I Throw Like a Girl

The following is a guest editorial by Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Sports.

editorial-logo3There has been a lot of shouting lately.  Shouting about equality for women seems to be the one that I have found continually making a resurgence on a consistent basis (maybe because I’m a woman, and Facebook seems to think that’s what it needs to feed me).  I see a lot of these protests for equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity for women.

One thing, though, that truly frustrates me about all the shouting, is that there are a group of females that seem to be slipping through the cracks on a national level.  That, my friends, is the female student athlete.

Now before you roll your eyes and stop reading, hear me out.  I’m not bashing anyone, just wondering if we should shine a spotlight on things.  As a female sports reporter, and former female student athlete,  I would just like to see some things change.  I myself, have fallen into a routine of things, and my goal is not only be a catalyst for change for you, but also for myself.

Out of the 110,000 student athletes in the state of Tennessee, almost 41,000 of them are girls, which is just under 40%.  Girls sports have grown consecutively for the last 16 years.  The number could and should be higher though.  Over half of girls who play sports as a child will quit after puberty.  Seven out of ten of those girls who quit, felt like they didn’t belong in sports.  Only a third of girls in America today feel that society encourages them to play sports.

So why, in a modern society that screams feminism at every turn, are we not encouraging more girls to participate in our schools and community’s athletic programs?   The law has required that these things be open to them since Title IX was passed in 1972.

Girls sports are obviously beneficial.  Better physical health, better grades, better involvement in communities, better emotional health, and the list goes on and on.  So why aren’t we funding these sports meant for girls more?  Why aren’t we rallying around our schools and community programs to encourage more female participation?

Something that is fresh on my mind, is the Girls Soccer Team at JCHS having to go to an off site field to practice every day.  While some members of our community were outraged, did any of us (myself included) offer to raise funds for a better facility for them?  Think about it.  When I cover basketball games, the attendance for the boys is much higher than for the girls, overall.  Go to a baseball game, then go to a softball game at JCHS.  Compare the conditions of the two fields.  Funding seems to be distributed to the girls athletic programs at the bare minimum to get by.  Are we inadvertently sending a message without even knowing it?  I do not believe that we mean to make these young ladies feel like they don’t count, but I do believe that is the message that is getting sent.  Really, can you blame these girls for feeling like they don’t matter?

This is not something that can be fixed overnight, but I do believe that as a community we can rally around these girls and let them know that they do matter.  The more that these girls start to feel like they have a place, the more participation will be encouraged, and the more the younger ones will be encouraged to stay with it.  Providing the opportunity simply is not enough.  We need to take action when it comes to supporting these girls.  Starting at the community level, change can be made that will expand to school sponsored sports and even up to the college and professional level.  Honestly, all it takes to begin is showing up and showing support.  It’s the support of the community that will facilitate change.

I do believe that athletic programs could and should be the forerunners of equal opportunity for our girls.

 

 

Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Sports

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