Women involved in sports and physical activity have shown a significant increase in mental well being over women who are not active whatsoever. 63% of women reported that they rarely, if ever, feel depressed compared to the 40% of women who are not consistently active or involved in a sport. Leading an active life is directly linked to daily happiness and higher self esteem with less negative feelings of boredom and/or loneliness. Not only is there a large body of literature to support these claims, but also evidence demonstrating the fundamental importance of social connectedness for healthy adolescent development which organized sport provides. In short, physical activity is a positive and healthy way for the youth (female or male) of America to spend their down time.
Studies show that women who are regularly active or participate in sports have a higher ability to cope under pressure. It is believed that sports teach our youth numerous transferable life skills, such as how to cope with failure. This can be taught to young girls through supportive coaches who utilize teachable moments to transfer valuable life skills like taking responsibility for their actions or performance results. When adolescent females are supported by nurturing parents and well rounded coaches, sports can offer a platform for open communication, critical thinking/decision making, how to cope with failing or succeeding, how to work in a team, and time as well as emotional management. All of these skills are essential for living a healthy and productive life.
Several reports also reveal that sports and regular physical activity play a significant role in body confidence. Women who are involved in sports and lead consistently active lives have reported higher incidences of feeling less pressure to look a certain way. There is typically no shape conformity on sports teams as they are comprised of women from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes.
Pride is a word which women athletes constantly utilize when describing the feelings they experience from participating in sports and physical activity. Actually, 25% of active women stated that they feel proud on a monthly basis and it is not always derived from winning matches or scoring points. Women tend to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when playing for their community or achieving personal goals they never thought themselves capable of. One on one feedback from coaches tends to be a mental booster as well. Women athletes appreciate hearing when they are doing well and when they are not doing so well.
It was almost a unanimous conclusion that girls who regularly participate in organized sports rate a higher sense of belonging. The social element of organized sports is one of the main reasons girls choose participate in them. At the core sports are truly a pastime and when that is lost so the game. Girls have even claimed ‘friends leaving’ as a reason for quitting a team or no longer playing a particular sport. Teams hold the ability to form lifelong friendships through common interests, partner accountability, and buddy encouragement. Plus, organized sports are always welcoming new comers to invite their friends to join.
It is a fact that a larger portion of women give up earlier on organized sports at the start of secondary school as opposed to college than men. In this day and age it is more common for girls between the ages of 8 -13 to not have an understanding of how to run backwards or even jump than ever before. Therefore making it incomprehensible to give a young girl a bat or ball before they have even learned the fundamentals. We can not blame our schools for these unfortunate circumstances as they do an amazing job at educating which is their number one job. We can however work more fundamental skill teaching into our Physical Education classes which may coax girls into wanting to participate in physical activity again.
Athletic women are more likely to have professional women athletes for role models. When growing up it is vital for young girls to have someone positive and healthy to look up to. Role models help adolescents form clear paths to where they would like to end up in life themselves. Positive athletic female role models encourage young women to participate in life and train for what they want by giving them the understanding that nothing good in life comes at the snap of a finger. It is important for adolescents to understand that they have to work for what they want in life but also balance it with a healthy lifestyle.
Women are not as nearly encouraged to participate in organized sports as men. In fact 27% of women agree that they have never played in organized sports because they were never encouraged to. Most girls who continue to persevere with sports do so because they receive strong support and encouragement from their parents and coaches. It is also noted that boys may receive more encouragement to persist in a certain sport because their interests are not varied, while female athletes tend to want to play every sport available to them.
In older times women were discouraged from playing sports because it clashed with the current expectations of femininity. However presently, female participation in organized sports is much more acceptable and holds much more cultural currency. Today, only 1% of women claim to not play sports because they believe it will make them unattractive and bulky. The rest of the female population instead believe that sports have the ability to teach one to live a healthier life through conditioning and strength training for superior bodybuilding and muscular tone. Thus, the better you feel the better you will live.
Womens organized sports are being taken much more seriously. While they are not quite at the statute of men's sports - women's leagues and organizations are definitely taking strides to make the public aware of their presence. Major steps are being taken to redress the balance between men and women’s sports arenas. Take the Lidl Sponsorship by the Ladies Gaelic Football Association. This association is blazing trails in Ireland at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and has no plans to stop their groundbreaking work any time soon. Women will not back down when it comes to equaling the playing field with men.