And We Wonder Why Some Girls Aren’t Physically Active?

This morning a colleague sent me this article from about another ban on head scarves for Muslim female athletes. When I see this and other  stories, it makes me recommit to the work I do at The Tucker Center.

It its well documented that females are less physically active than their male peers at all ages, and that girls of color are less physically active than their White counterparts. There are two great reports that summarize the plethora of research on girls, physical activity and health and developmental outcomes–The Tucker Center Research Report: Developing Physically Active Girls (2007), and The Women’s Sport Foundation’s Her Life Depends On It (2009).

Some of the work I do with my graduate student Chelsey Thul, examines the barriers to physical activity of East African girls here in the Twin Cities. We have the largest East African diaspora in the US, and the East African girls in our community find in very challenging to be as physically active as they’d like to be.  They talk about wanting to be physically active but also desire to remain true to religious and cultural norms. If you want to see a great film that documents the challenges Iranian Muslim women face who desire to compete in an international soccer match with a German team, be sure to watch Football Under Cover.

The story illustrates exactly how challenging it can be for Muslim girls and women to be physically active. When are leagues and sport organizations going to enact inclusive policies that encourage and facilitate physical activity and sport participation for EVERYONE?

One Reply to “And We Wonder Why Some Girls Aren’t Physically Active?”

  1. I forcefully agree with your main argument, but I just read on additional thing that made me tick…

    The first sentence of the second paragraph is
    – out of topic
    – biased
    – depicting categories of population as victims

    When something is depicted as self-evident (or well documented, or accepted as certain, etc…), it is usually for lack of ability to deliver proof. There are only two exceptions to this:
    – “Cogito, ergo sum” – Rene Descartes, founder of rationalism
    – “We hold these truths to be self-evident” – US declaration of Independence

    Other instances of self-evidence without logical proof behind them invariably hide judgemental statements… most of the time implying serious political statements. And don’t get me started on guns in the US…
    I’d just say: beware those statements, they undermine credibility with discerning people.

    Nonetheless, I do agree with your main point of conflict between sports and the tchador (muslim veil)…

    Best regards,


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