Monday, January 28, 2008

Hitting our heads

I thought this article about the number of concussions female athletes are incurring might make me hit my head--against a wall in frustration. But it did a decent job acknowledging the cultural factors that may contribute to the seemingly larger numbers (the article presented only raw numbers not percentages per sport) of female high school athletes who report concussions. Of course part of the problem is the actual reporting. The study suggested that female athletes' concussions are reported more often because of cultural pressure on boys to just suck up injuries and get back into the game. Also part of the cultural explanation is that girls are seen as inherently more frail so when they incur injuries--like a head injury--they are more likely to be examined.
I did not like that the article stated that female athletes are more "prone" to concussions early on because it implies that they are physically weaker; that their bodies cannot handle hits and falls, etc. Reading on though we see that there are different explanations that include the fact that boys frequently start playing sports earlier and, generally, are encouraged to use their bodies in ways that girls are not so that when they start playing (at a later age) sports more seriously they haven't had the same opportunity to develop. These cultural constraints on the physical development of girls does not come until later in the article, though.
I was also a little disturbed by the statement that the rise in concussions in girls is due to more girls playing sports. It kind of has am anti-Title IX "careful what you ask for" tone to it. Of course as there are more participants the number of incidences of injury rise. This happens regardless of gender. And if it isn't happening in boys' sports you have to wonder why. Access to better equipment? Better trainers, doctors and other medical professionals?

No comments: