Co-Ed Teams!

By: Sadie Stadler

Image this, you are a 13 year old girl who is a skilled soccer player. You are trying out for the only advanced soccer team in your area, but it is a boys’ team. By the time tryouts are about to begin, the coach comes over and says you can't tryout because you are a girl. Well, most likely you will feel very disappointed. However, in reality, this happens to many skilled female athletes all around the United States. This is stopping many young girls from achieving their dreams. Before the onset of puberty, girls should be allowed to play on boys’ sports teams as it improves confidence, skill, and sportsmanship.

When girls play on boys’ sport teams, they get a large confidence boost and they learn to appreciate their bodies. In fact, “ in the nationwide survey of 362 girls between the ages of 6-18, nearly half of them said that the activity that made them feel good about themselves was sports.“ (Driscoll) Being on a team, having a uniform, going to meets, and competing are just some of the things to make a girl feel good and want to play sports. According to Anne Driscoll, a writer for the Boston Globe says that for generations girls have known that their bodies should look attractive for boys and girls, but now they are understanding that their bodies don't have to just look nice, they can play sports and be strong. Athletes are showing girls of all ages that they can be athletic, and not just look attractive. How would you feel if all you could do was stand there and look nice? Well now, girls can be part of a team and feel proud about themselves.
Boost Girls’ Self Esteem with Sports

Dan Sullivan, a sixth grade teacher and coach at Nock Middle School, says that during one four-year period, his track team grew from 32 girls to nearly 60, and he saw the girls working just as hard, competing just as fiercely, and achieving just as much as the boys did. When girls play sports with boys, they learn to have better sportsmanship and learn to become better players all around. In my experience, at my dance studio there are many boys on the dance teams, like my brother. From being on the dance team for only a year, he has gained a great deal. He has learned to be a better teammate, which shows on the soccer field. If boys can be on dance teams, and learn to be better players with girls, then girls can become better players with boys. Furthermore, mixed teams can be extremely effective when coaches and leaders allow playing time for the girls and give positive reinforcement like they do for the boys. (Making An Informed Decision About Girls’ Participation on Boys’ Teams) When the coaches treat the girls like they are on the team, it benefits them in many ways increasing sportsmanship and playing skill.

Physically, girls grow quicker and have better coordination then boys, until the onset of puberty. The Women's Sport Foundation says that prior to puberty, both sexes don't differ much in physiologic parameters such as, height, weight, fat-free mass, girth, bone width, and skin fold thickness. In my experience, when I was younger, played on the “pee-wee” soccer and baseball teams were co-Ed, and so were gym classes. At that age, the physical parameters between the sexes are basically the same. Even now, during puberty, we still play in co-Ed physical education classes. If we can play together in gym, then why not on sport teams? In fact, “girls also hit puberty on average, two years before boys, so they will be slightly taller and stronger than the average boy. “ (American development Model) In my opinion, if a girl or boy can match up to skill, and the size, they should always be allowed to play together. Having more strength and being taller, gives girl an advantage to the boys who want to try to show that they are bigger and better. Since growth rates vary so much between the two genders, prior to puberty children should pay sports by being matched up by height, weight, and skill. (Women's Sports Foundation) Why should coaches make generalizations based on gender when girls can have just as much or better skill than boys? By basing it off of skill, it is much more fair and equal.

Others argue that girls will get injured by playing sports with boys. This idea generalizes that boys are stronger and girls are weaker, therefore they will get hurt. However, both girls and boys can get injured no matter the sports or the gender of the teammates. When professional female soccer players play in the World Cup, many get injured by just playing with other girls. Same for boys, when football players play in the NFL, many get hurt by playing with other boys. No matter the gender you play with, you still have a chance of getting hurt.

Boys teams should allow girls to play with them before puberty hits because confidence, skill, and sportsmanship increases. Athletic girls all around the world are not being allowed to play sports because they aren't allowed to play on male teams. This is showing girls that they can't do certain things because of their gender. The country is turning down great athletes. Do we really want to show young girls that they can't achieve their dreams? If we did, no one would ever achieve anything. No, it's not possible for the whole country to allow kids to play co-Ed sports, but we can at least try to get some coaches to allow it. Stop being sexist, let girls play sports if they want to, and let them achieve all they can.
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