My daughter is a little firecracker with enough energy to light up a city. People turn their heads when she enters a room, with this energy she has and her charisma. She is a smart, sociable and friendly little girl. And she has a green belt in karate. My daughter may be only 7 years-old, 3 ½ feet tall and 40 pounds, but I wouldn’t mess with her. She will take you down. And I am proud of her and the way she has embraced a sport she loves and at which she has excelled.
It is a well-known fact that females do not participate in various aspects of sport as much as males. More, but not all, girls participate more widely in activities like dance or gymnastics. While every active pursuit has its merits, I think girls are often underrepresented in traditional sports like baseball, hockey or karate.
I am not going to dive deep into research and quote any statistics about the importance of sport for everyone – children and adults or males and females. Whether you participate in a team or individual sport, I think it is both physically and emotionally healthy to do so.
I am not a, shall we say, natural athlete. I was drawn to the idea of sport when I was a child and was lucky to live on a quiet street where all the kids hung out outside and rotated between various sports each day like baseball and ball hockey. I couldn’t catch a ball (I still can’t), but I could hit the ball down the street with one swing of the bat. I was fearless with my hockey stick and shot the puck past all the big boys in goal.
As I grew up, in the 1980’s, I had a few female friends who played competitive hockey or maybe soccer or lacrosse. But for the most part, our parents signed us up for dance, piano, gymnastics, figure skating and maybe swim lessons. It wasn’t on their radar to put their daughters on a local baseball team or power skating class. And it didn’t occur to most of us girls to do anything different.
But for me, in 2017, as I raise two daughters, I want them to embrace sport. It doesn’t really matter to me what sport they choose, but I want them to know this is a choice they have. We signed up our kids for karate when they were quite young, and my daughter in particular has shined. She is a natural at this sport, and as she trains and becomes quite skilled, she loves it more. Karate has taught her about self-discipline and respect for others. She has learned self-defense and has tremendous muscle strength. She may be small, but wow she is mighty.
The baby can’t even walk yet (but she could beat me hands down in a bum-walking race across the kitchen!), but as she grows up I hope she wishes to pursue a sport of her choice. I want my girls to know that they can do anything they set their minds to. I want them to dream big. If my 7-year-old wants to get her black belt in karate or if the baby wants to be the star pitcher on a baseball team, great.
In my house, the pursuit of sport is open to my son and my daughters, and I hope that is the case in every household. Girls thrive when they are involved in sport, so let’s all stand with our girls to be active, competitive and successful.