Should Youth Sports Be Co-Ed?

In Spain, women’sásoccer doesn’táget much of the respect itádeserves.

As theáNew 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 wasáa 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 teamábeganáwinning 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 keptácalling 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.

Officialsáhope to leverageáthe victoryáto raise $10,000 through crowdfunding for underfunded grassroots girls’ soccer.áIn the meantime, the club’s membership has climbed to 25 percent female — the highest in the area.

The AIM girls’ victory should resoundáacross the Atlantic, as well.áThe game’s leading scorer, 13-year-old Andrea Gomez, may seeáthe United States as a place where women’s soccer isávalued.

However, that standard for all women’s sportsáremains 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, girlsáoften grow up surrounded by assumptions they are physically weaker than boys — even before differences in strength emerge.

Despite the CDC’s finding thatáthere’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 alsoádrop out of sports by age 14 twice as frequentlyáasáboys.

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, claimingáthat girls just can’t succeed against boys, kinesiology professor Brian Culp maintains thatáwe 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 tellsáthe 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

63 comments

Margie F
Margie FOURIE23 days ago

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

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Gino C
Gino Cabout a month ago

thank you

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago

tyfs

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Caitlin B
Caitlin B2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

thanks!!!

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Angela K
Angela K2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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william M
william Miller2 months ago

thanks

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natasha s
natasha s2 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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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga2 months ago

noted

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pam w
pam w2 months ago

Let the players work that out.....why not? I always remember Mary Janice McMullen...who was in my 4th grade class. Mary Janice was a brilliant athlete! She could do anything! But, she was stymied by the old ''WELL! GIRLS CAN'T PLAY THAT GAME" attitude....such a waste.

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