Let Them Play!

By: Amanda Richter

Imagine that your daughter wants to play on a boys' team. You say ok. When you arrive all the boys laugh when they see her walk in, including the coach. They don't even know her, but it doesn't matter because girls' can't play. Girls should be allowed to play on boys' sports teams in order to gain a healthy respect for the other gender, to foster better skills, and to provide girls the same opportunities as boys.
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When female athletes play sports they get a well deserved self-esteem boost. In 1997 a study done for the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, found that participating in exercise and sports enhanced both the physical and mental health of adolescents, improving self-esteem, self confidence, competence, mental health, and body image (Driscoll). "It (sports) give girls many different things to feel good about. It gets them to use their body in an affirmative way. It's an avenue for you to feel good about yourself because you can do it well-the competence motivation. So many girls say, 'I love it because I feel good about it.' Now they're discovering they get the attention of the coaches and several other adults, including their parents." Whenever I score against a boy I always feel good about myself because a lot of critics say "girls can't play hockey", and when I do it boosts my self-esteem. When a girl gets the opportunity to go face-to-face against a boy and she is able to score on him she can gain self-esteem and self confidence. Other studies done independently have confirmed that girls who play sports score better on achievement tests; they're also more likely to graduate high school, to continue their education, and thus have greater earning potential (Driscoll). When I was 6 years old up until I was 12 I played on a mostly boys ice hockey team except in 1 or 2 seasons there was another girl on the team. I was always able to play against the boys and in most situations I was the better skater.
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If a girls' team or league doesn't recieve as many resources as the boys' team it will result in talented female athletes playing in boys' leagues. The organization CAAWS believes that when a girls' team that has the same resources as the boys' team it's the most desirable situation for girls themselves and for the development of the larger female sporting community (CAAWS). Most girl teams are lacking in a good coaching staff, and they don't have a lot of opportunities, boys' teams have a more balanced coaching staff and better opportunities. CAAWS also recognizes that not all girls' leagues recieve as many resources as boys' leagues. This leads to the second situation where a talented female athlete may wish to play on the males' team in order to access better competitive opportunities, practice times, and so on. In the short term, until such time as the sport system is equitable, a girls' choice to tryout and play on a boys' team should be supported (CAAWS).
In 1972 Title IX was a law that ordered any school receiving federal funds, kindergarten pipo college-must allow girls the same opportunities that the boys had including sports. Title IX hasn't only made playing sports normal for girls at every age and ability, it has changed the culture. The lessons learned through athletics give girls a stronger, more confident, more disciplined out look on their futures an advantage boys' have always had with girls gaining ground on boys' athletic turf, both have a new common experience and a new way to interact (Driscoll). In elementary school the boys and girls would play kickball together. Title IX did more than just level the playing field, it put boys and girls literally on the same playing field. Researchers are still exploring what that will mean for both sexes (Driscoll). During the kickball matches boys and girls would be mixed together evenly so no team had an advantage over the other team.
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Critics would argue that it's not mandatory that boys and girls have access to every team or sport the other gender does. Taking away a girls passion and drive because of her gender isn't fair. Girls and boys should be supported and allowed to pursue their interests.
By allowing girls on boys' sports teams, girls are able to recieve better skills and opportunities, while also becoming more respectful towards the opposite gender. Allowing girls on a boys' team makes both genders play harder since the boys want to be better than the girls and the girls want to be better than the boys. So, for all you girls out there, don't give up just because a boy says you're not good. Prove him wrong and show him girls are just as capable as boys. Girls should be able to pursue any sport they desire, and telling them they can't play on a boys' team is taking away their passion and drive. Let them play!
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