Posts Tagged ‘ sports ’

What It Means To Do Things Like A Girl

Thursday, July 10th, 2014


The feminine care company, Always, is trying to change how we think about the phrase “like a girl.” They recently came out with a new campaign to support their cause. Since it debuted on June 26, the #LikeAGirl video message has been viewed about 32 million times on YouTube.

In the video, people are asked to perform certain actions as a girl. Both men and women run, throw, and fight in a dramatically negative, weak, and ditzy way. Then young girls are asked the same questions. They perform in a way that gave me chills, filled with strength and confidence.

Watching this made me immediately think of my 16-year-old sister, Kendall. She is the most athletic person I know. Most of her life has been spent on sports teams—from softball to cheerleading. As stated in the commercial, “a girl’s confidence plummets during puberty.” At 12, my sister won a national championship with her competitive cheer team. As a base, she lifted girls the same size as her to do elaborate stunts. But my sister has never valued her athleticism. We grew up in a town that glorifies football players. Girls sports, on the other hand, are side notes. Even though she went to cheer practice six days a week for the past six years and runs three miles a day, Kendall does not have as much pride in her athleticism as a boy her age with the same athletic drive as her would. The highlights in her hair and the shirt she just bought at the mall seem to be more laudable than the amount of flips she can do without stopping and how fast she can go around the track.

But my sister isn’t the only girl who feels this way. Girls’ athleticism is generally undervalued. #LikeAGirl proves this. Most of all, the underlying message is doing things like a girl makes one appear weaker than boys.

Doing things like a girl truly means doing things like my sister—with persistence, passion, and focus. It means achieving goals and not being afraid to show strength. No matter how old your daughter is, fostering confidence in her physical skills is essential and to encourage her to be proud of being a girl.


Take this quiz to see if your child is ready for team sports!

Fit Kids
Fit Kids
Fit Kids

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University Recruits 9-Year-Old Basketball Prodigy, But Is It Appropriate?!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Kids Playing SportsI grew up playing soccer and basketball. I wasn’t any good, though. I was lucky to get my own coach to notice me, so I definitely wasn’t thinking about college recruiters. Well, a 9-year-old girl in Florida is the complete opposite of me.

Jaden Newman of Orlando became the youngest basketball player ever to be recruited by a Division I women’s basketball program when the University of Miami sent her an official recruitment letter back in April. The 4-foot 7-inch phenom has been making a name for herself while dominating the court against boys three years older than her. Her skills have landed her on TV shows including Good Morning America and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

And Jaden isn’t alone. More and more, news stories have emerged of college programs going after young athletes before they even start high school. The New York Times profiled a 14-year-old soccer player who already committed to playing at the University of Texas. Then 8th-grader Dylan Moses landed the cover of ESPN The Magazine after receiving scholarship offers from many of the top NCAA football programs in the country. Jaden’s 12-year-old brother, Julian, has also made a few headlines of his own.

But, is 9 years old too young for colleges to contact potential players?

While the gut reaction may be, “Of course!”, I’m in favor of the early recruitment. I understand the arguments “Let kids be kids” and “They don’t need the extra pressure,” but I believe the attention offers encouragement more than pressure.

My older brother grew up playing baseball, and unlike me, he was pretty good. I remember going to games and hearing chatter of how professional scouts took notice of him as early as middle school. The encouragement that he could possibly have a future in the sport he loved made him work harder. And that was because HE loved it, not my parents and not his coaches. He was the one who wanted to pursue baseball.

Of course, like many things in life, responsibility falls on parents and coaches not to create extra pressure on young athletes. Kids should play sports because they love it, not to meet expectations. And if kids are growing up with goals of going to college (and not goals of just becoming rich and famous), please, let children get excited about scholarship offers — especially girls. Women athletics don’t get the same amount of money, sponsorships, press coverage, respect, and attention as men’s sports, so if the goal of earning a college scholarship encourages more girls to participate, is it a bad thing?

I absolutely believe that there should be strict guidelines about the frequency and the ways that colleges reach out to young athletes, but to me, being recruited is not about creating extra pressure if kids show early interest in sports. It’s about creating a goal, a goal that could lead kids to an amazing opportunity. Now, parents, coaches, and universities need to make sure they’re doing their part to ensure young athletes can maintain their passion for the sport without feeling the added pressure, too.

