Protecting our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women's Sports
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Amy Steadman was destined to become one of the great women’s soccer players of her generation. “The best of the best,” Parade magazine called her as she left high school and headed off to the University of North Carolina . Instead, by age 20, Amy had undergone five surgeries on her right knee. She had to give up the sport she loved. She walked with a stiff gait, like an elderly woman, and found it painful just to get out of bed in the morning.
More girls than ever before are playing sports, and the gains they have made are worth celebrating. Girls tested on the athletic fields are happier and fitter, confident and prepared to take on the world.
Warrior Girls exposes the downside of the women’s sports revolution, an injury epidemic that is willfully ignored because we worry that it will threaten our daughters’ hard-won opportunities on the field of play. From teenage girls playing local soccer, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball and other sports, up to the most elite women’s teams, female athletes are suffering serious injuries at alarming rates.
The numbers are frightening and irrefutable. Women tear their ACLs, the stabilizing ligament in the knee, at rates as high as eight times greater than men. Women’s collegiate soccer players suffer concussions at the same rate as college football players. From head to toe, female athletes suffer higher rates of a range of injuries, and many of them play through constant pain.
Michael Sokolove leads readers through the most up-to-date research on girls and sports injuries. He takes us into the homes and hearts of female athletes, into operating theaters where orthopedic surgeons reconstruct shredded knees, and on to the practice field of famed University of North Carolina soccer coach Anson Dorrance.
Exhaustively researched and strongly argued, Warrior Girls is an urgent wakeup call for parents and coaches. Sokolove connects the culture of youth sports – the demands for girls to specialize in a single sport by age 10 or younger, and to play it year-round – directly to the injury epidemic. He demonstrates how girls are both more vulnerable to injuries than boys -- and probably tougher. Devoted to the ideal of team, and deeply bonded with teammates, they don’t want to leave the field even when confronted with serious injury and chronic pain.
No one can play a sport and be guaranteed she will not be injured. But Warrior Girls shows how girls can train better and smarter to decrease their risks. It makes clear that parents must come together and demand changes so that the sports culture no longer manufactures injuries. Well-documented, opinionated and controversial, Warrior Girls shows that all girls can both safeguard themselves on the field and compete hard and well.
Simon & Schuster