Girls and sport

Did anyone see Chrissie Wellington on BBC News this morning, as part of the campaign for schools to make sport more attractive to girls?

I think its really great that they had someone like Chrissie involved, she is a fantastic role model to young girls. But one of the suggestions in the BBC new story is to introduce activities that are more appealling to girls like zumba and dance classes. I'm not sure how I feel about that - seems a bit like getting girls interested in sport by giving them the idea that 'real sports' aren't for girls?



  • that's the reality though. my neice won't play sport at school because it is unfeminine and because it'll make her look unattractive.

    i reckon she'd be more likely to want to do zumba or tap dancing or summat. it's better than nothing (provided girls can still do sport if they want to). this just provides an alternative. plus it is physical education...and not sport.

    and in any case, aerobics is bloody hard work.

    but i take the point

  • I do agree, unfortunately it's a fact of life - and it has nothing specifically to do with boys, I spent my teen years at an all-girls grammar school. You have to understand, there comes a point in a teenage girl's life when her appearance is all-important and most hate looking foolish leaping about in school shorts and getting all sweaty or muddy. They are also usually embarrassed to be seen changing their clothes and exposing their developing bodies in front of the other girls, especially their enemies. If giving dance classes or aerobics gets them active then I'm all for it.

    I was one of the odd ones, as I joined my first athletic club at age 12, enjoyed school PE except for hockey which I thought was barbaric, and learned to swim at an early age. Loved rounders.

  • True, better to have them doing something than nothing, and there is nothing wrong with aerobics or dancing, I just don't like the idea that the answer to girl's not participating in sports is to give them completely different activities. Why not try addressing the idea that sports are unattractive?

  • Ultra Ironwolf - I do understand, I went through that phase myself! But I think I would have hated being shoved in a leotard and into a dance class even more than going to hockey practice in the pouring rain.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I used to play hockey, IW, and it WAS barbaric image

    We had no choice, we had to do sport (this was a very long time ago), and we all played hockey, netball, rounders in the summer, etc.  Dancing was not an option!

    Giving kids the choice of different activities is no bad thing, if it mean they do some kind of exercise.  I've not tried zumba, but I understand it's a good workout. 

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭

    Well - isn't school supposed to be preparing you for the adult world?

    Which is where, when women do "physical activity" it very much tends to be yoga, or step class, or legs-bums-and-tums, or pilates, or distance running/ jogging, or dance, or cycling, or tennis, or "going to the gym", or hiking, with a minor helping of martial arts, table tennis, synchronized swimming, mountain clumbing, and soccer.

    I really do not see what the big deal is about teams and competition. For heaven's sake I used to play in a works 5-a-side  game (where I was the only woman but not noticably the worst player) and the goals were never counted and who was in what team changed from week to week. And most male runners, like female, are mainly trying to improve their own fitness, so how, really, is that all that different from going to yoga or zumba and learning how the hell not to fall over or collapse red-faced in the middle of the session?

  • Is it just girls?  I identify with all of the above.  I avoided doing sport at school because I didn't enjoy it and was crap at it.  I've never enjoyed football and was too weedy for rugby.  I did swim though but from what I gather, that is less of a choice these days do to funding problems.

    CW should be a great role model, but despite how in love with her posters here are, very few non tri people have heard of her.  She can't be there by herself, there needs to be a panel of role models and if some of them are street dancers too then that can't be a bad thing.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Much as I could criticise the lack of sporting opportunities when I was at school - you were either good at football or it wasn't much fun - I'm bloody glad nobody made me try to dance!
  • As long as the hardy hoydens who would prefer to romp about a muddy field whacking each other senseless with hockey sticks aren't forced into lycra for wussy Zumba classes, what's the problem? IMO anything that gets girls (and boys of course) doing any kind of physical activity can't be bad. 

  • As a sport loathing teen, I can honestly say I'd have hated Zumba just as much as any of the other myriad of sports we had to do. Fat, unfit and utterly uncoordinated meant that I was never going to enjoy any sport - and I duly didn't. We had one term of aerobics, and wasn't exactly the "easy" option, it required just as much energy and co-ordination as anything else I was completely carp at.

    Quite happy to watch and cheer and so on, but keep me off the field at all costs.

    I used to arrange my flute lesson for the middle of PE, so that it wasn't worth me changing into PE kit, then out again 10 minutes later. And if I could volunteer for anything that happened in the other PE lesson each week, you could count on my name being first on the list.
  • It is old news anyway, I'm sure that most schools have been offering non-team and non-competitive activities to their girls (and boys) for years.

    At school I was good at rugby and cross country but crap at soccer. When I injured my knee and was dropped from the rugby squad, winter games was purgatory until I encountered hockey. Proper warfare, with real sticks!

