Sports are a universally known way to get active, have fun, meet new people, and most importantly, allows people to connect to an activity that is meaningful to them. Sports should be something people enjoy doing.
But then again, what drives someone to play a sport in the first place? What drives girls to play sports in general? This is an interesting discussion to be had because sports haven’t always been equal. Girls were rarely given the chance to play sports competitively until the end of the 19th century. Up until then, sports were strictly for recreational purposes. Men thought that women and girls could not handle the competitive side of activities like tennis and archery.
Everyone now knows this to be false. Women can more than handle a little competitiveness.
So, now that we have gotten the history out of the way, let’s look at sports in the modern era; what drives female athletes to be female athletes?
This can be broken down into two main categories: health benefits, both physically and mentally, and socialization.
On the physical side, sports are a great source of fitness. For example, in a casual game of soccer, one can burn almost 500 calories. If the game is more competitive, it would burn around 700 calories. This keeps people in shape, active, and of course, healthy.
Mentally, sports help to boost both self-esteem and body image. This is important, because many girls suffer from body image dysphoria. By the time girls reach the 13 years old, 53 percent of girls are reported to not be happy with how they look. By 17 years old, that number increases to 78 percent. And high self-esteem is crucial for more than just body positivity; it can also affect other areas of life like better grades in school, or better relationships with colleagues and friends.
Socialization is another main reason why people play sports, specifically team sports. Team chemistry is crucial to playing well. Take teams like the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team, or UConn Women’s basketball team. These teams consist of girls who are each other’s best friends, and it pays off in the moments where the spotlight is on them. It is part of the reason as to why they are such successful programs.
It also helps girls when they eventually start working. Girls who play sports are 75 percent more likely to get hired by their employer, according to a survey reported by Fortune.
“Something happens when girls play sports — they embody the experience of not just of winning, but the critical experience of losing,” Claire Shipman, television journalist and co-author of The Confidence Code, told Fortune. “It’s that process of carrying on and clearing hurdles that really builds confidence. It’s an incredibly useful proving ground for business and leadership.”
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