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National Girls and Women in Sports Day

National Girls and Women in Sports Day

By Jeff Rigley, MSPT, C/ART, Grand Rapids Performance Center

It might seem surprising that a male and father of only boys would be writing about women in sports! But as a former athlete and now physical therapist, athletics is still a major part of who I am. I believe in the lessons learned through sports for not only the physical gains but the mental and social gains that are lifelong! Those lessons have no gender bias and help shape any individual that has the opportunity and privilege to participate.

It is no secret that equality between men and women is far from where it needs to be, but hopefully, things are heading in the right direction. I remember a former classmate in high school being the first female to make the wrestling team at our school. Now, there is a real possibility of the first female kicker in the NFL! This NFL season also saw a female referee officiate a playoff game. There was a time in the not so distant past where that would have been unheard of.

The benefits of athletics and sports are endless. In a time where gender equality is a hot button issue, I hope we can all agree that sports are a great way to help women narrow that gender gap.

Athletics can also aid in health benefits for women by:

  • Decreasing their risk of breast cancer
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Increasing confidence
  • Decreasing their chances of osteoporosis due to improved bone mass

Women in sports also:

  • Have higher grades than students who aren’t
  • Have lower dropout rates
  • Have lower pregnancy rates
  • Are less likely to use drugs
  • Are more likely to graduate college
  • And learn skills that are life-long

In 1972, Title IX ended discrimination based on age, gender, and race. There are conflicting ideas as to whether or not this is what helped open the doors for women to have access to more sports. But we do know that since then, the number of women participating in sport has increased greatly. Ever heard of Toni Harris? She just received a scholarship to play football at Bethany College in Kansas and was recently featured in this Toyota commercial. Women in sports are getting noticed!

There is still a lot of work to do to eliminate the gender gap, but at one time, women were participating in sports at a ratio of 1 for every 27 males – that ratio is now around 1: 2.5 males.

Caroline Potteiger

Pictured here is GRPC patient and high school student-athlete, Caroline Potteiger. Caroline is a great student, she is in Honors classes, participates in Young Life, plays Forward for her travel hockey club and is the goalie for her High School Lacrosse team here in West Michigan!

Today is National Girls And Women In Sports Day – a day to celebrate women’s incredible accomplishments in sports just like Caroline. Sports push girls and women to achieve excellence and realize their endless potential in life AND when playing the game!