  • O for god sake; why do we constantly pander to bloody kids.

    The exams are piss easy so it's thou shall not fail

    The "hard" subjects are being dropped because there are "easier" options.

    Now we want to change the sports so they appeal to girls because they don't want to do it.


    School is supposed to prepare you for life; which is full of lots of things we don't want to do.


  • I agree with Piers.

    I wasn't great at sport when I was at school, but had I been allowed to choose to do a bit of Wii fit or some other completely wet activity (oh, we mustn't make them sweat if they don't like it), I would really have regretted not having the experience of some team sports.

    Sometimes people - especially children - don't know what's good for them.

    There is a place for competitive sport in schools. Schools are told they should 'build character' by thicky Gove, but then told on the other hand to sell off their playing fields and do anything to make P.E. more attractive to lazy children? What builds character more than competitive sport? Learning you can't be good at everything is a key lesson for life.

    I think this is one of the key aspects of public schools that attract people to spend huge amounts of money to send their children there.

    Of course, the experience of enforced communal showers could do with some improvement.
  • See, that sort of talk just sounds like justification for bullying to me. 

    You are small and physically weak, lacking in skill?  Tough - get down and eat mud.  Competitive sport is good for those who enjoy it.  There are other ways to build character.

    The point being made is that it is about encouraging physical activity in those not interested in sport.  Force people against their will to play and chances are, they will only play the once a week and stop as soon as they leave school, maybe never doing any exercise again.  That's if they don't work out how to bunk off of games which was always the easiest of classes to do so with.

  •  I have two girls and I have found with the right encouragement they can aspire to anything. I have a daughter ,27 who played football since she was 11 years of age and still playing; it was hard for her as in those days girls playing the game was still not accepted but in time she won a lot of respect. My little one, 9, now enjoys running, she does the odd park run and has joined a athletic club. Both girls have had my full backing. Now and again remind them how much fun they get from sport and the good friends they meet in the teams clubs rather than listen to silly girls in school who do not get involved in sport or are even jealous.

     With regards to schools and introducing 'girlie' activities, my wife works in a primary school as a sports co-ordinator. They offer a wide range of traditional sports (football, rugby, hockey, netball, cross-country and athletics to name a few) as well as Zumba, street-dance, gymnastics and something else which involves waving ribbons in the air.

    The latter classes have fewer attendees than the traditional events as most of the girls are out on the field! The girls who never joined in the sports before the introduction of the new classes, generally still don't. They either like being active or don't and unless they get the right encouragement, nothing seems to change.

  • I was never fitter than when I was< 16. It had nothing to do with school sports.

    It had everything to do with playing football in break and lunchtimes with my mates - usually with a tennis ball - and walking home 4 miles every day because I'd spent my bus fare on ice cream.
  • All the posters on here seem to be posting that they played football. Football was never offered at my school, it was rugby, cricket or Cross country. Does this make me posh image ?
    Oh And hockey, hockey is by far the most brutal sport image !
  • double hockey?? brutal image
  • Agree hockey is brutal - I got concussed by a hockey ball that was most certainly above shoulder height. Well, my shoulder height anyway - never was the tallest in the class.

    Making someone do something that they hate will only make them hate it more. Some of us are just not cut out for sports. (not even now! image)

    There's a vets league locally that the club keeps trying to sell as being "Like Sports day for grown ups". They can have no idea of the shiver of pure hate and horror that goes down my spine at the thought of Sports day.
  • Trouble is with team sports at school... if your not the most popular person in the class, or you don't have your own little "posse", when it comes to picking teams, your always going to be last - which is not nice. Far better if the teacher puts people in a team - you then get a better balance of players, and learn to work with people other than your "posse".

     And another point to bear in mind with this is some teachers can have favourtism to. I can remember going to try out for one of the school teams (as I was recommended to do so by my PE teacher), when I got there, and it was my turn to strut my stuff, the selevcting teacher turned their back on me and ignored me. I wasnt one of the favourites, so hardly inspiring to be part of sports at school. Have also seen this kind of behaviour in sports clubs, which is not on.

  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭

    Team sports are good.  None-team sports are good.  Both character building.

    I got the impression the discussion wasn't so much about competition as teenage girls not wanting to get their nails dirty.  And that made me incredibly sad.  Chrissie's comment "you can be glam after your PE lesson" also made me sad.

    Surely, being strong, being healthy, being fit, being determined, being good at something, are all positive things to be? 

    It's so sad that society tells our girls that to be 'sexy' you have to look like Cheryl Cole.  Therefore exercise is a no no.  Sad.

    But it's ok becuase we'll now teach you Zumba.

    Wrong way of solving the problem?

