Any female athlete knows the feeling of playing in front of empty stands. It doesn’t matter the sport, it doesn’t matter the skill level, it doesn’t matter the record, it doesn’t even matter how much effort we put into it, we know the feeling. We also notice the stands filled with unrelated faces cheering on the boy’s teams regardless of the sport, the skill level, the record.
A few weeks ago, I went to a Derby Junior Football game, and I saw a sea of green in the stands. The support of the entire community for kids in elementary school.
Then I thought, what about girls? What if girls had a program teaching them a competitive team sport from second grade through high school? What if girls had quality coaches putting effort into their teams and a community who supported them? Not just because they had a daughter on the team, not just because they need to satisfy Title IX requirements, but because they genuinely wanted girls to succeed.
And, while I’ll note that girls can and do play football, it’s not a sport that many girls are interested in. In fact, according to a recent NFL article, just 0.2% of high school football players in Kansas are girls. Even the DHS athletics website labels the sport as “boy’s football.”
But this isn’t about being “fair” – it’s about giving our girls something they’ll cherish forever: confidence and support. According to “The Confidence Code for Girls,” between the ages of 8 and 14, confidence levels drop 30% for girls, whereas confidence levels for 14-year-old boys are 27% higher than those of 14-year-old girls. Participation in team sports is proven to improve self-esteem for girls.
Now, imagine what kind of community we could build if we showed up for girls’ sports. In a perfect world, we’d have Derby Junior [insert sport here] for girls, or at least a sport that both girls and boys are equally interested in participating in (I recognize the wrestling club, yet it’s a sport with less than 8% girl participation nationwide). I understand that’s a huge undertaking, but aren’t our daughters worth it?
Maybe it’s time girls are taught that their green is magic, too, and it doesn’t belong on the sidelines.