Benefits - Why Sports Participation for Girls and Women
Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Foundation works to increase the participation of girls and women in sports and fitness through education, grant-giving, recognition and advocacy programs. That's the Foundation does, but the "why" is most important. Although there is a federal law that mandates equal participation opportunities for male and female students in secondary and post secondary institutions of higher education, the real reason we want equal opportunity for our daughters to play sports is so they too can derive the psychological, physiological and sociological benefits of sports participation. Sport has been one of the most important socio-cultural learning experiences for boys and men for many years. Those same benefits should be afforded our daughters. It is important for all of us to know that:
- High school girls who play sports are less likely to be involved in an unwanted pregnancy; more likely to get better grades in school and more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports
- As little as four hours of exercise a week may reduce a teenage girl's risk of breast cancer by up to 60%; breast cancer is a disease that afflicts one out of every eight American women. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 1994)
- 40% of women over the age of 50 suffers from osteoporosis (brittle bones). (Osteoporosis, 1996) None of us should want our daughters to repeat the experiences of generations of women -- our mothers and grandmothers -- who were not permitted to play sports or encouraged to participate in weight-bearing exercises that are necessary to establishing bone mass.
- Girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self esteem and lower levels of depression
- Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports.
- Sport is where boys have traditionally learned about teamwork, goal-setting, the pursuit of excellence in performance and other achievement-oriented behaviors -- critical skills necessary for success in the workplace. In an economic environment where the quality of our children's lives will be dependent on two-income families, our daughters cannot be less prepared for the highly competitive workplace than our sons. It is no accident that 80% of the female executives at Fortune 500 companies identified themselves as former "tomboys" - having played sports.
Reprinted with the permission of the Women's Sports Foundation. © 2008 All Rights Reserved.
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