Girls Who Get Sporty With It Lead Better Lives

When I think back to the good ol’ kid years, one of my strongest memories is swim team—the grueling practices, the butterflies in my stomach waiting on the starting block to dive in for a race, even the joy of a Cheerwine (yeah, it’s a Southern thing) after a big win. Many of my friends echo this and very strongly remember their time on the volleyball team or as a star on their high school women’s basketball team. Title IX, which requires schools that get public funding to provide equal opportunities for boys and girls, has been in effect for nearly 40 years, and it’s led to an explosion in the number of girls participating in sports. Researchers are now starting to look at what kind of effect that’s had. In addition to having lower rates of teen pregnancy, girls involved in sports also get better grades and report higher levels of self-esteem. And a new study by Dr. Betsey Stevenson of the University of Pennsylvania looked at statistics state-by-state and found that in places where more girls participated in sports, there was a 20 percent increase in women’s education level and a 40 percent boost in employment for women ages 25 to 34. Another study by a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago correlated lots of girls participating in sports with a seven percent decrease in risk of obesity once the girls reach their 40s. Today, one in three girls plays a sport compared to one in two boys. What will happen when those numbers are equal?

Did you play a sport when you were a kid? Which one? Share a memory in the comments section. [NY Times]