By the time they turn 14, twice as many girls drop out of playing sports as boys, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. That's a big loss for young women, since participating in sports helps build confidence, teamwork, and other life skills.
One high school in New York City has felt the effects of that statistic: Liberation High School doesn't have a single girls' sports team, but not because the school can't create one. They just don't have enough girls interested in playing to make up a team.
And those who'd love to join a team if one were available have some thoughts: Two students from the school shared what not having a sports team means for them in a new video from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
"Growing up as a girl you're always told you just want to look pretty. And sports have to do with getting messy, getting competitive, getting dirty," Yana, a student at the school, said in the video. "I don't think that way, but I know a lot of people do."
She's right: The Women's Sports Foundation identifies social stigma and lack of positive role models as two of the six main reasons they believe girls stop playing sports.
"Today’s girls are bombarded with images of external beauty, not those of confident, strong female athletic role models," according to the foundation. "To some girls, fitting within the mold that they are constantly told to stay in is more important than standing out."
The foundation also writes that girls may want to avoid looking or acting too athletic in an effort to avoid being teased for looking too masculine or being labeled as gay. The idea that being gay or falling outside of strict gender roles is something to worry about is another problem entirely, but this kind of teasing still does happen.
"At age 14, those types of insecurities are becoming part of who you are," Tiffany Gross, a teacher at the high school, said. "If girls were to play more sports, I really feel like that would build confidence at an age when it's really important."
The two students from Liberation High School agree, and feel that being allowed to play sports would have changed their lives.
"I feel like if I would've kept going with my sports — I'm not going to lie, I probably would've done something better with my life," a student named Sonia said.
"I want girls to be positive," Renee Thompson, the school's PE teacher, said. "To look at themselves as 'I am good enough, I am what I am with no excuses.' [Sports] helps to build that."
Watch the full video below:
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