Here at Girl Fit Physical Therapy, we are all about supporting girls to become as strong as they can be so they can fulfill all of their dreams. Whether your dream is about winning gold at the Olympics, making the varsity team, getting yourself into shape, maximizing your performance, or trying something new, we are here to help you learn to listen to your body and learn how it can work best for you. We are a clinic committed to girl athletes of all levels, and sadly, the kind of clinic that would not have had to many clients 40 years ago.
In 1966, a young woman named Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. She had to sneak in since it was a men’s only race and she was told that women were ‘not physiologically capable of running marathon distances’. Remarkably (insert sarcasm here), she was quite capable, and finished ahead of two-thirds of the runners.
In 1972 only 1 in 27 girls played high school sports, compared to 1 in 2 boys. Something big happened to help girls get more access to play sports. In 1972, the Education Amendments Act was passed…and there was a little something called Title IX.
Title IX changed a lot. It prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender at educational institutions, including athletics. It required that schools receiving federal funds must provide the same opportunity to participate in sports, that female athletes get scholarship dollars proportional to their participation, and they have the same access to training, supplies, practice facilities, and practice time.
Why is it important that girls are involved in athletics?
Of course we all know the benefits of getting involved in sports and getting in shape. Sports help you eat and sleep better, control mood and anxiety, become balanced and graceful, fight illness, learn to be a part of a team, learn how to manage failure and success, take criticism, and reach your goals. And these benefits cross gender boundaries!
Studies have shown how beneficial sports involvement can be for girls in particular. Girls who are involved in sports have lower dropout rates, lower pregnancy rates, and are less likely to use drugs. And on the brighter side, girls who play sports have higher grades are more likely to graduate college! Girls who participate in sports say they are more content with their lives too! So thanks to increased opportunity after Title IX passed, lots of girls had access to all of these incredible benefits.
So are we all good now?
Quick answer: Compared to those statistics from 1972, now 1 in 2.4 girls are involved in high school sports compared with 1 in 1.7 boys. We have definitely come a long way in terms of participation, but there’s always room for improvement!
Some interesting recent facts:
o In suburban areas, girls and boys participate in equally in sports, but in rural and urban areas there is a bigger gap and girls are less likely to participate
o Young girls of color are less likely to be athletes than boys of color
· Scholarship, recruiting and funding
o In 2014, girls received $201 million less than boys in college sports scholarships
o Recruiting budgets have doubled overall for schools from 1997-2007, but female programs still lag behind…the worst being University of Tennessee that only allocated 18% of funds to women’s sports
o Schools in Division I spend more money on their football programs than all women’s teams combined (2005-2006)
· Coaching & administration
o In 2005-2006, head coaches of Division I men’s teams made on average $1.2 million compared to $659,000 for the women’s team
o In 1996, the Olympic committees and international sports federations made a goal to get 20% of women in their legislative and executive bodies by 2005. They still hadn’t met that goal by 2008
· Professional earnings
o A Forbes ranking in 2016 of world athletes, there’s two on a list of 100. Serena Williams at #40 and Maria Sharapova at #88
o In 2009, the team salary cap for the WNBA was around $800,000. In the NBA, $58 million
· Media coverage
o In 2014, 3.2% of network TV coverage was given to women’s sports
o From 1997-2008, Sports Illustrated had 38 of 676 issues with a woman on the cover. 12 of those 38, the women were in swimsuits
o And when the coverage is there…remember these cringe-worthy moments…? http://www.vogue.com/13466818/sexist-moments-olympics-coverage/ or the current Harvard team controversy...?
While sports are of course about competition, we can always do a better job supporting each other in our quest to reach our own personal goals & dreams! Let's celebrate the women who have done some serious groundbreaking stuff in the world of girls in sports and the woman and girls around us who show us what it means to play like a girl!
Where will we go next?!?
Want more info? Check out Women's Sports Foundation!