Girls in Extreme Sports
Meet Nancy Coulter-Parker. She's been an avid outdoor athlete for more than 20 years. She's also the managing editor of WomenOutdoors.com. Nancy told us why so many female athletes are becoming attracted to -- and excelling in the world of extreme sports.
Question: Why are more women and girls becoming attracted to alternative sports?
They now have role models. Girls can look up to Lisa Anderson or Rachelle Ballard in surfing, or Shannon Dunn and Barrett Christy in snowboarding, and Alison Sydor or Alison Dunlap for mountain biking.
Female role models are appearing across the board in alternative sports and team sports such as soccer, hockey, and softball. More than ever before, young women have other women in the sports arena to look up to as role models. The media is also covering alternative sports more widely.
These sports, which were first referred to as extreme, are now referenced in the mainstream as "alternative," but they haven't always been widely covered.
Question: Are there some sports that appeal to women and girls more than others?
I think women are drawn to sports that have fluidity and that require balance and coordination, not just a lot of "balls to the wall" attitude. For instance, women are attracted to surfing and snowboarding. Climbing is another sport in which women tend to excel, whereas skateboarding has not seen much growth in female participation.
Now that some of these sports have become more mainstream and women are seeing what's out there, we're seeing increased participation pretty much across the board. Backpacking and hiking are very popular among women and we've also seen increased participation in mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing.
Question: If a young girl really falls in love with an alternative sport, what can her parents do to encourage her?
Help her find ways to participate and pursue her passion. Encourage her and partake in the sport with her if you can. If she loves snowboarding, then find out if there will be any snowboard competitions in the area in which some professional boarders are competing. This way, your daughter will have the opportunity to watch women who have also pursued their passion. Try to help her find role models in the community of the sport she is pursuing.
Question: Do alternative sports empower women and girls differently than traditional team sports?
Yes, they empower women with independence, individuality, and confidence. In alternative sports, the desire to improve must come from within, not because your team is pushing you. Yet, because these sports are so individual, any steps you do make or goals you reach can just be awesome for a young girl's confidence, because the rewards are all hers.
More on: Sports