  • Problem is with all these girls that want to look glam, any trip round your average supermarket or shopping mall and you'll see loads of teenage-ish girls with perfect nails, an expensive looking perfectly teased hair-do, half a dozen layers of make-up, and expensive designer clothes.... in a size 18+.

    I suspect that being overweight is now so ubiquitous that they don't actually realise they are fat! I mean, they obviously spend tons of time and effort on their appearance. But they don't seem to mind being overweight. More and more small kids are also looking fatter and fatter. 

    I regularly get told I'm too thin by workmates and friends, despite actually being (at least) a stone overweight and with visible belly chub! My boyfriend  is 5'8" and 19+ stone, hugely obese and on three different types of blood pressure medication, yet when I made him go along to the doctor to ask about weight loss, she actually said something along the lines of "No point trying to lose weight, you'll still be on the pills for life, a stone off will be fine..." 

    There's a serious fat epidemic on the go! image

  • I used to really like PE at Primary School when the boys and girls were mixed in together and we did a variety of sports, some were competitive team sports (football, basketball and dodgeball), but we also did athletics and gymnastic type activities. The emphasis was on enjoying ourselves rather than being the best at something.

    In High School when the girls and boys were seperated, and we also had completely different activities,and  I began loathing Games and PE lessons (we had 1 of each a week, supposedly Games was competitive team games and PE was everything else, but they both ended up being games).

    Boys played rugby, football and cricket, girls played hockey, netball and rounders. We both did a smattering of athletics in the summer but really just enough to see who was good enough at which activity to represent their Form Class at sports day. I found that really frustrating, I liked what we did of athletics but we didn't get more than a couple of weeks to try it and develop any ability I might have had.

    Instead of PE being about enjoying exercise and team games - even if you weren't particularly good at them - it became about only being a good student if you were good enough to represent your Form or the school. If you weren't good enough to be on the school team then you were made to feel like a huge failure. Then add on all the other unpleasant things about PE, the kit, the communal showers and changing rooms etc and its no wonder that I hated it.

    I only began liking it again when we got to final year of GCSE and had one lesson a week at the local leisure centre instead of the school. In these sessions we learned completely different things, swimming, tennis, and "fitness" (which was sort of like a circuit class now I think of it) as well as hockey, football etc. The boys and girls were mixed in together. It was really good fun, even people that weren't great at something were encouraged to do their best anyway, and because we didn't have 5 years of prejudice about "being the one who is rubbish at netball/football" it became enjoyable again. So yes, more variety might be good, but lets not act like the only alternative to girls disliking sport is to give them a completely different activity to do.

  • I'm not saying that PE classes should always be mixed gender, but I found the classes that were more fun because everyone learned the same things. There wasn't the idea that the girls were doing hockey because it was a girl's sport and they weren't good enough to do football (although perhaps the boys didn't learn it because the teachers didn't want to arm them with wooden clubs!) and that if you didn't actually like hockey you were rubbish at PE.

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭
    I loathed school P.E.  I was terrible at all team sports (throwing, hitting and catching are not my forte) and always one of the last to be picked.  At secondary school I don't think we did anything other than swimming, hockey, rounders and netball until year 10.  By that time my hatred of P.E. was entrenched and in sixth form I became pretty adept at getting out of P.E. sessions.  I then did no exercise for 4 years, with the result that when I started running, aged 22, I was so unfit I had to follow a run/walk programme.  I think it's more important that kids are physically fit than that they have the life lesson of enduring sports they dislike.
  • loved PE and hockey.but agree its not for everyone so find different activities.......

    I was mad at a poster in my local sports centre about getting women back into sport......some free sessions.......brilliant a thought......

    the first item.........mother and baby swim sessions 5 days a week.........FFS how can you get active and into sport taking a baby swimming......they can only stay in for a short period and you have to be in contact with them at all times.......

    then a mention of 3 free hockey sessions and one other session of something else.......

    the biggest sports centre in the whole borough and thats the best it could come up with.......
  • The sad thing is that all the good work can be undone so easily. Nell McAndrew runs an amazing time for the marathon and all a lot of people can comment about is the fact she doesn't look as good she did a few years ago. Never mind the fact that nobody looks their best after running for 3 hours, but all they can focus on is that she doesn't look like she's just stepped out of the makeup studio and that she now looks a bit skinny. Sadly that's the bits that the girls will focus on, thereby reinforcing even more their opinion that sport is bad for you.

  • I thought it was a bit of a missed opportunity that they didn't stick a bit of slap on Chrissie.  After all, a lot of the chat was about how super body and look conscious girls are at this age and while Chrissie is an amazing role model - she wasn't glammed up at all - she looked a bit like she'd just come in from a training session - which is only going to reinforce the idea that sport isn't 'pretty'.

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