By Stephanie Patella '20
February 6th, 2019 commemorates National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This celebration has taken place for over three decades and has brought many women the self-confidence and joy they desire through their favorite sports. On this annual day, women are acknowledged for their success in sports and continue the fight for equality among all women in society. Although the sports world is extremely male-heavy, today we will look at some ways to become motivated to play, be active and truly understand that women can do anything that man can do, especially in sports.
Physical Activity/ Strength:
As high school girls, we are under so much stress with our school work, busy schedules, and countless after-school activities. We have tendencies to eat unhealthy foods when we feel stressed about whatever is going on in our lives, and trust me, I can definitely vouch for that. We sometimes fail to realize, however, that all of this stress and unhealthy eating will cause our bodies to suffer greatly over time. It is important that we try to carve out small amounts of time to play sports or exercise. Physical activities provide strength, stamina, and an overall sense of well-being for our bodies. We are able to recharge ourselves and eventually build our bodies to become much healthier in future years to come.
Creates an Escape Outlet:
Aside from our schedules and excessive teenage eating habits, we also deal with a lot of pressure. Whether our parents are on top of us about our grades for college, social media influencing us to be the people that we are not, or even trying to become the absolute best friend or girlfriend that we can be, we are constantly dealing with our own forms of pressure and we just need to take a break. In order for us to clear our minds, involving oneself in team sports or even going for a run is a great way to handle or ease the problems. We all need a chance to put down our iPhone X’s and take some time to stretch, exercise, kick a ball, run around the block, or do some simple jumping jacks to escape our issues and return with a positive and calmer attitude. I, particularly, find it extremely relaxing to sit down and watch either a football or baseball game to relieve my stress. Since I am a huge Cowboys and Mets fan, I watch these teams play as an escape from a bad situation. In doing so, I can channel my frustration into the many emotions of the game.
Builds Connections and Relationships:
By playing a team sport, young women, like us, learn how to work with and rely on our teammates. This allows us to learn the important lesson of knowing our roles and how we can use them to accomplish a larger purpose. We can build friendships with our teammates that could last a lifetime. There is also a great bonding experience in going through pressured situations together, like competing alongside each other to win a game.
Today’s sports world is mostly male-dominated. As young women, playing sports sends a strong message that we can accomplish anything that men can. For example, female tennis players Margaret Court (Australia) and Serena Williams (U.S.A.) have more Grand Slam Tournament wins than any male tennis player. This highest male Grand Slam total is 20 from Roger Federer (Switzerland) while Margaret received 24 and Serena received 23 total. With this understanding of accomplishment, women learn to not be afraid to speak up and demand equality when it is not given. This was seen not too long ago when the actress, Michelle Williams, spoke out about being paid less than Mark Wahlberg for reshooting scenes in their movie All the Money in the World. The movie was reshot after Kevin Spacey was cut from the film after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. In an interview on USA Today, the director of the movie, Ridley Scott, claimed that the actors had to reshoot the film with Spacey’s replacement, Christopher Plummer. Scott claimed that the film was reshot with little to no money given to the actors. However, USA Today later discovered that Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million dollars for reshooting his scenes, while Michelle was only paid $1,000 to reshoot the same amount. Williams spoke out against this unfair treatment and eventually, Wahlberg donated that $1.5 million to the Times Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle’s name. See what happens when we speak our minds, ladies? Justice is served.
It’s Just Fun:
Of course, sports also serve a simpler purpose: it’s just fun. Growing up, I played about every single sport you could think of and I greatly enjoyed the experience of each one. However, my heart always belonged to softball. My dad would always practice with me and take me to all my games. Initially, my position was outfield, but as I grew older, I graduated to my favorite position, second base. I would catch pop flies, grounders, line drives, you name it. I was just genuinely happy to be at that position and play alongside my amazing team. I used to have a ritual before each inning where I would shift my feet to the right, then the left, dragging my glove on the ground and then spin in a circle in order to fully familiarize myself with the field- yeah it was weird, I know. My dad and I also share a love for football, especially the Dallas Cowboys. And speaking of rituals, we always listen to the song Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi before each game because we believe that it gives the team lots of luck. The overall excitement of watching and playing sports is just a genuinely fun thing to do.
Builds General Confidence:
Girls who may be shy or reserved at school or in social atmospheres have the opportunity to simply let it loose when playing a sport. This allows them to show their true selves and break all barriers. These girls are able to work with their teammates and strive for a common goal. This also enables them to make new friends who share a common interest and gives them the ability to put themselves in a social outlet while also getting some physical activity in the process. Even girls who are very outgoing can build up their confidence when they are feeling down. The overall goal in sports is to simply have fun. Whether you are outgoing or very nervous and shy, sports is one of the best ways to gain confidence, relieve stress and have a good time.
May Lead to Future Career Paths:
Many women play sports throughout their whole lives in order to get into the big leagues. Many young women have been training since they were very young so that they could get recruited for college or apply for a sports scholarship. It turns out that non-athletic girls could even make a career out of the sports world for themselves. One option could include sports broadcasting. If you know a lot about a certain sport and feel much more comfortable on the sidelines discussing the game, sports broadcasting is a great profession that is seen very often today. Many women, including Erin Andrews and Michele Tafoya (football commentators), do research on teams stats, interview players before and after the game and give live updates if a player is injured or something significant happens in the game. And speaking of injuries, another possible profession could be a physician or physical therapist for the players. Players get injured in every sport and are always in need of assistance, whether it be immediate or just a quick bandage wrap after a game.
Builds Leadership Skills:
Many teams rely on their captain to guide them through a play or a tough situation on the field, or just give a simple pat on the back after a game. Being a captain is leading the team through ups and downs of the season. It is getting the opportunity to work with different people and figuring out ways to lead the team to victory. It is being able to work and resolve conflicts. Most importantly, a captain is meant to be a friend and a role model to the rest of the team. Being a captain can build self-confidence and might even eventually lead to a future profession where this quality has a strong impact. This might include being the CEO of a major company or the owner of a business. We can see that the world of sports, and how it builds leadership qualities, can make a lasting impact on many young women’s lives.
In facing daily struggles, handling stress and balancing out our lives, we, as women, need to always remember how truly strong we are and that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. Participating in sports can help us remain strong and healthy people in our lives and in our world. So, make sure to go out there and play some sports, especially on National Women and Girls in Sports Day on February 6th!