June 16th, 2009

Urban Girls Can't Jump

Since 1972, Title IX has allowed young women in middle school and high school to reap the many benefits of participating in sports. And while girls’ sports teams have exploded in suburban areas over the past few decades, urban schools have had a much harder time both attracting young women to sports and keeping them on teams.girls-in-sport

The New York Times focused its attention this weekend on Middle School 51 in Brooklyn, where a the dedicated girls’ basketball coach is struggling to keep his players on the team. In urban areas, schools often have a smaller budget for sports, and fewer facilities–which explains in part the scarcity of girls on the field and on the court.

But cultural factors are at work here, too. Immigrant families often rely on middle- and high-school age girls to do household chores or take care of siblings, and many urban parents are concerned for their daughters’ safety when teams have to travel. By missing out on sports, urban girls are missing out on a lot: in addition to the obvious health benefits, participation on a team has been proven to help students excel academically and, later, in the workplace.

Playing Against the Odds [New York Times VIDEO]

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