Girls on Boy's Sports Teams?

Article By Sammi Schneider

Jenna, 15, has played in the All-Star soccer team for the past five years. It is her favorite activity, and in her words "Soccer isn't just a sport, it's my life." All winter, for hours on end, she practices soccer drills in preparation for the season. Registration night comes around, and Jenna is beaming with happiness to finally start the season again. She and her parents are informed that due to the town budget cuts, the All-Star girls soccer team is being dropped. Jenna just stands there, quiet and in shock. The boys soccer league was also putting registration in that same place. She turns to her parents, begging them to put her on the boys team. Jenna doesn't care what team she's on; she just wants to play…Sadly, this is the case for many girls who are just like Jenna. Allowing girls to play on boy's sports teams will increase girl's self esteem and provide more diverse opportunities to compete.

Sports is now a part of the everyday lives of girls. It gives them something to feel good about because of the "sense of mastery" it provides (Driscoll). On top of that, gives girls a positive way to use their bodies. Studies show that athletic girls tend to stay away from sexual behavior and the dating scene. Sports also provides a sense of self determination and motivation, since the girls know they can play well. All my life, I have been into musical theatre and nothing else. This year, I decided to join the OMS lacrosse team. Lacrosse is something I have always wanted to try, but I never got around to it. Of course, all my friends were making fun of me, saying I was bad, that I didn't know how to play, etc., but that didn't stop me from being the best I could be. A few days before the first meet, a couple of my friends and I went to the high school to practice some skills. It turns out that I was better than the majority of the boys who were making fun of me. This was because lacrosse gives me the determination and motivation I need in order to reach my goals.

Sports leaves a lifelong impact on girls in various ways. It is a great way to build lasting friendships between both boys and girls. Elizabeth Suda, 18, states, "There wasn't much difference between us, we were all runners. Of course, the boys run faster than the girls, but a lot of us were the same as the boys. I guess the boys just think of us as normal people. They cheer us on just like they cheer each other on." (Driscoll) In addition, sports is good practice for decision making. Decision making is a must in any sport. For example, in lacrosse, you make many decisions such as who to pass the ball to, when to shoot etc. If girls are having a rough life at home or a rough social life, sports could be an immediate stress reliever. A lot of my friends have a difficult life out of school, whether it's divorced/fighting parents, or they just don't get any attention from anyone at all. When it becomes too much for them and they just can't deal with it anymore, they go outside and play soccer, lacrosse, hockey or whatever sport they play. It automatically relieves their stress and gives them something to feel good about.

Sports also affects the mental and physical health of adolescents, improving their confidence and competence. Researchers say that girls who play sports score higher on performance tests because of their confidence and motivation skills (Driscoll). Since I first began lacrosse in the beginning of March, I feel that I have been studying harder and more often, which leads to me getting higher grades. This is because lacrosse gives me the motivation, confidence and determination that I need to get high academic grades. Researchers also say that because of what sports provides, girls will be more likely to graduate from high school to pursue their education and have a better chance at being successful. Adolescents who are physically, mentally and emotionally stronger are most likely to be found competing in the classroom. This is because they are so used to competing on the field, that the behavior of fighting to be the best continues in the classroom. Competing in the classroom makes athletic girls determined to be the best that they can be.

Giving girls the chance to play on boys teams will open more diverse opportunities to compete. When a girl plays on a boy's team, they will have a more competitive experience. For example, if a girl plays on a boy's team, she would have a completely different experience on a boy's team rather than a girl's team. Boy's lacrosse is much more complex. They have to wear helmets, pads, shin guards, cups and other protective material. In boys lacrosse, they can hit each other with sticks, start fights and be as violent as possible. However, girls don't have any material, besides goggles, and girls can't even touch each other during a game. In addition, girls participation in sports will increase because it opens slots on female teams, that girls who don't currently play sports, can fill. This is very important because it gives several girls a chance to be active and get healthy.

Can there be cons of girls playing on boy's sports teams? The answer is yes. Sure, it can lower their self esteem if they lose to a girl, it hurts teams by drawing away some of the best players, and sometimes, it makes boys downright uncomfortable if they are playing against a girl in wrestling, football, or any other contact sports. However, the benefits completely outweigh the drawbacks. Giving girls a chance to play on boy's sports teams will increase their self esteem and open more chances for competition. To all you girls out there who want to play on boy's teams, go for it. Don't let anyone dull your sparkle. Prove everyone around you wrong, that girls can be just as capable as boys. So girls, get out there and show them what you've got!