Ideas

Youth Sports

How does sex segregation in youth sports (before puberty) lead to youths’ feelings of essential gender differences? Do these feelings extend beyond sports to academics, or other realms?

My father taught me how to throw, hit a ball, and generally be coordinated from a very young age (before I could walk). This changed the course of my life. I was always aware of my gender, and I always felt that girls were just as good as boys--in everything. I have a strong belief that this led to my success on the field and in the classroom. That being said, I always accepted sex segregation in youth sports as natural, until several years ago, after reading books such as McDonagh’s and Pappano’s “Playing with the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal in Sports.” They make a very convincing argument against co-ed sex segregation in youth sports. However, my attempts at convincing anyone that we should abolish sex segregation in youth sports fall on deaf ears…

However, I still believe sex segregation in youth sports is one of the worst things we do to our youth. Before there are any physical differences between boys and girls, we teach them that they are different. I would not be surprised if girls believe they are naturally inferior to boys, at an age when they most certainly are not. I could continue McDonagh’s and Pappano’s argument beyond puberty, but I believe it would be most effective to tackle this issue at the youngest ages--because I believe it is the most convincing argument and could have the biggest impact on society.

Krista SchnellComment