More girls are playing sports than ever before—which, on the surface, is great for girls because sports offer positive and empowering fun for young women. In reality, though, few young athletes report “fun” as a reason they play sports. The rates of concussions and repetitive use injuries are on the rise, and kids are encouraged to specialize in a single sport at earlier and earlier ages, spending much of their free time throughout the year dedicated to the pursuit of a single sport at the expense of friends, other activities, and sometimes, health.
Alarmed by the stories he heard from young athletes in his classes, sports scholar Rick Eckstein set out to investigate youth sports—why young people are playing them, how they have changed over time, and their impact on kids and families. Through three years of extensive research, including surveys, interviews, and more, Eckstein discovered that college athletics are having an alarming impact on youth sports, particularly for girls.
How College Athletics Are Hurting Girls’ Sports looks closely at college sports and how they shape the athletic—and personal—landscape for girls and young women. Filled with powerful interview excerpts from women athletes of all ages, as well as coaches, league officials, and others, the book chronicles how college and youth sports have become more commercialized, to the detriment of participants. The book looks at a range of sports, with case studies including soccer, field hockey, ice hockey, figure skating, and Ultimate Frisbee. The author celebrates sports’ potential to have a positive impact on a girl’s life, but he recommends changes in how college and youth athletics are structured to improve the experience of young athletes and to give them their childhood back.
Rick Eckstein is professor of sociology at Villanova University and the author of Public Dollars, Private Stadiums and Nuclear Power and Social Power. His research on sports is cited widely in media such as the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many others. He has received awards for both his teaching and his writing. He was a volunteer youth sports coach for over fifteen years.