Sports offer girls a chance to shine

By Lindsey Hynes
I. J. Samson Junior High
St. John's, Newfoundland

The situation: A group of girls on the basketball team running sprints the length of the gymnasium shouting words of encouragement to each other. Most of these faces can be seen on every other team sport in school with few exceptions. Behind the gym door window are your typical non-athletic, unencouraged girls staring in bewilderment.

Why is it always the same girls on the teams? It's not like other girls can't make it. It's just that they don't even try-out in the first place. Sports are fun, competitive and get us girls off our bums. Why would anyone not even try?

Vicky Beresford who was on the I.J. Samson basketball, soccer and volleyball team plays sports because "it keeps me in shape, it's fun and competitive."

Heather Buffett hasn't played any team sports since being in I.J.Samson and she says doesn't like team sports. "I don't like the competition. I do try to play them though."

As you can see, girls have different opinions of sports. Beresford likes competition, but Buffett doesn't. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there's nothing wrong with trying.

Some girls have tried and just aren't any good at sports. I congratulate them for their effort. Those who don't try are like people who won't read a book because the cover looks boring. Or those who won't try a new hobby like painting or writing because they've never done it before.
It's all the same.

Have you ever been in gym playing soccer with the rest of your class and on the sidelines are a group of girls looking utterly disgusted? Would it kill them to participate? I mean really, who cares if you suck. Sports are to have fun.

There are endless benefits of sports to girls. Have you ever heard anyone say they lost out because they tried to play sports? One study says girls who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, more likely to go on to college, and more likely to graduate from college. They tend to avoid a whole host of risk-taking and self-destructive behaviors: girl athletes have one of the lowest rates of tobacco use among any sector of the high school population; they're less likely to abuse drugs; less likely to get pregnant, more likely to delay their first sexual experience, and have on average, fewer sexual partners than girls who don't participate in sports.

More and more girls are beginning to play sports. In 1970, only one in 27 girls participated in high school sports. Today that ratio is one in three. Last year in the US, 400 girls played high school football; 100,000 college athletic scholarships were available to women, and a record 3,684 women competed on the 1996 Women's Olympic Team, earning 38 medals.

Personally, I love sports. Why anyone wouldn't want to even try is beyond me. Just a word of advice: don't knock it until you've tried it. They're fun and healthy. Girls, give it a try! Show those guys what we're really made of.