Watching my little sister play hockey has brought me more joy than I ever thought it could. She has loved hockey for years and started playing this past fall. It’s honestly the only time I see her smile. And it’s not just her smile that I love to see, but how proud she is of herself each time she steps onto the ice. At 10 years old, she is starting to develop her confidence. She is realizing that the 8am practices every weekend are paying off and she becoming a better player.
1. Boosts self-esteem. It’s common knowledge that girls tend to have lower self-esteem than boys. Girls’ self-esteem tends to peak at around nine years old and then drops precipitously, while boys’ self-esteem tends to plateau in adolescence. Girls are also particularly likely to be critical of themselves, with one-quarter of older girls reporting that they did not like or hated themselves. In contrast, only 14 percent of boys said they felt this way. Sports builds confidence, it provides an opportunity to practice, improve, and achieve goals.
2. Teaches valuable life skills. When you work with coaches, trainers, and teammates to win games and achieve goals, you’re learning how to be successful. Above all, you’re learning how to function within a unit, and to work collectively with others towards the achievement of a goal. That skill is crucial for success in the work place and the family environment.
3. Improves overall health. In addition to being fit and maintaining a healthy weight, girls who play sports are also less likely to smoke. Later on in life, girls who exercise frequently are less likely to suffer from breast cancer or osteoporosis. As little as four hours of exercise a week may reduce a teenage girl’s risk of breast cancer by up to 60% .Improved mental health and well-being, from low suicide propensity to overall better body image are associated with sports participation amongst girls.
4. Better academic outcomes. Being good at sports also has positive spill-over effects for school. Girls who play sports have, on average, higher grade point averages, lower high-school drop out rates and a better chance of staying in college. Indeed, one study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that government policies aimed at directing more resources towards female sports may have been responsible for roughly one fifth of the 50 percent increase in female college attendance and college graduation between 1980 and 2000.
5. It’s fun and it can be a stress reliever. With the pressure of school, parents, and trying to fit in stress can be at an all time high. Playing sports is a good way to alleviate the every day stress young people face.
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