FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 29, 2010
Winning continues off the field for female athletes, new studies show
Unlike schools, newspapers don't have to treat men's and women's scholastic sports equally. How balanced does this paper seem, based on more than a few days of coverage?
Find a quote from an athlete or coach who shares a "life lesson" by talking about more than athletics.
Look for a sports article that's not about a game or upcoming event. Tell what's interesting about it or what you admire about whoever is featured.
Thanks to far-sighted moves in Washington before your birth, you probably assume equal access by girls and boys to varsity teams is a right and not a privilege. That's because two congresswomen successfully pushed a 1972 education law amendment -- called Title IX (Nine) -- that says schools getting federal money can't favor men's athletics over women's sports. Now two universities report profound, long-term advantages for women who are athletes in high school and college.
In one new study, a University of Pennsylvania economist shows a cause and effect relationship between high school sports participation and achievement in college and careers. "Greater opportunities to play sports lead to greater female participation in previously male-dominated occupations, particularly in high-skill occupations," the researcher concluded.
At the University of Illinois, a professor found that adult women who had "greater opportunity to participate in athletics while young . . . [have] lower rates of obesity and reported being more physically active than women who were not afforded these opportunities."
Current and past female athletes are well-aware of what the studies confirm: Playing team sports teaches teamwork, confidence, perseverance, motivation, strategic thinking and other abilities with lifelong benefits -- especially in a career. "The skills learned in athletics can be used in a professional and intellectual setting for sure," says senior Amber Fandel, a rugby player at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
There's still room for improvement, though. About one in three high school girls now play sports, compared with about half of boys.
Look at the numbers: In the 1971-72 school year, 294,000 high school girls and 3.6 million boys played sports. In 2008, the figures were more than 3 million girls and more than 4 million boys.
Professor says: Professor says: "It's not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life. While I only show this for girls, it's reasonable to believe it's true for boys as well." -- Betsey Stevenson, author of University of Pennsylvania study
Blogger says: "Girls now have equal access to a kind of learning I did not have growing up. They are learning the wisdom of sports, the thrill of competition, the desire to win. . . . I am grateful that my daughter will be entering middle school and thinks trying out for a team is a natural extension of her learning." -- Karen Paul-Stern at CurrentMom.com
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