Education is the most effective way of remedying discrimination. Thus, National Girls and Women in Sports Day is not just a day to celebrate the achievements of women in sports to the exclusion of the achievement of male athletes. It is a day where males and females focus on (1) the importance of remedying past discrimination against women in sports, (2) the benefits of sports participation for girls, and (3) addressing the myths that have kept both boys and girls from supporting girls’ sports participation; myths like “throws like a girl”, girls who play sports are lesbians, girls who do gymnastics get eating disorders, etc.
Girls Only – Special Programming for Girls and Women in Sport: The Foundation Position
Benefits – Why Sports Participation for Girls and Women
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 unintended pregnancy; more likely to get better grades in school and more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports.
- 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.
Contact Sports – Girls and Contact Sports: The Foundation Position
Girls who desire to compete on boys’ teams should be permitted to do so if they have the size, strength and skill to match up to the boys they are playing with and against and can therefore to do so safely. Physiological differences within the sexes are greater than the differences between the sexes. Thus, especially in sport leagues below the professional sports level, there will be some individual girls who are able to compete with and against boys, despite the physiological advantages of most boys. Especially in cases where the opportunity to compete on girls’ teams is not present, girls with comparable size, strength and skill as the boys they play with and against should be allowed the opportunity to play.
Physical Activity and Athletic Competition for Individuals with Disabilities
Schools must provide individuals with disabilities, male and female, with equal opportunities to participate and equal treatment in physical education, school recess, club, varsity and intramural sports programs. Schools have the obligation and must be flexible as they develop programs that consider the interests of students with disabilities.
Single-Sex Physical Education Classes: The Foundation Position
Girls reap positive benefits from physical activity at a young age in terms of psychological and physical well-being and academic and career success later in life. For many young girls, physical education class is their first and only exposure to physical activity. School physical education is the most cost-effective mechanism for delivering quality movement programs to the greatest number of children.
Mandatory single-sex physical education is never appropriate. Schools should offer co-educational physical education.
Race and Sport: The Foundation Position
Sports participation is critical for a female of color just as it is for all females. Sport and physical activity are effective interventions to addressing the obesity crisis, and research shows that sports and physical activity participation has an incredibly positive impact on the lives of girls, especially girls of color, who are in greater need of both opportunities and encouragement. Athletic opportunities for female athletes of color have grown at double the rate of those for white female athletes since the passage of Title IX.
Title IX has increased sports participation and scholarship opportunities for all female athletes, including significant numbers of women of color. However, there is still work to be done for women of color to gain equal representation and opportunities in athletics. The following position paper discusses the relationship between Title IX and discrimination on the basis of race/ ethnicity and addresses those steps that must be taken to further advance opportunities for women of color in sport
Baseball and Softball: Should Girls and Women Have to Choose?
Contrary to common belief, softball is not the female equivalent of baseball. Baseball and softball are governed by separate national sport governing bodies in the United States and internationally. In other words, the United States Olympic Committee and the world authority on sports, the International Olympic Committee, recognize baseball and softball as different sports.
Appropriate Athletic Uniform Guidelines
Athletes should be afforded maximum flexibility in the choice of uniform fabrics and styles. Selection of appropriate sport competition and practice apparel is influenced by many factors including:
- Performance considerations
- Medical and safety concerns
- Differences in body type and the impact on body presentation on psychological readiness
- Cultural differences