What Dads Want For Their Athletic Daughters
Do fathers know what their daughters want and need for their team sports? Team Insight went to the source and asked five dads around the country how they feel about the products they buy for their young athletes — and if they even have a say in that purchase. The bottom line: Team dealers need to take these men seriously, or else their daughters will make them feel bad.
TALKING GIRLS’ SPORTS GEAR
Billy B., 42 • Presley, 16; Riley, 15; Kinley, 11 / Overland Park, KS
Presley is a swimmer (she also played basketball and soccer until 13); Riley plays softball and high school basketball (also played soccer until last year); Kinley swims and plays basketball, softball (gave up soccer last year).
Charlie G., 56 • Samantha, 22; Kayla, 20; Nicole, 17 / Wellington, FL
Kayla played soccer and flag football throughout high school, as well as travel soccer, and now plays collegiate soccer at Guilford College; Nicole plays high school softball and basketball, as well as travel softball.
Matt B., 48 • Carolyn, 13 / Chicago, IL
She has played travel ice hockey for the past six years.
Mike B., 55 • Haley, 19 / Weston, CT
Haley plays tennis, golf, lacrosse and field hockey and enjoys skiing, biking, running and yoga.
Tim P., 54 • Alyssa, 18 / Seymour, IN
Alyssa has played soccer, basketball and softball since she was five-years old. Also participated in cross-country and track in middle school.
Let’s put it right out there: Who makes the sports equipment purchases in your family? And who pays for it?
Mike B.: I buy most of the equipment for Haley. I have been a gear head since I was a kid and I always wanted Haley to be excited about sports. I have an old adage — You need to look good, to play good. What it means is equipment takes you to another level of interest in sports. Haley would pay for some of the things she needs, but I was the backstop.
Charlie G.: I have paid for most of the girls’ sports equipment and my wife will purchase some items. I am more into sports than she is and have more knowledge than her regarding the equipment. I currently make most of the purchases.
Billy B.: I make the sports equipment purchases because I own a sporting goods company (MB2 Sports) and have easy access to equipment and apparel. My wife and I pay for most of their sports equipment and apparel.
Tim P.: It’s a combination between my wife, our daughter, Seymour High School and me. As our daughter has become older, she will occasionally buy shoes and attire that she might use for various sports. When it is a major purchase, she usually comes to us. Since she has been involved in basketball at the high school level, the coach has always done team shoes.
Matt B.: I make the sports equipment purchases and pay for all of the equipment because I know the sport better than my wife.
So how hard or easy has it been over the years for you to buy equipment and apparel for your daughter?
Mike B.: It is easier than ever to buy gear. The Internet changed everything. When I was a kid, if I wanted a new Rawlings baseball mitt I caddied for two straight weekends and went down to Schafer Sporting goods on my bike in Westport to buy it. No competition and I paid top dollar. All that has changed. Now I can search for days for the best equipment, best price, read the reviews, see pictures and have it delivered in a day or two.
Matt B.: It was a little difficult at first because of my lack of knowledge on equipment, but now it is very easy.
Tim P.: We have never had problems buying sports equipment and apparel for our daughter.
Charlie G.: We have found that it is difficult to get some footwear. My daughter, Kayla, usually gets men’s cleats due to there being more options available. Nicole has gotten most of the items she needs, but sometimes we need to wait for deals or utilize coupons because some of the equipment is expensive. Many times, due to the cost of equipment we would have to wait until the next year to purchase something or buy a year-old model.
Billy B.: It has been quite easy to buy for my daughters because of the line of work I am in. However, sizing can be an issue at times and girls can be pickier than boys.
On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the best), what grade would you give manufacturers for the products you have purchased for her sports?
Tim P.: Oh, definitely a 10 — whether it is soccer cleats, basketball shoes, softball cleats, spandex shorts or sports bras. They have all been durable, reliable, comfortable and overall above-average.
Charlie G.: I would give most companies a 9 for their products. Most of the time they last a good amount of time and the quality is good. The only downside is that sometimes there is a lack of variety and sizes and they can be expensive.
Billy B.: We have purchased many different brands of equipment, but mostly have used Adidas for everything we can due to my company. I would give Adidas a 9. For swimming we generally use Arena because Presley and Kinley both swim for the Kansas City Blazers, who are sponsored by Arena. I would give them a 9 also. We have purchased McDavid protective gear and I would give them a 9. I purchase Easton bats and Louisville Slugger bats for Riley and Kinley and I would give them a 9. We buy Wilson gloves and I would give them an 8.
