Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day and I am once again challenged with which story or anecdote to share to make a lasting impression.
Last year, I talked about how sports brings solace to so many girls and women and that still rings true for me and so many others.
This year, I keep thinking back to an interaction I watched at a local playground recently and I purposely didn’t use the word “better” in the post title because instead of focusing on ‘winning’ I wanted to focus on action and ability.
In watching this group of kids, I was reminded that while we still have a ways to go to gain equality with the time and resources dedicated to girls athletics, we’ve also come a long way in the conversations and interactions that children are able to have as it relates to their sports and activities.
Here is the story:
A group of about 5 – 6 eight year olds were playing on this large spinning ring and each is trying to stand on the ring while the one of them pushed it around and made it pick up speed.
A girl and a boy were standing next to each other as it spun and he proclaims, “I do gymnastics” – trying to explain, I’m guessing, why he was still standing as the others jumped off.
“So do I,” the girl replied her stance solid, not losing her focus or her balance.
And within a couple of minutes, the boy couldn’t keep his balance anymore so he jumped off, and the girl stood proud and finished another rotation. It wasn’t an “I beat you” grin – it was, instead, an “I did it. I’m as strong as I want to be.”
Once the spinning stopped, they all decided to sit and take a break and instead of going to separate sides of the park – girls versus boys – they sat down on the ring and started comparing cuts and bruises and stories about how each came to be.
And I sat there thinking about how awesome it was to see girls and boys playing in a way that wasn’t focused on gender so much as ability. Thinking about how years ago, girls had to just look on and long for the opportunity to do what boys do and how much better we all are for the changes that are occurring every day to ensure that girls have the same athletic opportunities that boys do.
Anything you can do, I can do.
And do it, we will.