Are Girls Better Team Players Now That they are in the Game?

You Can Have the Sports Section 

I am not a sports fan. I’m of the mindset that one ball game per year is more than enough – and then only with a couple beers and peanuts. When I grew up in the 50’s, not many girls played sports. Rather, many of us longed to be cheerleaders. I still remember trying out for the squad, practicing non-stop for weeks only to be eliminated in the very first round!

Suffice it to say, I only followed sports if my home-town team was on the verge of winning something big such as the Chicago Bears and their Super-Bowl Shuffle in 1985 and then I learned only enough to make polite cocktail conversation.

Recent Women Sports in the News

The reason I am writing this post about women in sports is because recent news got me musing about how the world of women in sports has changed so much in my lifetime.

  • US Women soccer team wins world cup but the size of its purse pales in comparison to the men’s. 
  • First woman becomes NFL coach. 
  • First Women’s surfing championship held in Oceanside with winning purse equal in size to the men’s.

Beijing Olympics Soccer Women

Title IX Becomes the Law of the Land and the Games Begin 

Many give credit to Title IX (passed in 1972 but its implementing regulations weren’t published until 1975 and its effective date for implementation wasn’t until 1978). Crazy but its focus was NOT sports. Rather, its focus was requiring all public educational institutions that received federal funding, to provide equal opportunities for women with respect to all their educational programs and activities. Its impetus was actually hiring and employment opportunities for women.

The proponents of Title IX look to its significant impact on women’s athletics. Since its implementation, girls’ high school programs increased nine-fold and collegiate women’s programs increased 450% – with the most popular women’s athletic programs being basketball, volleyball and soccer.

True Story About 15 Year Old Girl

I was recently blown away to hear about a colleague’s daughter who is an incredibly good athlete, plays softball and, at only 15, was recruited by numerous colleges and universities and just accepted UC Berkeley’s offer for a full ride.  OMG, no worries about early admission, personal essays, SACT scores or MONEY! Good for her and for her folks who encouraged and schlepped her to and fro since she first held a bat at about 5 years old. It’s great to hear that girls/women have the same kind of collegiate opportunities reserved only for boys/men in the old days.

Team Players and Corporate America 

Before girls had these kinds of athletic team sport opportunities, many in corporate America hesitated hiring women for managerial and professional jobs for fear they did not have “team” experience. Having had numerous positions of leadership in corporate America over the years, I found women to be more naturally team oriented than their male counterparts. Perhaps the guys needed the sports “team” experience to knock their egos down a peg or two – something the gals maybe didn’t need . . . don’t know, just conjecture.

Wind in My Sails 

I do want to share an anecdote about the only sport in which I ever participated – sailboat racing. I have always loved the water, swimming and boating. In my mid-20s, I was asked to join 2 friends on their 19 ft. sailboat named “Streaker”(named before streaking became popular – lest you think we sailed au natural).

We raced on Lake Michigan by Chicago. My first skipper opined that I took to racing “like a pig to slop”. That said, my greatest value was my ballast (a/k/a weight on a windy day) and my ability to follow orders yelled at me by a very competitive skipper. Who knew that “trimgoddamnit” is actually three words?

Fast forward to my mid-40’s when I resumed the sport after a 10 year maternity leave – this time on an all-woman/5 member crew. Picture this scene . . . a sunny afternoon in late August with a light wind blowing and the J24 fleet is battling it out for the championship. It’s the second to the last leg on an Olympic course and we are on a “run” with the wind at our back billowing our multi-colored spinnaker.

To port (on our left) was our competition – the all male crew we had traded first places with over the season. We are “neck and neck” or “beam to beam”. We are only about 10 feet apart – so close we could hear everything they said.

Our strategy was calm, steadfast, purposeful, sail trim and steering with no extra movements to rock the boat. Any questions were answered with calm, clear direction.

Our competition, on the other hand, was freaking out. The more we moved ahead, the more they yelled and fell behind. Never before had I experienced such exquisite joy in this boy/girl challenge.

You probably guessed that the girls won that race and we took first place for the whole season. Our skipper wore green sequins and I wore red ones – yes, we were called “port and starboard” as we accepted the first place trophy at the awards banquet!

So, why am I regaling you with my one and only sports victory? My point is that, in my opinion, and based on my very limited experience, girls/women do not need team sports to understand and implement teamwork – either on the water or in the office!

Size Does Matter

Even though I am not into sports, I am pleased that my athletic sisters can do their thing and hopefully soon they’ll be able to make as much money as the boys – because yes, size (of the purse) does matter.

Tune for this Post – The Super Bowl Shuffle!


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