Discover more from The Physical Movement: Play. Lead. Be Strong.
Edition #220: Inspiration Is All Around. High Visibility Sporting Events Will Spark Increased Physical Activity.
The increased profile of women's sporting events will increase interest in young women getting more activity.
The last few years represent a time unlike any other. Change is happening in all categories of life. We hear about the worst every day on the news.
Are we noticing change for the better?
One area of change for the better is the profile of women’s sport. The WNBA led the way, starting in 1996 (now 27 years old) in women’s professional basketball. More recently we have seen professional leagues in North America for soccer and ice hockey.
And just this past week, 92,000 people attended a women’s volleyball game in Nebraska. More on that in a minute.
First, let’s dig up some facts.
· Young people aged 10-24 represent 24% of the world’s population
· While adolescence is generally considered a healthy period, many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that manifest later are in part the result of modifiable risk behaviors established during this time, such as smoking, unhealthy diet patterns, and low levels of physical activity.
· While a decrease in adolescent disease burden has been observed in many countries over the last 25 years, almost one in five (324 million [18%]) adolescents globally now have overweight or obesity and there is an increasing burden of adolescent mental health disorders (including depression and anxiety).
· Globally, 80% of adolescents are insufficiently active, and many engage in ≥2hrs of daily recreational screen time.
· Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide
· Physical activity appears to have low priority in adolescent health. It is crucial and timely to refocus the global prevention agenda in adolescence to include physical activity.
If you look at the influence of high-profile sport on participation, we don’t need to look any further than soccer in North America with the growth of MLS. The growth of basketball in Canada over last 30 years with the presence of NBA in our country. Both Soccer and basketball have moved into top 5 participation sports in the country.
The data is there.
Will the growth of women’s sport profile, then can we conclude it will impact women’s sport participation in a positive way?
Let’s look at Volleyball Day in Nebraska. That’s right, this past week, 92,000 attended a university women’s volleyball game in an outdoor stadium to set multiple records. It was a planned, calculated day to promote not only the sport in a volleyball hotbed but also women’s athletics.
A recent article in La Presse in Quebec, highlights the need for this to inspire those at the local post-secondary level to make similar impacts in our communities.
“Awareness campaigns aren't moving the needle. How about trying something different? By highlighting the successes of their classmates, with whom they can identify more easily than with international stars?
It would cost next to nothing. Essentially, passion and persuasion. College administrations are better organized than in 1995. They have distribution lists. They have multiple distribution platforms. They can also easily reach alumni, by e-mail or on social networks.
Student associations can also push the envelope. Their leaders are extremely adept at mobilizing their members. Imagine if one eighth of the energy deployed to fill the Ministry, the Dagobert or the Bar du Chat Noir for the mid-term party were devoted to packing the gym for ONE of their fellow students' basketball games.
Better yet, challenge each other to a game of basketball. Who, from College Garneau or College Sainte-Foy, will best support their women's soccer team? Who, between Chicoutimi and Jonquière, will attract the best volleyball crowd? And for flag football: Maisonneuve or Ahuntsic?
It's a rivalry.
In fact, it was a rivalry that sparked Wednesday's volleyball match. The University of Wisconsin Badgers had just broken the Nebraska Cornhuskers' record for the largest crowd at an NCAA women's volleyball match (16,833). Hence the Cornhuskers' plan to shatter the Badgers' new mark - which they did with panache.
Let's come back here. Organizing a big event around a local game would have only advantages.
First, for the students. It would reinforce their sense of belonging to the college. My fondest memories of high school? The great gatherings that were for the boys' handball tournament and the girls' basketball tournament, which all the graduating students attended at lunchtime.
Secondly, for the management. It's one more tool in their toolbox for recruiting future students. A video of spectators going wild during a volleyball match makes a big impact when choosing between two schools. Not to mention the fact that 1,000, 2,000 or 5,000 spectators in a stadium for two hours are bound to eat and drink. A table, two volunteers, drinks and bags of chips can do wonders for a flag football team's budget.
But above all, it would be a great pat on the back for these young people who have been playing their sport on the sidelines for 5, 10, 15 years. For an amateur athlete, there's nothing more exhilarating than playing in front of a big crowd. Take 30 seconds to watch the video below.” Translated from Alexandre Pratt, La Presse, September 1, 2023.
One would add the additional benefit of inspiring young women to be more active. Cue up the impact in Canada of the women’s national team on youth girls soccer.
Calling all coaches, parents, administrators and volunteers : find inspiration and bring it to your community.
Head on swivel.
The inspiration is there. Connecting with your young person has never been more important, neither has the need for all to be more active.