Participation in sports has proven time and time again to benefit kids in a number of ways — from better health and academic performance to increased discipline and leadership capabilities.

But for many years boys were the only ones on the receiving the benefits of participating in sports— sporting opportunities were at best limited, at worst nonexistent for girls. This was changed for girls 44 years ago when Title IX came into effect and allowed girls to participate in sports, from the home basketball court to the championship game.

Since Title IX legislation passed as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, female participation in high school sports has increased by more than 990 percent, and college sports participation increased by 560 percent. Prior to the passage of Title IX, the closest thing most girls had to a sporting opportunity was cheerleading. Women who grew up with Title IX have significantly higher rates of high school sports participation: 55 percent in the post-Title IX generation, compared to 36 percent of the pre-Title IX generation.

Not only does playing sports give girls the opportunity to be healthy and active, it also teaches them the leadership, self-control and team-building skills necessary for life off the playing surface. From the home basketball court to the classroom, girls who participate in high school sports perform better than their peers, and they’re more likely to continue on to college.

Participation in sports is huge for children and adolescents. From the home basketball court to the university and back, sports have the capability to enrich every aspect of a youth’s life. No matter where you live, youth sports participation is equally as important for our daughters as it is for our sons.