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National Girls and Women in Sports Day

02 February 2017

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Youth sports have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, as well as better development of interpersonal skills like leadership, teamwork and endurance. A growing body of research suggests equal opportunity for female participation in athletics is crucial to equip all young people with the tools they need to achieve well-being and success in adulthood.

Gender Equality in Sports

In 1972, federal lawmakers passed Title IX, which states girls should have the same opportunities as boys to participate in sports. Since Title IX was passed, there has been a significant rise in female participation in athletic activities.

However, Oklahoma still ranks 38th nationwide for gender equality in sports. About one-third of high schools in the state have what researchers call a “large gender equity gap,” which can discourage girls from participating in organized sports. If a girl doesn’t play sports by age 10, there is less than a 10 percent chance she’ll be involved in sports at age 25, according to the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport.

With more research pointing to the physical, mental and emotional benefits of playing sports, it becomes clear that girls are at a significant disadvantage when denied the opportunity to participate in athletics.

Benefits of Athletic Activities for Women

“A physically active lifestyle lowers the risk for a host of chronic illnesses that adversely affect women’s lives,” according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. Girls who participate in sports and athletic activities throughout childhood and adulthood are at a lower risk for the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

In addition to long-term physical benefits, playing sports can have a positive effect on the mental and emotional well-being of young women. Organized sports teach young people skills like leadership and teamwork, arming future generations of women with the tools they need to be successful athletes, businesswomen, mothers and leaders.

In a recent survey of working women, 58 percent of women surveyed said they regularly participate in physical activities or sports. Of these women, many said that participating in athletic activities increased their overall physical fitness, reduced stress and improved their job performance.

Celebrating Girls and Women in Sports

February 1 marked the 31st annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which celebrates the achievements of female athletes and promotes the equal opportunity of physical activities for women nationwide. Through awareness and donations, the Women’s Sports Foundation has been able to open doors for girls across the country who are seeking equal opportunity to play the sports they love.