The Importance of Strong Female Athletes

All Stars from Jerusalem Celebrating a win

All Stars from Jerusalem Celebrating a win

Today’s blog is written by PeacePlayers International communication intern Ruth Logan.  Ruth recently graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African Studies.

I have been a loyal fan of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team for my entire life.  Over the past twenty-six years, the UConn Huskies have won 10 NCAA Division I national championships, advanced to 16 Final Fours, and won over 40 Big East/AAC regular season and tournament championships.  But while the Huskies’ reoccurring success is a reason to stay passionate, I am a fan because these young, strong, and confident women are key role models in my life.  They have demonstrated that women can be athletic and independent, in addition to being respected and honored.

I have swum competitively for the past thirteen years for clubs, high school, and college.  As I have watched UConn women’s basketball over the years, I have grown as an athlete and as an individual.  I gain motivation to swim faster and improve my stroke technique in the pool when I see my Huskies dominate once again.  If they can work their hardest day in and day out, then I can as well.  Strength and confidence are contagious.

Despite the longevity and success of UConn women’s basketball, the team and sport in general is not discussed much in the media.

College Swimming Championships Saturday Prelims @ Franklin & Marshall College 2-23-13

Ruth swimming the 400-yard individual medley at Franklin & Marshall College.

When researchers examined four newspapers:  USA Today, The Boston Globe, The Orange County Register, and The Dallas Morning News to determine how much coverage was devoted to women’s sports, they found that, “The ratio of mens-only stories to womens-only stories was 23 to 1.  Women-only stories accounted for 3.5 percent of all stories.  If stories about both men and women were counted along with womens-only stories, the percentage of stories containing at least some information about women’s sports was 15.5.”  In order to build and demonstrate a gender equal society, there should be equal media attention, funding, and respect for women’s and men’s sports.  If more media attention is brought to female athletes, more girls and women will become involved in sports, greatly improving their health, education, and life.

That is why in many of the communities where PeacePlayers International works, we prioritize the involvement of girls in our programs.  In Israel and the West Bank, where only 25% of participants in competitive sports are women, more than 70% of PPI’s program participants are female.  As Manal, an 18-year old Arab girl from East Jerusalem said, “PeacePlayers gave me the chance to play basketball, which is rare in the Arab community, and it made me more ambitious for the future.”

Every younger girl deserves a Diana Taurasi or a Maya Moore as a role model.  Let’s make sure we have a chance to see more of them on the television and in the newspaper.

 

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