Matt B.: A 9, because the equipment for hockey is excellent but a little pricey.
Mike B.: I’ll go by brand if you don’t mind. Babolot, 8, great product and customer service; Adidas, 8, great combination of styling and customer service; Nike, 7, lower rating only because some of their stuff is great and some not so good; New Balance, 8, improved styling a lot in the last five to eight years; STX, 8, we like this brand mostly because it isn’t used as widely.
That said, what do you like and dislike about her equipment and apparel?
Matt B.: The only thing I dislike is it does not last very long. With her growing and the amount of time she is on the ice it seems that we need to replace stuff every year.
Mike B.: I like a lot of the older equipment. I also look for smaller manufacturers who take pride in their work and where I can speak to the people making the products. Obviously that isn’t possible for many products. So I stick with brands that I know about, but their quality can change quickly.
Tim P.: I do not have any dislikes. I like the fact that it’s easy for us to find her what she needs either here in town at our local Hibbett Sports or on the Internet from Amazon or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Charlie G.: The one downside is that my girls grow out of them so quickly. Some of the items last a good time; however, we do not like how expensive they can be. Secondly, kids come in a variety of sizes and it has been hard at times to get apparel or sports equipment to fit them.
Billy B.: We have had great luck. We love the quality of Adidas clothing and shoes and have enjoyed those for years. My kids really like having the latest running shoes to wear to school and sport-specific footwear. I dislike the amount of money we spend each year on equipment that the girls need. For example, the tech swimsuits that my oldest daughter wears are around $400 and they are only good for one or two meets. And I purchase a lot of cutting-edge bats that have amazing performance, but have durability issues.
Has this apparel and equipment improved or not improved since she began playing sports?
Mike B.: There are more products targeted to girls – lacrosse sticks, shoes, lighter shafts for golf, tennis graphite racquets that have allowed women to hit the ball as hard as men, lululemon for yoga – every sport now has a specialized manufacturer and you can find this stuff on the Internet.
Charlie G.: The quality has improved over the recent years. There is also new, innovative equipment and apparel that has helped my daughters develop.
Billy B.: The quality of the footwear, in particular, has gotten better. Equipment has probably stayed relatively the same.
Tim P.: The quality is pretty much the same as it was back when she started playing sports, in 2007ish. What has improved for obvious reasons is the availability through various websites.
Matt B.: Her equipment has definitely improved over the years. Just with technology.
Have you had to purchase equipment, footwear or apparel for her that is unisex or made for boys?
Matt B.: All the time. In hockey everything is either unisex or made for boys.
Charlie G.: Kayla always ends up in men’s cleats. There are more options, cooler designs and always more sizes. Nicole loves watching professional basketball, but like Kayla she prefers to wear boys’/men’s basketball shoes because of the look and there are always more sizes available.
Billy B.: Oh yes, sometimes we have to purchase men’s footwear — for basketball mostly, or sometimes training.
The quality of the footwear, in particular, has gotten better. Equipment has probably stayed relatively the same.
How about the other side of that question?
Tim P.: I do not recall the last time she purchased or we purchased for her equipment, footwear or apparel that is made for boys or men or unisex. I’ll even take the reader back to when she started playing basketball — I vividly remember purchasing for her at a Nike Outlet in Edinburgh, IN, a cute little pair of canvas Air Jordans for girls (pink even)!
Mike B.: I have never purchased men’s stuff for my daughter. Title IX probably had a lot to do with that. I have a friend from the NYAC who sells rugby gear and he tells me that the biggest growing sport in the USA is women’s rugby and he is selling a ton of equipment. Who knew?
“I can search for days for the best equipment, best price, read the reviews, see pictures and have it delivered in a day or two.”
Where do you buy your daughter’s sports stuff these days? How much has that changed over the years?
Charlie G.: We have consistently bought from Dick’s Sporting Goods. They normally have a lot of options, but their prices have increased. We also will go to smaller sports stores like Scotty’s or Superstar Sports that are in our area. We also utilize the Internet — Just Bats and a few other places to find deals..
Tim P.: We would often go to our local Hibbett Sports or to the outlet mall in Edinburgh. Now, however, a lot of the purchases are from online sources. We enjoy going to Dick’s Sporting Goods, too.
