Sports provide females the opportunity to bridge the gender gap

Females should be encouraged to stick with sports.


by Katie Donnellan, Sports Editor

In grade school, announcement after announcement during a Friday afternoon would always include a reminder to support the boy’s 7th-grade football or basketball game, failing to mention even one grade’s girls team in volleyball or basketball.

Up until this year, the Rim Rock High School Classic for cross-country had different distances for the boys and girls races: 5k for all the boys, 5k for varsity girls and 3k for JV and C team girls. Our head coach confronted the board when one of my teammates questioned the differences. This year, every athlete ran a 5k at Rim Rock, no matter the gender or team.

Boys are encouraged more than girls to continue with sports from the first time they catch sight of a ball until well into high school. The females that do continue in sports, despite lack of support or recognition, benefit from it with a healthier mind and body. I realized sports are a major part of my life and am happy to see that female participation in sports is getting more recognition and encouragement.

I am lucky to say that I have been pushed to compete in sports my entire life. My parents never restricted the amount of sports I played in a season and were always there cheering me on, even if it was my third or fourth soccer game that day. Because of this constant support I still thrive in sports and have gained many life skills through the running, kicking and rowing.

For me, sports provided opportunities to exercise my competitive side. Sports are a concept where you will not be praised for “not caring” because it is all about winning or playing your best. Sports reward those who try the hardest, because they play the most and win.

I saw the benefits of working hard. My soccer coach would always say, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” I believe this is true both on and off the field. I went from making the cut on my soccer team as a substitute player to playing every game in a year because I valued working hard.

Sports gave me confidence. When I was in fourth grade, our class ran the mile in gym class. Everyone expected the girls to be slower than the boys, but I thought this was ridiculous and beat all the boys except one. My “victory” gave me the confidence that I was just as good as the boys who I had been told were superior.

In addition to confidence and competitiveness, sports have helped me create a healthy lifestyle, learn time management and, most importantly, learn teamwork.

The skill of teamwork is the most important concept from sports for females. The world pits females against each other and encourages us to tear each other down.

Sports urge girls to work together to both win and make a statement. For example, the US National Women’s Soccer Team has been campaigning together for a common goal of equal pay for equal play. These women have come together beyond the field to fight for a common cause, rather than fighting against each other to gain more individual attention and a larger salary for the “best” players. They have come a long way in their goal by raising the issue to the public, and a main reason for this is the team effort towards that common goal.

I wish every girl had the same encouragement to participate in sports that I did, but I know not everyone does. For this reason I am currently a board member of the WIN for KC youth advisory board. WIN for KC “envision(s) a community where sport ignites the life of every woman and girl.”

WIN for KC encourages female participation in sports because of benefits including higher graduation rates, better health and higher levels of self esteem.

According to Fortune, over 94% of senior businesswomen played sports until college and over half played in college. Sports are a great opportunity to close the gender gap in the work world. Sports provide a bridge that men are able to relate to and understand the work ethic.

I plan to row in college while pursuing a career in business. I believe my sports background has been helpful in preparing me for the workforce and believe it will be a key part of my resume.

I am thankful for all the nights my dad sat watching the documentary Dare to Dream, a documentary covering the rise of the National Women’s Soccer team, with me. My sport may have changed but I still keep this ritual alive and watch the movie Backwards, a rowing movie, with my dad.