Soccer Stars

Move over, Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis! Today I am talking about 3 little soccer players who treated a crowd of doting parents and friends to outstanding games last night. I love watching little kids’ games, especially the really little ones, who play like easily-distracted kittens: “Eh, there’s the ball, gotta go run and get…oh, look! A butterfly!” *Scampers off in other directions, game forgotten* The littlest ones were playing with the net, wrestling each other on the field, and intrigued by the stray soccer balls accidentally kicked onto the field by spectators. Sunflower kept turning to see if her daddy was watching her, and when Bear scored, he celebrated like a major league player, fists in the air, whipping around with a “Did you see that?” grin on his face. Wolverine didn’t seem thrilled to be playing defender, but he made a save that bounced off his leg and looked relatively painful. I broke a wrist once playing soccer, so maybe I am simply projecting my own post-traumatic stress disorder regarding soccer balls.

I was proud of all of them, but I’m especially thrilled that Sunflower is playing a sport. With all the negative and dispiriting messages girls get, even at her age, she in particular will need something to offset the “Girls don’t play sports! Don’t you wanna be a cheerleader?” nonsense.

Here are just some of the benefits for girls who play sports:

1. Sports are FUN.

2. Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image than girls and women who don’t participate.

3. Girls who participate in sports have higher self-esteem and pride in themselves.

4. Research suggests that physical activity is an effective tool for reducing the symptoms of stress and depression among girls.

5. Playing sports teaches girls how to take risks and be aggressive.

6. Sport is where girls can learn goal-setting, strategic thinking and the pursuit of excellence in performance and other achievement-oriented behaviors – critical skills necessary for success in the workplace.

7. Playing sports teaches math skills.

8. Sports help girls develop leadership skills.

9. Sports teach girls team-work.

10. Regular physical activity in adolescence can reduce girls’ risk for obesity.

11. Physical activity appears to decrease the initiation of cigarette smoking in adolescents girls.

12. Research suggests that girls who participate in sports are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school than those who do not play sports.

13. Teenage female athletes are less than half as likely to get pregnant as female non-athletes (5% and 11% respectively).

14. Teenage female athletes are more likely to report that they had never had sexual intercourse than non-athletes (54% and 41%).

15. Teenage female athletes are more likely to experience their first sexual intercourse later in adolescence than female non-athletes.

16. High school sports participation may help prevent osteoporosis.

*Borrowed from The Women’s Sports Foundation*

I also read somewhere that, not surprisingly, most female CEO’s of major companies had played sports as children. The ultimate dream, however, is not necessarily that all little girls end up corporate puppet masters, but that they value themselves, their minds, their abilities; trust themselves and their skills; and never, ever think “I can’t do this” simply because they are a girl.

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About TheSmirkingCat

I am endlessly trying to make sense of a world that has completely and unapologetically lost its mind.
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7 Responses to Soccer Stars

  1. Stephanie says:

    It’s definitely true. And I’d like to take an opportunity to say here that I just don’t believe that cheerleading is a sport. Forgive me if you were a cheerleader in a former life (although I must say I’m sooooo doubtful that you could have been). 🙂

  2. Little Wren says:

    My SO’s 11 year old daughter has been playing soccer for a couple of years, and it’s been so beneficial for her. She’s active, learning how to work w/others towards a common goal, and she’s surrounded by other girls with healthy attitudes and body images. It’s been really great for her.

  3. Smirking Cat says:

    Hi Stephanie, no, I definitely was not a cheerleader! I never understood why boys could cheerlead with all their clothes on but girls cannot, why no cheerleaders are at girls’ and women’s sporting events, or why a micro-mini is mandatory in the first place. I can’t stomach girls playing eye candy and cheering on the boys, while girls playing sports is ignored (why aren’t male cheerleaders encouraged to cheer at girls’ sports?)Little Wren, I agree totally that playing sports is beneficial for girls, especially for body image. I read once that playing sports helps girls realize the value of their bodies for what they can do, what they can accomplish, intead of as an accessory for others to judge.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Some of my dearest friends were cheerleaders in High School (even my MOTHER was a cheerleader in Junior High), so I’m not a “Cheer Hater,” but I could not hang with that crowd, even then. At my High School it seemed to be all about how many members of the football team one could be… um… dating at the same time.And today’s cheerleading? Does not even remotely look the same as cheerleading did twenty years ago. I don’t understand the need for micro-minis, either. More than that, it seems that most Cheer Moms are living their lives vicariously through their daughters. Attending cheer competitions? Almost as much fun as getting a root canal, and only slightly less expensive.I’ve never seen so much sizing up, putting down, posturing, and preening… not even IN High School. Evidently no one has shared with most of those poor souls that the wearing of stiletto heels with skintight blue jeans is something one does NOT do past the age of 16 unless engaged in one specific profession. And? That little outfit is also extremely dangerous in Event Centers given the number of stairs and the massive expanse of concrete.OK, thanks for letting me have my little rant.All of that said, I have not discouraged the girls from doing cheer, if that is what they desire. I have commented to them that finding sports they can do for themselves is a great thing and very rewarding. We have discussed the benefits of learning to play on a team, of being active, of competition. I haven’t the foggiest what Velma will choose. But Daphne is joining her school’s basketball team this year and all have been doing swimming for years. I’m anxious to see how it plays out.Thanks for the post. Very informative and timely.

  5. Smirking Cat says:

    It’s a shame, because many cheerleaders are clearly athletic, say, gymnastics. The double standard that girls cheer at boys’ games, but no boys cheer at girls’ games, pretty much ruins the concept for me, before we even get into the rest of it! I have actually heard adults discouraging little girls, as young as Sunflower (3 at the time), from playing sports, and her brother (5 at the time) said “But girls HAVE to be cheerleaders”. He was incredulous when we explained that lots of girls and women play sports. I resent adults priming kids to believe girls have no options, and there’s little more pathetic than the vicarious moms you mentioned. What a girl chooses is the operative word; I don’t like girls being led to think there is nothing else to choose from.

  6. Feminist Gal says:

    you wrote “I also read somewhere that, not surprisingly, most female CEO’s of major companies had played sports as children.”I can totally see that! Sports teach children so many valuable skill to take into their adult lives. Similarly, i read that kids that played a musical instrument were more successful in adulthood as well! And as a marching band kid for 8 years (yes, i said 8 years hehehe) i love that research 🙂

  7. Vesper says:

    i love sports, and i really love your cats. i am so sad that i can’t have cats in the my apartment….so i’m going to move damnit. you are rad, and i have blogrolled ya!

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