Monday, 14 April, 2008 10:28 PM
Girls in Sports
at Record High, Yet Many Girls Fail to Meet Minimal Standards of
Physical Activity, University of Minnesota Report Says
need regular physical activity to reduce risks of obesity, diabetes
and heart disease
courtesy of www.staffordbc.gov.uk
-- A report released today by the University of Minnesota's
Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport shows that
girls are participating in sports in record numbers, but their participation
in physical activity outside of organized sports is declining, especially
as they move from childhood into adolescence.
The report, Developing
Physically Active Girls: An Evidence-based Multidisciplinary Approach,
summarizes the most recent research pertaining to the physical,
psychological, social and cultural benefits girls derive from participation
in sport and physical activity, the barriers that prevent them from
reaching their full potential and the kinds of environments in which
girls learn how to develop and foster the best parts of themselves
both on and off the playing fields.
"The research within
the report confirms that many good things are happening when it
comes to girls and physical activity. Girls are participating in
organized sports more than ever and at all levels -- from organized
youth sports, to interscholastic sports and up through Olympic competition,"
said Nicole LaVoi, researcher and associate director of the Tucker
Center and a report author.
report outlines the benefits girls' reap from physical activity
physical activity can improve health and reduce girls' risk
obesity and chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, osteoporosis
and cardiovascular disease.
participation in physical activity can result in positive
youth development, including social, psychological and motor
girls perform better academically and have lower dropout
rates than do their non-athletic counterparts.
participate not only for competitive reasons, but to get
in shape, socialize with their peers, develop physical skills
and to have fun.
However, despite the
breadth of knowledge specific to girls' physical activity and the
variety of positive outcomes that can accrue through participation,
many barriers, stereotypes and gender inequities are firmly in place
that limit girls, according to the report.
limits many girls' access to, and participation in, physical activity
and sport, especially for girls of color who are overrepresented
in lower socioeconomic groups. So while some girls are physically
active, many girls fail to meet minimal standards of physical activity
needed to accrue developmental and health benefits, or worse, they
are completely sedentary. There remains a great deal of work left
to be done," LaVoi said.
report also found:
participation rates in all types of physical activities
consistently lag behind those of boys and girls' dropout
rates are higher.
experiences are shaped by the quality and expertise of the
adults who make decisions, manage, govern, deliver and coach
physical activity programming, many of whom have minimal
-- if any -- formal training.
stereotypical standards of femininity and masculinity continue
to influence the extent to which girls participate in or
shun physical activity.
athletes continue to be trivialized through the popular
widespread sexualization of women.
models of physical education organized around competition,
team sports, power, strength and aggression which focus
on the "motor
elite" rather than skill development, disadvantage
girls (and boys) who are less skilled to begin with, which
may contribute to a lack of enjoyment and a shunning of
lifelong participation in physical activity.
What can be done to
ensure that all girls have opportunities to increase physical activity?
"The United States
as a whole -- from parents and coaches to school administrators
and community leaders to policy makers -- needs to make a commitment
to eliminating the barriers girls in this nation face when it comes
to engaging in sports and physical activity," said Mary Jo
Kane, director of the Tucker Center. "Physical activity is
not an 'add-on' but rather is a core value and principle for healthy
and effective living."
The Tucker Center report
is designed to provide a road map that puts the nation on the path
to ensuring that every girl has ample opportunity to fully engage
in sport and physical activity. "Often, research done by sports
scholars sits on the shelves and practitioners -- such as coaches,
parks and recreation directors, and physical education teachers
-- view the research as having no practical application," said
University of Minnesota Associate Professor Diane Wiese-Bjornstal,
another of the report's authors. "This report aims at bridging
the gap between theory and practice by detailing the best sports
and activity programs for girls and how to implement those programs."