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Sports of Sorts

“Women are not that interested in sports,” said a female friend of mine. Obviously she’s not, nor was she ever, an athlete. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Except, on some small scale, there is. Why didn’t anyone ever introduce her sports? She’s 40, about the same age as Title IX. In the past four decades the number of girls playing sports has skyrocketed from 295,000 to over 3.2 million. There may not have been as many soccer moms back then, but there were certainly girls playing sports. I should know, I was one of them.


Me and Larry Bird

Little League at age seven, basketball at nine. Countless hours spent hitting balls with my dad in the backyard and him rebounding baskets for me in the driveway. And all that work paid off. Not because I was voted Jewish Athlete of New England (that’s six states, but who’s bragging?) or because I was recruited to play two different Division I college sports, but because since then I’ve learned to look at every challenge with an “I can do this” attitude. Do you need to have been an athlete to have this confidence? No. Did it help? You betcha. It was self-confidence that made living in a 90 square foot apartment manageable when many said I was nuts. And it was that same confidence that helped me self-publish a book and sell almost 25,000 copies.

Tonight’s Women’s Final Four championship game is showcasing two undefeated basketball teams – the University of Connecticut and Notre Dame. Despite what my friend thinks, the stadium holds 20,000 seats and they’ve been sold out since last year. Then there’s the TV coverage. Are women really not that interested in sports? Yes, it’s true there is much more media coverage for men’s teams, but I wonder if increased coverage of the women’s teams would encourage more women to watch and even play.

This past Saturday I observed a father pitching balls to his young daughter in Riverside Park. When the girl hit a line drive, she rested the bat on her shoulder, her pigtails swaying, and a beautiful grin appeared on her face as she said, “I did it dad!” I was a huge fan of Barbie Dolls at that age too, but Barbie never brought up that feeling in me.

All those years playing ball didn’t get me the starting point guard job for the New York Liberty, but it was those endless hours shooting last-second buzzer-beaters that instilled in me the “can-do” attitude and confidence to succeed at almost every other challenge I’ve faced. Sports or no sports, you can’t argue with that.

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