Tell us: Do you think there should be an age limit on universities contacting future athletes?

How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer
How to Pitch Like a Big Leaguer

What career will your child have? Take our quiz to find out!

Image: Image of happy friends on the grass with balls looking at camera via Shutterstock

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Tennis Lessons for All

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I find it hard to resist any opportunity to talk about my favorite sport. And while we’re still buried in a once-in-a-generation winter of snow and cold in the Northeast, tennis is about to make some big news. Not among the pros, where the action won’t heat up again for several months, but at the recreational level—which is far more important for its future.

Never have the ranks of top U.S. players been so slim: Serena Williams, dominant though she still is at 32, is our lone bona fide Grand Slam contender (though Sloane Stephens could well join her soon). No American man has won a major title since Andy Roddick in 2003. Unlike many other countries, we aren’t drawing the best athletes to the sport and aren’t keeping them.

Recognizing the problem, the USTA is wisely focusing its efforts on the grass-roots level. The goal: Get more kids to give the game a chance, and help them be successful and have fun from the beginning so they stick with it. That’s what World Tennis Day is all about. On Sunday morning at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (site of the U.S. Open), the USTA will attempt the world’s largest tennis lesson, featuring more than 250 children (as young as age 4) from local youth organizations. If successful, there will be a special presentation ceremony Monday evening with the Guinness Book of World Records at Madison Square Garden prior to a singles match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The night’s biggest entertainment, though, could well be the sibling matchup between U.S. champions past (Patrick and John McEnroe) and current (Bob and Mike Bryan).

This isn’t a mere publicity stunt. The USTA is truly investing in the game. It has launched 10 and Under Tennis and built more than 10,000 kid-size courts that make the game easier to learn (especially when played with slower, lower-bouncing balls). It offered 1,400 free opportunities for kids to pick up a racquet last year and partnered with FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. The organization has committed to installing 5,000 additional kiddie courts and training 15,000 new youth coaches, trainers, and volunteers during the next three years. These efforts are already paying dividends. Tennis participation is at its highest level in three years and, notably, has increased by 13 percent among kids 6 to 11. The goal is to attract a new generation of fans and lifetime players. Maybe one of them will be the next Serena. Maybe not. But these moves have tennis back on the right track.

Want to get your child started in this great game (as I did my son, who will be beating me before long)? The USTA is hosting events for kids and families (many of them free) around the country throughout March. Find one one near you here. While you’re at it, why not pick up the perfect junior racquet and outfit for your child.

Tennis Lessons
Tennis Lessons
Tennis Lessons

Young girl having fun on tennis court via Shutterstock.

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From Ultimate Tragedy to Chasing the Gold: One Mom’s Olympic Journey

Monday, February 10th, 2014

noelle pikus pace olympic skeletonWhat with the Russian Deputy Prime minister telling gay Olympians that they’re welcome in Sochi—as long as they don’t touch any children while they’re there (seriously, that happened); reports of polluted water in Sochi hotel rooms; bizarre bathroom surveillance; and possibly unsafe sporting venues, the 2014 Sochi Olympics haven’t exactly been the feel-good, fuzzy-feeling event that the world was hoping for. So, if you’re like me, and are feeling a little grouchy about the games, I’ve got the one story will get you all turned around on the matter.

This Thursday and Friday, American athlete Noelle Pikus-Pace will be hurtling down the Olympic skeleton course in Sochi, face-first, at roughly 90 miles per hour. You heard me. Face-first. That’s pretty captivating stuff, but when you hear Noelle’s story, you’ll be ready to hand the woman a gold medal.

Back in 2010, already a world champion in skeleton, Noelle retired from her sport so she could spend more time with her husband and two small children. “It had been me saying goodbye, getting on an airplane, and taking off. There was no way we could afford to pay for everyone to travel with me, so I missed so many family milestones when I was training or on the road—I’d come home, and my daughter was already walking. I missed her first birthday. Something had to change.”

Roughly two years after calling it quits, Noelle and her family got big news: they were expecting another baby. “We were so excited to have a new little baby girl in our home. We started thinking about names and decorations, picking out cute little outfits and things. But when I was 18 weeks pregnant, that time when you think everything’s fine, I miscarried.”

