Should Youth Sports Be Co-Ed?

In Spain, women’s soccer doesn’t get much of the respect it deserves.

As the New York Times notes, a 30-year-old top women’s league finally signed on its first big corporate sponsor last year. And despite being Spain’s biggest club, Real Madrid doesn’t include a women’s squad.

So, when a girls’ team recently won the championship in a league of boys’ teams, the accomplishment was a big deal.

In 2014, girls playing for a team in the amateur club AEM Lleida registered to play in a boys’ league. They lagged for a few seasons, but then the team began winning more often.

And, as the Times notes, this sparked ire.

“It’s really been more of a problem for parents rather than their boys,” league general director Jose Maria Salmeron tells Times. “It’s strange, but most of the macho comments and insults have come from the mothers of some of the boys we play.”

Even referees opted in on the sexism. One kept calling the girls “las princesas” — the princesses — during the game. Another asked the coach if the girls were on the wrong field.

Then, they won their final home game against their biggest rival.

Officials hope to leverage the victory to raise $10,000 through crowdfunding for underfunded grassroots girls’ soccer. In the meantime, the club’s membership has climbed to 25 percent female — the highest in the area.

The AIM girls’ victory should resound across the Atlantic, as well. The game’s leading scorer, 13-year-old Andrea Gomez, may see the United States as a place where women’s soccer is valued.

However, that standard for all women’s sports remains a low bar to clear.

Like Spain, the United States doesn’t back girls’ sports as enthusiastically as boys’.

And as I’ve noted before on Care2, around 4,500 public high schools still have substantial gender inequality, despite Title IX legislation.

Furthermore, girls often grow up surrounded by assumptions they are physically weaker than boys — even before differences in strength emerge.

Despite the CDC’s finding that there’s no substantial difference between boys and girls’ strength from ages 6 to 11, physical education tests set standards for girls to do fewer pull-ups and run slower.

Girls also drop out of sports by age 14 twice as frequently as boys.

Realizing these inequalities should make us seriously consider if youth sports should be co-ed.

As the Indy Star notes, one survey finds 61 percent of Americans support co-ed sports.

While some object, claiming that girls just can’t succeed against boys, kinesiology professor Brian Culp maintains that we don’t know the reality of what girls can do.

“It is assumed that girls are not physically able to play with boys, but if they do not get access to the same training, coaching and support, how do we know?” Culp tells the Star. “There will always be statistical outliers, and those girls should be allowed to compete on a playing field with others of the same skill level, irrespective of gender.”

Photo Credit: Loren Kerns/Flickr

65 comments

Telica R
Telica R16 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Margie F
Margie F4 months ago

Of course not. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.

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Gino C
Gino C5 months ago

thank you

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Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago

tyfs

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Caitlin B
Caitlin B6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

thanks!!!

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Angela K
Angela K6 months ago

thank you for sharing

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william M
william Miller6 months ago

thanks

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natasha s
Past Member 6 months ago

I'm all 4 co-ed and having both boys+girls too. Girl/women athletes need more funding/sponsors. You'd most certainly see less girls dropping out of sports if they knew the same opportunities awaited them as the boys. But in no country/no sport is that the case. With 1 exception being tennis where women are paid extremely well+about the same as the males.

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