You throw like a girl – be proud of that!
A friend told me a story the other day. His son’s hockey coach told the team they skate like girls.
Not ‘skate like girls’ because there’s actually a girl on the team and she’s really the best skater they’ve got. More like the ‘skate like girls’ in a ‘you guys suck’ kind of way. Those boys (and that one girl) have sisters and mothers. Whether that coach knows it or not, he’s teaching that team that skating like a girl, throwing like a girl, being a girl means that girls are weaker, less athletic and slower than boys.
Do you, as mothers believe that’s true of your daughters? I sure as heck don’t.
A recent study by Indiana University found that until puberty girls and boys are equally athletic. It found no difference in performance between boys and girls under 8. It also found little difference in girls and boys 11 and 12 year olds.
Last year, when my daughter was 6 years old, she wanted to play on a baseball team. She can hit the ball out of the park, but she didn’t want to play with boys. When I searched for baseball leagues for girls my daughter’s age (not softball) there were none. Not in Toronto, not in the GTA, not in Ontario. So I started one. And within weeks we had dozens of girls registered.
Within 6 months we had more than 200 girls on our roster.
And we’re still just getting started. But one program in one city is not enough. In Canada, 41% of girls ages 3-17 do not participate in sports. And young girls who are not physically active by 10 years old only have a 10% chance of being active as adults.
Two recent studies featured in the New York Times suggest that participating in physical activity, particularly sports, has benefits for girls including a reduced risk of developing cancer, better grades, and high self-esteem.
Toronto Girls Baseball shows the girls what they can aspire to be. The club has players from the Canadian National Women’s Baseball team as coaches. They bring their heavy silver medals from the PanAm Games and from the 2016 World Championships in South Korea, and players try them on and take photos. The coaches are role models, showing our girls what they can achieve if they find a sport they love.
Being part of a team is not just about being active, it’s about confidence, coordination and teamwork. And it teaches our daughters that throwing like a girl – and skating like a girl – is something to be proud of.