“I just remember bawling and bawling. I had just gone in for an ultrasound. They’d told me the heart looked fine. The baby looked fine. I had nothing to worry about. But here I was, so utterly heartbroken,” she told me. “After my miscarriage, anytime I’d see a pregnant woman, up until my due date, I’d just think that’s supposed to be me right now. I was still counting down the weeks of pregnancy—which is strange, maybe, but I couldn’t help it. I just kept thinking about how I was supposed to be ‘this far along’ by now, or ‘I’m supposed to have a baby now.’ It was really, really difficult.”

Noelle’s husband, Janson, wanted to do anything he could to help Noelle through the grief and depression she was experiencing. For a while, they thought maybe getting pregnant again would help, that they could get back to where they’d been. But Janson had another idea in mind.

“He came to me one day and said, ‘What if you go back to skeleton?’”, she recalled. “I was like, no way. I’m done. Not unless the whole family can come. I’m not doing that again. I’m not being separated from you.”

Janson, willing to do just about anything to get his wife back on track, started crowd-sourcing donations so he and the kids could travel with Noelle during the upcoming competitive season. Before they knew it, Pampers and Babies “R” Us came onboard with sponsorships that have allowed Noelle to get back up to her crazy fast speeds without leaving her family behind.

Noelle’s six-year-old daughter, Lacee, still asks about the baby sister she’d been expecting, suggesting cute outfits she should wear when she arrives, but Noelle takes it all in stride. “Lacee’s not old enough to really understand what happened, but we’ve told her that her baby sister’s in heaven, and that she might come see us soon, or that she might wait to see us later. We definitely want more kids, so who knows, maybe she’ll get that baby sister, after all.”

In the meantime, the Pikus-Pace crew will be there (and we’ll all be watching!) as Noelle zooms past the finish line later this week—hopefully on her way to the podium and a well-earned medal.

TELL US: Have you ever experienced a miscarriage, or do you know someone who has? How did you work through the grief?

NEXT: Healing After a Miscarriage

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Pitch and Run: Making Lifelong Backyard Memories

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

White baseball on grassEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

For sports fans, October means more than beautiful fall colors and earnest trick-or-treaters. October is World Series time, and for our family, the end of each baseball season brings a special nostalgia.

When our kids were young, our yard was the field of dreams. Although now the grass is almost fully grown in where the base paths used to be, the kids once wore them so raw the diamond shape of the infield was the first thing people noticed when they visited. “Pitch and Run,” the kids used to call it, their backyard version of the great American pastime. The bases themselves were well-defined bald spots in the lawn where the base paths ended on each corner. The fences defined the foul balls and the home runs. A tennis ball, a soft-core bat, and mitts were all we needed.

The legends that grew from our backyard diamond live in all our memories to this day. There was the all-time world record number of consecutive home runs over our east fence. And the all-time world record number of home run balls that were hit all the way over Grape Street onto the neighbor’s lawn across the street. There was the ethereal tennis ball that was hit so high and so far that it was never found – until we opened the fireplace flue the next winter. There was Mr. W, the man who angrily got out of his car after a home run ball struck it while he was driving on Grape Street. (Turns out he was an old friend of my father’s, so he quickly forgave them.) And there was the tennis ball that was hit so hard it put a spiderweb crack in the shatterproof glass of the upstairs window. Then there was the mean neighbor to the south, the one who never said a word to us except when the screaming in our yard would crescendo, who came out in the middle of a game one day, terrifying the kids, and silently tossed three tennis balls back into the yard, only to leave as quietly as he had come.

This was an entirely egalitarian ball field. Our daughter and her friends joined the game whenever Barbie and Ken needed a rest. When the girls played, our boys hit left-handed – not so much to give the girls an edge (the boys would never give anyone an edge in baseball or any other competition), but because that gave them bragging rights to the all-time world record number of consecutive left-handed home runs over the east fence. Our daughter learned well. With her brothers watching many years later, she hit the game-winning single that clinched the intramural coed softball championship in college.

When the kids are home from college and grad school now, we still “have a catch” in the backyard. We reminisce about “Pitch and Run” and all the world records that will never be broken. At least until they someday bring their own kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard to wear out the grass again.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).


Image: A white used baseball on fresh green grass via Shutterstock.

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