National Girls & Women In Sports Day: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do

by Dana on February 1, 2012

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

{ 3 comments }

1 Josette at Halushki February 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Here’s my story:

5th grade end of year day camp field trip. Lots of fun team building activities, rope courses, etc.

One activity was a car tire suspended about 5 feet off the ground. The kids had to help get every kid from one side of the tire, through the tire, to the other. A few of the very athletic boys jumped right up and put themselves through the tire. But then they had to help get other kids up and through, and couldn’t from their side. Other boys thought the needed to help get a few decidedly un-athletic kids up and through the tire, and after trying to hoist them different ways through sheer muscle, weren’t able to.

Meanwhile, a group of smallish girls were trying to give suggestions, but the boys kept telling them to sit tight, they would figure it out and help the girls get through the tire.

After about twenty minutes with no solution, the boys gave up, and the group of small girls stepped forward and formed a cheerleading pyramid. The other kids were able to walk up the pyramid. They then taught the boys how to do cheer lifts to get the larger boys over, and then how to use the cheerleading lifts and pyramids to help get kids down the other side.

Finally, the last girl did some sort of gymnastics maneuver to get herself up and through the tire.

No “I told you so” and no “Why didn’t you listen to us.” The boys were honestly impressed. There’s no such thing as a “girl sport”.

2 Dana February 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Josette – Thank you for sharing such a great story. It has me grinning.

3 Heidi February 8, 2012 at 9:10 PM

From a time much closer to when Title IX was passed… I was in high school, James Madison HS in San Diego, CA to be exact. The boys had a weight room that only the boys were “allowed” to use. During a summer break, we pitched to the Boys Coaches that we (the girls) would revamp the weight room on the sole condition that the Girls would be permitted to use the weight room.

Can’t remember (oh so many years ago!!! 1977) exactly who participated, but I vaguely recall it included Lori Ray, Lois Jones and me, and there were 1-2 others. We worked our butts of that summer, removing the tiles in the floor, moving equipment, prepping the room and painting it – not just one color, but two-tone! until it was just awesome!!!

Did the girls ever get to use the room? Not in my days – don’t know that anything has changed or if the weight room even exists any longer with all the cuts schools have had to take. So much for equality in the late 1970’s!

Unfortunately, I didn’t see it in my time in school. But in my coaching & training since, I advocate and encourage girls to take a stand based on ability.

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