Carla’s recent post about the Tornado not playing organized sports really struck a chord with me.
Like Carla, I grew up in a place and era where Title IX hadn’t really taken hold.
I also have a daughter of similar age, and while I completely respect and understand where Carla is with organized sports right now, we have taken very divergent paths in this regard.
My daughter has been in organized sports for as long as I can remember, and I don’t see that ending any time soon.
Beyond the fact that my daughter loves her chosen sports and teams, I have my own reasons for wanting her to be in organized sports.
While I was always the neighborhood “tomboy,” growing up (is that a term still?), there weren’t any formalized sports opportunities for me to join. Rather than discovering the athlete I had inside, I was a figure skater and eventually, a cheerleader.
Yes, it makes me cringe, too.
Where and when I grew up, the emphasis for girls was to be pretty, and not much else. So that’s what I worked on: my appearance.
My friends and I would spend countless hours primping our hair, shopping at the mall, and getting deep, dark (unhealthy!) tans.
By the time I got to college, I had very little self esteem because I had very little to define myself by other than appearance. Honestly, I don’t think I found myself until my late ’20s, when I started getting physically active.
I’m thankful that things are entirely different for my daughter.
At 10, she’s a soccer player, basketball player, and runner who also dabbles in triathlons. When I look at her running a race or on the playing field, I see a strong, confident girl.
I also see a young girl who would rather throw her hair in a ponytail and grubby old shorts and walk out the door than spend time in front of the mirror.
Countless studies have shown the important role that sports can play in a girl’s life–they build self esteem, and put the focus on what girls can do, rather than how they look.
Based on the research I’ve read, I believe that sports can play a role in keeping my ‘tween girl from developing anxiety and depression, and and will help her handle the emotional overload that will come her way as she heads toward middle and high school.
It’s too early to know if sports will stick for my daughter, but I hope so.
I think she will grow up so much the better for it. I had a fabulous childhood, but if there’s one thing I could change, it would be having the exposure to sports at a young age.
While I’m not a fan of the big pushes some parents make with their kids and sports these days (that’s an entirely different post, no?), I do believe my daughter will be better equipped to handle adolescence, and eventually the world, for her involvement in organized sports.
Amanda Loudin is a freelance writer, running coach, and the voice behind the MissZippy blog, a site for runners seeking experienced advice, the latest running news, and a fun exchange of all things running related.
Her philosophy is running fitness is a journey of learning and she loves sharing her passion with readers, fellow athletes, and running clients alike.