We spend a good portion of our weekends (and weeknights) at the ball park. I don’t mean Tropicana Field or Raymond James, I mean the local Little League fields.
When we moved to Tampa I pictured spending our whole weekends enjoying the beaches and theme parks. That’s not the reality though. My daughter plays softball, which is a two season sport here in Florida. I may jokingly complain with the other parents about missed beach days and a bad case of “bleacher butt” but I really don’t mind. And I never complain where my daughter can hear me. I want to do everything I can to encourage my daughter in sports. She may not be the best player on her team. She may not be destined to play pro or even get a college scholarship. That’s ok. I still want to encourage her to play sports for the many lifelong benefits.
One lifelong benefit of sports for girls is improved health. Women who play sports growing up are statistically less likely to be obese, to get breast cancer, or to develop osteoporosis. Women who grew up playing sports are less likely to smoke. Women who grew up playing sports are less likely to remain in a relationship with a partner who is abusive.
A study of high ranking female executives demonstrated that, not only had most of them participated in sports growing up, they credited their experience in sports as a factor in their success. The women studied reported that sports taught them how to work as part of a team, to be competitive, and to be disciplined. They even credited participation in team sports as making them fluent in the sports related jargon often used in the boardroom.
We don’t have to wait for girls to grow up to receive the benefits of playing team sports either. Girls who play sports are less likely to be obese or overweight. High school girls who participate in sports have been shown to get better grades in math and science, to have fewer teen pregnancies, and are less likely to drop out of school than girls who don’t.
With all of these benefits I definitely want to encourage my daughter to participate in sports. It doesn’t have to be softball, she took gymnastics for a few years and had a short stint in soccer. Who knows, next year it could be volleyball, golf, tennis or something I haven’t even thought of. As far as she’s concerned she’s just having fun, getting sweaty and developing friendships.