Happy “National Girls & Women in Sports Day!”

Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a day dedicated to honoring the achievements and encouraging participation of girls and women in sports.

I’m a big advocate of sports and fitness as a way for girls to stay healthy – mind, body, and soul. In honor of this special day, I’m re-posting my Smart Girls Know affirmation about the importance of participating in sports. And if being involved in athletics has had a positive impact on your life, feel free to me your story for possibly posting on this site.

XOXO Debbie

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Smart Girls Know the Benefits of Participating in Sports
Believe it or not, there was a time when the thought of girls participating in sports was considered to be ridiculous, out-of-the-question…even obscene.

Ridiculous because, well, women were thought to be delicate and frail. That’s why until 1960, women’s Olympic races didn’t include a distance longer than 200 meters…apparently, some “experts” thought their bodies were just too weak to handle it. Others were concerned that certain sports would “deform” girls’ bodies.

And obscene because, until the 1900s, publicly dressing in athletic gear that showed-off bare legs and other “private parts” was just not a “lady like” thing to do. In fact, in 1910, a long-distance swimmer was arrested for indecent exposure (she was wearing a one-piece bathing suit).

Thank goodness there were enough women trailblazers out there to pave the way for us. The progress may have been slow, but it was steady, too. Here are just a few highlights of how the doors of sports participation have opened for girls over the years:

  • 1722: Elizabeth Wilkinson became the first female boxer
  • 1896: The first women’s college basketball game was played between Stanford and Berkeley (playing on a court 1/3 the size of a regulation court)
  • 1900: 19 women competed in the Olympic Games in Paris
  • 1901: Field hockey became the number one sport for girls in the US
  • 1948: The All American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed
  • 1967: Kathryn Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (she didn’t disclose her gender when she registered)
  • 1972: Title IX, a law guaranteeing equal opportunity for girls in sports, was signed

It’s kind of incredible to think that girls and women had to fight so hard to play, especially when today we know that phsysical exercise is such an important part of being healthy.

But what you may now know is that the benefits of participating in sports go beyond having a good BMI (body-mass-index) or healthy heart rate. In fact, being active in sports is good for the mind, body, and soul. Here are just a few of the benefits, courtesy of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Girls who participate in sports:

  • are more likely to get better grades and graduate than girls who don’t play sports
  • are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy in school than girls who don’t play sports
  • have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, and lower levels of depression than girls who don’t play sports
  • have a more positive body image than girls who don’t play sports
  • may reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 50%
  • may reduce the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) in older age
  • will learn valuable lessons about team-building, goal-setting and the pursuit of excellence, which crosses over into other areas of life

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