Despite my cocky son teasing me about not being as strong as him because I’m a woman–yes, that’s right my 8-year-old believes he’s the Hulk–I’ve got some news that might rock his ego.
According to researchers at Indiana University who analyzed data from 1.9 million swim meets, there was no gender difference in the performance of six to eight-year-old athletes, and a minimal difference between the 11 and 12-year-old boys and girls.
It was only until the kids reached puberty (ages 13-16) did muscle “acceleration” and growth allow the boys to move ahead of the girl athletes.
“Due to differences in developmental pace it seems to be true that at least in some sports there are periods of time during which girls and boys might be athletic equals,” lead author Joel Stager, a professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Indiana University at Bloomington told ABC News (via the Huffington Post).
Also interesting, the study showed that girls typically succeeded boys in the ability to strategize, practice with strong concentration and show team spirit.
Do I think my son will care what a study says? No. I think the only way to understand that girls are his counterpart in athletic abilities is simple maturity. He’s young. He’s competitive. He likes to egg on his mother. Boys at this age also play with a bit of an impulsive abandon. (Read: they’re wild.)
I’m sure even the best girl athletes in his grade stray from that kind of play, just as I did as a young athlete. Of course, there are a handful of girls who aren’t weary of 2nd grade rough-housing.
“But those girls are different,” he’ll say.
Yet this study shows that they’re not different. They’re exactly the same.
(Image: by Ben McLeod)