Many sports parents and coaches argue against coed teams as the athletes get older, citing concerns that the girls are more likely to get hurt when going up against bigger, stronger, and faster boys. Once hormones kick in young boys and girls develop very differently. A 11-year-old girl might actually be bigger and stronger than her male teammates since girls tend to get their growth sprout sooner, but a 16-year-old boy is probably a lot bigger than any girl on his team. But until puberty, girls can easily keep up with the boys in terms of skill, provided they have had similar coaching/training.
It’s no secret that most high-powered positions in the corporate world are filled by men. In fact, women currently hold only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. On a coed sports team, especially if there are few girls, a female athlete learns how to stand up for herself and excel in a male-dominated environment, something that will come very in handy later in life. Danielle Friedman of The Daily Beast writes that according to one study, 82% of businesswomen played sports after elementary school. She points out that playing a sport “provides participants with a peer group, and a feeling of inclusion. And perhaps most importantly, it helps cultivate resilience.”
Boys tend to respect determination, grit, and dedication and most young male athletes are willing to accept a female teammate that proves she can keep up. A female quarterback in Florida not only has the respect of her high school team, but the boys are quick to defend her when opponents start teasing.
“They were kind of making comments about how they heard we had a girl quarterback,” said wide receiver Hordly Seide, who has a scholarship offer from Memphis. “We were just like, ‘Yeah, she’s standing right here.’
It’s not unreasonable to say that boys’ sports teams tend to get more money, more attention, better coaching staff, more support from the community and so forth. It may not be right, may not be fair, but it’s not unheard of. In fact, a talented female athlete might actually need to play with the boys if she wants to challenge her own skills. WNBA star Katie Smith has talked about always playing with boys when she was young. She recognized early on that boys provided her with the best competition to improve her already formidable skills. For her, and for many other top female athletes, the only way they could play at their skill level was to play with the boys!
More than a few studies how shown that female athletes tend to focus on the “we” of the team, while boys are more “me” oriented. The best athletes really need a strong measure of both in order to succeed!
“Boys always seem to focus more on the goal, scoring a goal or getting points,” grad school teacher and sports coach Mike Manipole says. “For the girls, they know that’s the goal but they grasp some details a little better and will make an extra pass to get to the goal.” Being a coed team works both ways. Female athletes learn how to be more assertive and dominant on the field, why male athletes can learn that it’s easier to win with a team than it is when you’re trying to do everything by yourself!
Still others will argue that a male athlete might not play his hardest when going up against a girl, out of fear he may hurt her. If that’s the case than no one benefits. Or a coed team might divide itself between boys and girls anyway, so why bother? And yes, biological differences do play a factor. It’s hard for a 140 pound girl to contend with a 240 pound guy on the football field just in sheer mass, but that doesn’t mean a 140 pound girl couldn’t compete on a baseball field where size is less of a determining factor for success.