How big is the impact of Olympians on our kids?positive role models for girls in sports
IIn 1996 The US women's soccer team brought home the gold. They did it again in 2004 and 2008.
Since 1991 when the US won the Women's World Cup, the numbers of young girls playing organized soccer has sky rocketed. Girls' participation in organized sports, in general, has increased dramatically over the last forty years.
It is clear that the passing of Title IX has had much to do with this. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education. While the federal laws apply to all educational opportunities it appears to have had the greatest impact on girls' participation in sports.
Before the law passed it was estimated that there were approximately 32,000 female collegiate athletes; that number now stands at over 3 million.
In addition to soccer, sports such as lacrosse and softball have benefitted greatly from strong national women's teams and, of course, the Olympics. Women's basketball and, more recently, women's ice hockey have also been positively impacted by the Olympics and national and international team play.
As a result more and more girls are playing on teams within their communities and club play for all these sports has increased dramatically.
There are many benefits to girls' participation in sports.
In addition to the obvious perks such as promoting good health and remaining active, research indicates that girls' participation in sports increases self-esteem and confidence, cooperation and competence.
Related: 8 Secrets for Raising "Can Do" Kids
Olympic athletes in particular provide girls with strong role models. Athletes such as soccer's Mia Hamm, volleyball's Gabrielle Reese, and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn send today's girls the message that female athletes can be smart, successful, and beautiful.
In addition to girls gaining ground in traditionally male sports, athletes who choose sports such as competitive cheerleading, dance, and of course gymnastics and figure skating are finally receiving the accolades and acknowledgements they deserve.
Nothing is more exciting than watching young athletes 'go for the gold.' It is clear that our girls are not only interested in watching the Olympics. Many of them have committed themselves to being champions in the making.
While only a select few will become part of the athletic elite, the benefits our girls gain through team participation are worth their weight on gold.
What do you think? How much do Olympians influence our young girls?
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