Shannon Kerwin, Associate Professor of Sport Management at Brock University, wrote a piece recently published by Sports Business Journal where she imagines what sports would be like if leagues were designed with girls’ ideals in mind.
“Where would you go and where would you play if you wanted a sporting career built around the love of the game?
Further, where could you go – if advancement in your sport wasn’t solely propelled by league profit, pursuit of “perfection” or even personal acclaim?
The lack of alternatives is because almost all leagues, for men and women, were built on traditionally men-centric principles. Win-at-all-costs competition, high performance and militarism are rampant in field sport, and for many athletes and professionals they are the primary answers to “why I do it” and “how I do it.” International Day of the Girl on October 11 – highlighting that girls’ rights are human rights – begs the questions of whether any leagues are designed for their ideals.
From ages as early as five years, children and parents are fed messaging that their child needs to specialize and be in competitive leagues in order to succeed. And so, over the last five years, a significant global push has arisen to advance equity in sport participation and leadership. However, some leaders debate whether the over marketization of sport has resulted in reframing participants as consumers, and skill development as revenue generation. To this end, some leagues have been developed to serve the love of the game and building community, including Canadian Girls Baseball and Athletes United Sports Performance.
But where is support for adolescents who want to play for the love of the game?”
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