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Empowering Women in Sports

Sports for All, Not Just a Few!

Because of the current emphasis on superstar" athletes, many girls and boys who are not "superstar" material are not encouraged to play sports or participate in fitness activities. Certain college sports such as football and men's basketball function not as an athletic component to a solid college education, but as the "farm leagues" of professional sports. The stars of these sports receive large scholarships and other perks and, in exchange, are expected to practice and play without regard to their own health or injuries. It is expected that some of these athletes will go on to earn fortunes for themselves as well as for the owners of professional football and basketball teams.

In contrast, other sports receive much less funding and attention. This type of preferential treatment of "superstars" would never be tolerated by other departments at universities. Imagine if the English department gave huge scholarships and the best professors only to the future "Stephen Kings"! By putting so much time and energy into only the "super" male athletes, we have made sports an entertainment vehicle at the expense of the athlete's health and well-being. The current system denies both girls and boys a good health and exercise education.

An alternative would be an emphasis on "lifetime" sports in which everyone could participate. Walking, jogging, swimming, golf, tennis, cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, folk-dancing, and horseback riding are fitness activities that people of all ages can enjoy, with little risk of injury. Intramural sports are often a hidden, unpublicized component of high school and college life, yet they can provide opportunities for exercise, fun, and teamwork for almost everyone.

(Empowering Women in Sports, The Empowering Women Series, No. 4; A Publication of the Feminist Majority Foundation, 1995)