The Independent is reporting that MPs will warn today that PE lessons and an emphasis on competition are putting schoolgirls off participating in sport…
Schools should be more imaginative in the options given to girls, providing them with the chance to do dance, or even rugby, instead of netball and hockey, recommends the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.
The committee also suggests journalists and commentators should “refrain from discussing the appearance of sportswomen and from making derogatory comments.”
These are among the conclusions of a report investigating why levels of participation in sport by women are so low compared to men.
“While some enjoy team games or athletics, others would enjoy sampling a wider variety of activities, such as dance or cycling, or non-traditional games for girls like rugby,” it said.
The report’s authors have consulted grass-roots coaches, world champions, politicians and PE teachers, and also concluded that a lack of communication and co-operation between government departments is to blame.
Improving participation in sport was the most important promise made as part of London’s Olympic legacy, and the report concludes that efforts by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in achieving this are not helped by the Departments for Health and Education not working more closely together to achieve it.
It also criticises the poor level of facilities available in most local communities and raises concerns that “a diminution in the number and quality of sporting facilities will increase the need for more expensive health and social care interventions in a less fit population.”
The greater prize money and coverage on offer to men in elite sport is also a factor, and the report suggests there are “comparatively easy ways in which the media could contribute to reinforcing the view that women’s sport is worthy of interest”.
Currently, only around 30 per cent of women take part in sport once a week, compared to 41 per cent of men…
Hmmm – I hope the actual report is a bit more meaningful than the article about it as it sounds like every possible cause for lower participation amongst girls is being thrown against the wall without any real insights being offered. Also, the idea of making sport less competitive is bizarre: surely sport is competition that is physically based? Maybe more opportunities should be offered for girls to be involved in fitness activities that are NOT necessarily sports if the real issue is a health one? That would (largely) remove the competition element – but of course would not impact on the sports participation figures. It looks to me as if more clarity of objectives and thinking is required here. What do you reckon? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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