Score! How playing sports is a slam dunk for girls

On a crisp fall day, in a high school in the suburbs of New York, a girl crouched on a starting block. She wore a light turquoise bathing suit, her hair was in a swim cap, and underneath her blue goggles, she had a determined look in her eyes. At the sound of a buzzer, she flew off the block, into the clear water. Her arms and legs thrashed through the blue water like a well oiled machine. She flipped gracefully at the wall, then sprinted the final distance towards the end. She was the first to hit the wall. The girl looked up eagerly at the scoreboard. P.Stedina - 24.9. She pumped her arms in the air. She had done it! The girl was Paige Stedina. The time was good enough to get her into Stanford, her lifelong dream, and an amazing school for swimmers. Swimming was how she met her best friends. Swimming was what kept her in top shape all year round and helped her recover from a badly sprained ankle. And now, swimming was sending her on a big scholarship to the best university for female swimmers. Swimming taught her hard work, discipline and many other important life lessons. Swimming was who she was. Like many other female athletes, her sport had shaped her life. It empowered her to be her best. That is true for most female athletes - sports can empower them in many ways. Playing a sport improves their health, social skills, teaches life lessons, and opens up new opportunities.

sports put brains in your muscles

One of the most obvious benefits of playing a sport is health. Studies show that if you play 3 or more sports, you have a lower chance of obesity than non athletes. This is especially important for kids, who are drawn in by ads for sugary drink and junk food. It makes sense. You play sports, keep fit, burn calories and stay healthy for life. Your sport can protect you from all sorts of things. Another health benefit is a huge reduction in risk for cancer, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and even back problems. The article, “Athletics in the lives of Women and Girls”, proves this. The article says, “Women who exercise at least 4 hours a week reduced their risk of breast cancer by 50%.” This is a huge deal. Even though doctors and technology are getting better each day, many people still die from cancer. Now we have scientific evidence that says that getting the right amount of exercise can help protect you from it. Doctors recommend 60 minutes exercise for girls and teens. That’s about the amount of 2 sitcoms, or half a movie. That little bit of time can help protect you from cancer.

One of the less obvious, but equally important, ways that sports empower girls is by teaching them life lessons. Some lessons are self confidence, being a graceful winner or loser and discipline. Other are working as a team and stepping up to be a leader. One of my best friends is a great natural leader. Her confidence and leadership skills are due to her many sports. Working with people as a team is also extremely important. An interview with young track star Rose King proves this. “Sports taught me a lot of lessons that I couldn’t learn in the classroom,´ she says, ¨A lot of these skills I use even outside of sports. I learnt to be graceful winner and a humble loser. I learnt a lot of discipline, and worked hard to achieve my goals. My personal sports and life mantra is- never give up” Sports teaches you to never give up, even if your rec team is getting crushed by an all star travel team. Keep trying, eventually it will pay off. King learnt to accept defeats and wins with equal tact and learnt good sportsmanship. Even now, as a sophomore in college, she is using this skill set and will probably continue to use it all her life. So don't shun sports, they are just as important as academics; they can teach you a lot, on and off the field.

A Syrian refugee. A girl from Mumbai, India. What do these girls have in common? They, along with many other athletes, were all given new, valuable opportunities by their sports. One a swimmer, the other a soccer player. The refugee swum across the Mediterranean Sea, saving her and a dozen other lives. She went on to the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. The Indian soccer player was accepted by the Standard Chartered bank Goal program. She got an internship at the bank, learnt English, and was recruited to teach many other girls; not only about soccer, but health and money. Both girls were not only healthier and smarter because of sports, they were given a second chance by them. The range of opportunities given by sports is huge, everything from a trophy on a shelf, to Every female collegiate sports player understands this. Some were awarded athletic scholarships to college, saving their families thousands of dollars. Others were recruited to professional teams by college games. Many have traveled the whole world with their college teams. Sports opens many doors, and gives many new opportunities, from a new life, to education, to a career.

“True champions aren't always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.” -Mia Hamm

Has anyone ever told you that sports don’t matter? That they are not as important as school? Ever heard a parent say, “Stop playing and come inside to study!” Well, school is extremely important, but sports have incredible impacts on the empowerment of women and girls. They help improve physical health in many ways, as well as teach important life lessons that last a lifetime. They have the power to open new doors, just like education. So don’t drop that lacrosse stick, don’t stop shooting baskets. Keep running, keep trying. One day it will pay off, big time.



Created with images by evoo73 - "though chaos" • KeithJJ - "basketball girls basketball female" • KeithJJ - "softball girls game" • psmithy - "St. Mark's Girls Lacrosse" • wsilver - "Elise diving in" • KeithJJ - "soccer female game" • oscarandtara - "200m Epic" • Legend - "Walking in the Morning"

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