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Change Your Life: Girls Play Sports!

We’ve enrolled Ainsley in a variety of sports to see which ones she’d excel at and which ones might light something in her.

When her pediatrician told us her BMI was high and we needed to make some changes, we realized our book-worm of a daughter, who lived in a neighborhood, at the time, where it was not super-safe to let her spend hours in the yard by herself and had no friends in the hood, was simply not getting enough exercise. Enter city Rec. leagues: soccer, softball, basketball, Tae Kwon Do.

She’s playing basketball this season and in January, she and Zack will start taking ice skating lessons. Between the first season of basketball and this one, I can see a real difference in her ability to comprehend the game and use her body to make plays. We also intend to enroll both the kids in spring soccer (Zack is finally old enough to play).

Her real passion and talent is swimming. For which, I will take a tremendous amount of credit. I’ve spent entire summers taking my kids to the lake and pool and teaching them the skills of swimming. Not only is swimming super-fun, and a life-skill (so as not to accidentally drown), it can also be highly competitive.

It’s time now, in her development, for Swim Team. She’s good enough and excited enough about the sport to make it worthwhile.

One of our major money goals is to be able to enroll both our kids in some sort of sport that really lights a fire under them. For the exercise, the sense of achievement and belonging to a team and to instill a competitive spirit in them.

I do think a competitive spirit is helpful in America (I kind of hate when they don’t keep score and give everyone a trophy in kid’s sports). The “right to win” doesn’t come naturally to some kids and it’s a necessary skill in our capitalistic society. The ability to run faster and try harder, instead of give up and surrender, when you think you’re being beat is another skill I hope they learn from sports.

My hope is, and the report on Sexualization of Girls by the APA (American Psychological Association) Task Force makes a categorical case for it, that being invested in a sport, being an athlete will help her maintain a sense of self that is not “sexual object” or “here for male entertainment” as she enters her adolescence. The idea being that her sense of her body will be about something more, something deeper and action-oriented, like “my body is skilled, my brain is wired” to swim, or shoot baskets, to run fast, etc., rather than “my body is pleasing to look at and touch for others.”

In other words, a sense of self that is not entirely about sex and how boys perceive her.

The National Women’s Law Center is running a campaign to make sure girls’ sports are funded equally to boys’ sports, this post participates in that campaign. There’s a ton of resources and tools at Rally for Girls’ Sports: She’ll Win More Than A Game.

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6 replies
  1. Melissa Wardy says:

    Go Ainsley!! I have played sports since I was three years old, and love the appreciation and power it has brought to my body. Goo luck with swim team! Take your mark!

  2. Char says:

    I am so glad you have given Ainsley the opportunity to try out different sports and she has found one she likes, too! My youngest daughter is a swimmer, too. She grew up in the gym while I taught gymnastics and while she is not an overweight child, she certainly is not built like most of her gymnast friends. She is tall and strong and can swim like a fish! In the water she is a leader and is truly beginning to benefit from all the lessons she has learned from competitive swimming for the past three years.

    Here is to all girls today – go play sports, the places they will take you is just amazing.

  3. Rebecca says:

    More girls are competing in sports than at any time in our nation’s history. And more are joining the fun! Here’s to all that playing sports brings to our individual development, our sense of team spirit, bonding and achieving, and most importantly, the benefits that cheering on girl sports has on our communities around the country.

    Go girls! You rock!

  4. Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth says:

    Hey Tracee, thanks for the link to the NWLC round-up, wasn’t the easiest thing to find, so will retweet it and link all to my next post as a part two for Rally For Girls Sports Day.

    btw, I was a swimmer too (go figure, Hawaii and all that) but ironically defected to saltwater sports once the green slime (aka blonde hair/chlorine swimteam early hour practices) took hold. Also recall kids started teasing with “Muscle Jussel” in my preteen years. (rolls eyes)

    Our school in Hawaii didn’t have a pool so the crack o’ dawn practices elsewhere for literally a handful of girls just didn’t have enough oompf appeal to be sustainable…I ended up on the leadership track (yah, Sr. Class Prez, go figure) which has also served me well.

    So from one water rat to another…Go Ainsley go! (And DO come wakeboard with teen gal pals here in the Bay Area anytime! We’re minutes away from SFO, smack dab on the water)

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