During a lively kindergarten soccer game, she exclaimed, “I am so hot, tired and sweaty!” After a quick hug, I told her it was OK! She smiled, paused, and then I saw the light bulb go on.
She has been nonstop ever since, with soccer, swimming, running and skiing.
Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, opportunities and participation for girls in sports have increased to accommodate girls with varied talents, body types, physical limitations and interests. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, just 1 in 27 girls participated in high school sports in 1972. Nearly 40 years later, that number has grown to 1 in 3. Today girls choose from hockey, dance, tennis, pole vault, rock climbing, rowing, swimming, badminton, lacrosse, triathlon and sailing, just to name a few. The benefits to girls who participate are remarkable.
Physical activity is beneficial at any age. Sports increase muscle and bone strength, fortify the immune system and increase the development of brain cells. Girls and women who are active are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses like cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Playing sports teaches girls to trust, respect and rely on their bodies to perform. Confidence and a positive body image develop as girls improve their skills. And as parents, we hope that self-assurance leads to avoiding risky behaviors like alcohol and drug use, smoking and sexual activity.
Exposure to Valuable Life Lessons
Sports require girls to be disciplined, act as leaders, set goals, take risks, cooperate with team members, train hard, be aggressive and overcome adversity. These lessons transfer to the classroom and beyond.
Lifelong Active, Healthy Lifestyle
Sports are a blast, and physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental outlook. Young girls who develop a love of sports will be active as teenagers and adults. They’ll also develop healthy friendships based on the positive values and experiences from athletics.
So, expose your gal to lots of different sports at an early age. She may need to experiment to find the right fit, so don’t let her get discouraged if she’s not a soccer player or gymnast—move on and try Tae Kwon Do or volleyball. Join her in the pursuit of athletic greatness and you, too, will reap the benefits.