On November 7th, 1973, the world of Little League was forever changed when a ruling allowed for girls to participate in Little League. Now, over 40 years later, we have a Mo’ne Davis on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It is truly incredible how one act can inspire and change the lives of millions around the world.
Why should the boys have all the fun? Or all the benefits. Overall, studies have shown that children who join a sports team show more respect for others, better communication skills and more positive decision making skills throughout their life, and as a coach I can say I have absolutely seen this to be true.
When they join a team, kids learn to interact with people in a different way. They are taught the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, community and friendships. Girls are often kept out of team sports, and manifest their friendships in terms of cliques, more exclusive than inclusive. Team sports teach children to include everyone.
The biggest reason for ANY child to join a team at a young age is to create self-confidence through positive reinforcement. This can help in the future during social interactions, job interviews, even help battle the teenage blues! Team sports have been shown to help increase confidence and decrease susceptibility to bullying, depression and anti-social behaviors.
And of course there are so many physical health benefits. Children engaged in team sports are often just as active off the field as they are on it. Choosing outdoor activity over screen time is a healthy habit.
“LESS SCREEN. MORE GREEN!”
And speaking of healthy habits, from making good food choices to learning to congratulate someone who wins over you, playing a sport helps children learn and practice those healthy patterns.
All of this is great…so why should MY little girl play Little League?
Several studies have shown that the positive aspect of team sports is often seen stronger in girls than in boys. Girls who play a sport are less likely to smoke, become obese, suffer from depression, or use drugs. They are shown to be less likely to succumb to peer pressure and more likely to create long lasting, positive friendships.
Studies have also shown that it isn’t the level of competence the girls have that they benefit from, it’s simply the act of participating.
With all of this being said, it doesn’t mean that just playing sports alone will have these benefits. You must remember that it isn’t just the sport but the environment surrounding it. As parents and coaches, we must also help build confidence and teach good sportsmanship, and showcase it in ourselves…even when our kids’ team is the one losing!
So, what do you say? Are you going to let your girl play Little League?