Recently, two studies have highlighted the benefits of team sports for girls. The first of conducted at Wharton School found that womens education and employment opportunities increased significantly since the enactment of Title IX in 1972. The second study from the University of Illinois found decreased obesity rates for women later in life for those active in sports early on.
In the Wharton study, Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the Wharton School, focused on state-by-state variations to explore the impact of Title IX. Most research on Title IX has looked at national trends in girls sports. She found that increasing girls sports participation explained approximately 20% of the increase in womens education and around 40% of the rise in employment for 25-to-34 year-old women.
Stevenson went further in saying, “Its not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life
While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe its true for boys as well.”
In the second study focusing on health, Robert Kaestner, an economics professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, compared rates of obesity and physical activity of women who had been in high school in the 1970s when Title IX was taking effect with similar women from earlier years.
Dr. Kaestner found that the increase in girls athletic participation caused by Title IX was associated with a 7% lower risk of obesity 20 to 25 years later, when women were in their late 30s and early 40s.
Dr. Kaestner explained that while a 7% decline in obesity is modest, no other public health program can claim similar success.
The study also noted that Title IX hasnt completely overcome gender bias around team sports.
About 1 in 3 high school girls play sports nationwide, compared with about half of all boys. Participation also varies widely by state, according to Dr. Stevensons research.