Mike B.: We buy mostly from the Internet or sometimes directly from a club or through the school.
Billy B.: I buy apparel and footwear from Adidas directly due to my sporting goods company. I’ve been in business for my daughters’ entire athletic careers, so that has not changed. I buy swim items either from Adidas or from a local dealer named Swim Quik. For softball I buy bats directly from Easton or Louisville.
Make sure they have plenty of sizing options and that the fit is meant for a girl’s body. Also make sure the style is up to date.
Are there any embarrassing or uncomfortable stories about the sports gear you have purchased for your daughter?
Billy B.: I did have one embarrassing moment at a swim meet when my daughter’s tech suit ripped during her warm-ups. Thankfully, Swim Quik was on location and was able to fit her with another suit before her events. I guess she was more embarrassed than I was ... but it wasn’t good.
Charlie G.: I had to purchase softball pants for Nicole and it’s very hard to purchase pants because of her size and girls are particular on how apparel needs to fit. So, I bought the pants based on past purchases. She puts them on and had a fit. She said they were too big and said she looked like a softball player wearing clown pants. Sometimes I wonder that they are more worried about — how they look or what the purpose of the pants is. LOL.
Tim P.: Not embarrassing or uncomfortable, but funny. The first pair of soccer cleats we purchased for her last summer online from Dick’s did not fit her well, so she wanted some different ones. I traveled to my brother’s in early August in Richmond, IN, and stopped at the Dick’s there. They did not have the ones we had already purchased, which was fine because our daughter told me someone on the team already had a pair just like those. She wanted me to Facetime her and she finally saw a pair she liked. They had her size and she ended up having a successful senior soccer season with a pair of Nike soccer cleats from Dick’s in Richmond, IN, that no one else on her team had.
If you have a message for the makers of your daughter’s sports equipment and uniforms, what would it be?
Matt B.: The only message I would have is to start realizing that there are a lot of girls that play ice hockey and they should start developing equipment catered to girls and women.
Charlie G.: Thank you for making quality gear, but I would love to see more variety of coloring and size. And please try to make the prices more realistic. I would love to see all children be able to participate in sports regardless of their financial status. There have been times when my kids have been to tryouts and feel they can’t compete with other kids because their parents can afford the new and best equipment. Even though she may be the better athlete, the equipment sometimes will play a role on how an individual will perform.
Mike B.: Make sure they have plenty of sizing options and that the fit is meant for a girl’s body. Also make sure the style is up to date and the colors make it work. Everyone wants to look good and it can give you confidence if you feel like you look good.
Tim P.: My simple message is to keep up the good work. My daughter has experienced a lot of success as a three-sport, female high school athlete and a lot of that has to do with the quality of the products she wears and uses and the ease of availability.
Billy B.: Please continue to make innovative women’s designs for apparel, footwear and equipment because there is a difference between men’s and women’s goods and it’s equally important to suit their needs for all of the above.
Girls Rate Their Dads
We figured it would be a good idea to get the daughters’ opinions of their fathers as well, so we asked them this bonus question: How much do you think your father knows about girls’ sports products?
Matt B.: This is from my daughter: “He knows a lot because he played sports himself and had always had the right equipment. He always helps me get the right protective gear so I can be safe on the ice. He makes sure my gear feels good and it helps me not to worry about getting hurt on the ice. On a scale from one to 10 he knows what he is talking about — a real 10!”
Charlie G.: My daughters told me: “Our dad has been to almost every game he can and after every game we talk about the things we did well and what we should work on improving. He has coached us since we were little in soccer, softball, basketball, dance and flag football. When it comes to the products, he is good at the basics. For example, for softball he knows jerseys, pants, socks, gloves, bats, face masks and cleats, but as girls we like to wear sliders and certain belts, undershirts, etc. For soccer he knew that we needed cleats, a jersey, shorts, socks and shinguards, but didn’t know about sliders and pre-wrap. He knows most things, but as we get older there are extra things we need.”
Billy B.: My kids say that I am very knowledgeable when it comes to equipment and footwear; however, occasionally our views on apparel differ greatly.
Tim P.: Alyssa’s replied that, “I don’t know how much you know about girls’ sports products. I’m assuming you know that sizing is different than guys’ sports products.” And, yes, I do know that.