I love sports. In fact, I am watching a Giants game as I type. While I have never played on a sports team, (no opportunities through 8th grade and no skill after), I grew up cheering for Chicago sports teams, was a sports broadcaster in college, and have hosted San Jose Giants baseball players in my home for 17 years.
My favorite sports experiences have been watching my children play sports. Brandon played baseball and soccer; Casey focused on soccer. My kids learned to win and to lose, to take direction from another trusted adult, to be part of a team, and to work together towards a common goal. What wonderful life lessons for everybody. It’s hard to imagine that girls were not always given the chance to learn these lessons in this way.
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, a federal law that said a person’s sex could not prevent them from participating in any educational program receiving federal funds. No specific mention of sports was made. But Title IX has helped to grow the number of female high school athletes from fewer than 300,000 in 1972 to over 3 million today.
This means that 3,000,000 teenage girls are building self-esteem and self-confidence, eating more healthy, having lower teen age pregnancy rates, doing better in school, having higher graduation rates, and being less stressed than non-athletes. Plus, if girls are encouraged and allowed to release some of their physical aggression through sports, maybe they will be less likely to be verbally aggressive.
Let’s encourage all kids to play sports, to get exercise and to stay healthy, and to have fun. And let’s thank Title IX for ensuring that our girls have equal opportunity.