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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