Do you remember the days of being a kid; calling your friends and heading to the nearest park to play grounders or to kick a ball around? I certainly do! These memories of participating in various activities and sports are inevitably one of the greatest moments of being a kid. The excitement that coincides with putting together a pick-up game with our friends and neighbors, or attending the first practice of the season and meeting our new teammates for the first time is a rush of excitement. Having the ability to participate in numerous different sports is an experience everyone should enjoy as they continue to grow and get older and move into our adult lives. Participating in sports not only enables us to be active but also introduces us to new friends and develops skills that we will carry with us throughout our lives.
Many statistics suggest that this isn’t the case for most females as 41% of girls between the ages of 3-17 don’t participate in sport. With such a drop in the number of girls participating in sport at that age, 84% of adult women do not participate in sport. Studies show that these numbers are a result of insecurities that arise during that time, decreased quality of experiences (due to not as much funding or volunteers in female programs), or the lack of the equivalent opportunities similar to boys.
With sports evolving to promote girls participating through social movements such as the #LikeAGirl campaign, more and more females are beginning to try new sports. Despite more females participating in sports with the female programs emerging, the statistics still show that girls in their teens are leaving sports. Some might attest to this decrease stemming from the pressures surrounding specialization in one particular sport or cuts made as part of competition.
Speaking from experience, as an athlete gets older; they’re faced with the difficult decision of picking one sport over another. I began playing hockey when I was in the first grade and immediately fell in love with the game. In the 8th grade, I found another passion during the off-season, rugby. I enjoyed trading my skates in for cleats for a few months in the year. A few years later, I was faced with the decision whether to continue playing rugby at the expense of taking a step back from hockey. With my heart set on playing hockey at the University level, the decision was clear and that was the last time I played rugby. Having a wide variety of sports to choose from comes at a price and it’s easy to say most sport enthusiasts at one time or another will be faced with the unfortunate reality.
Another important component in looking at female participation in sports is cuts. Neither males nor females enjoy being cut when trying out for a team. This is one reason why numerous different sport organizations have begun creating teams that anyone can join regardless of skill or ability. Numerous different sport organizations in our community such as hockey, figure skating, and dance take pride in ensuring there is always a place to play and participate, regardless of the level of skill an individual has.
If you’re looking to get involved in sport and re-live the sports we loved to play as kids, try Lethbridge 2017: Get Active Through Sport. To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the Lethbridge Sport Council is providing the opportunity to try 52 sports in 52 weeks through a variety of organized sport sessions. If you are looking for something less formal, we encourage you to try the #YQLChallenge, which consists of 150 things to do in Lethbridge.
- Kirana Stocker
Originally published in the Lethbridge Herald on June 2nd, 2017