The Summer Olympics are over, and it’s time to salute the big winners: the United States women.
The U.S. team won the most medals of all countries at the 2012 Games. And female athletes played a big role in that achievement. Let’s look at the numbers.
The U.S. women won 29 of the team’s 46 gold medals. They also won 58 of the United States’ 104 total medals.
And what would the Games in London have been without swimmer Missy Franklin, sprinter Allyson Felix, the women’s gymnastics, soccer, basketball, volleyball and water polo teams, beach volleyballers Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. The list goes on and on.
Of course, it will probably be four more years before anyone focuses this much on women’s sports. After the Olympics, sports fans will go back to watching men’s professional baseball, football, basketball and soccer.
That’s too bad; people should watch women’s sports, too. But maybe it’s not so terrible that many girls spend more time doing something other than playing or watching sports.
Let’s look at some other numbers. According to the Boys Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping boys become successful men, fewer boys graduate from high school than girls. Boys are also more likely to be suspended or expelled from school.
A recent American Council on Education study indicated that for about the past 10 years 57 percent of the college graduates in the United States have been women. And now women get more graduate degrees — that’s from schools after college — than men do. So it looks like women are winning medals in the classroom, too.
There are lots of reasons why boys do not do as well in school as girls. It’s not a simple issue. But maybe one reason is that too many boys spend too much time watching and playing sports. And way too much time dreaming about getting a college athletic scholarship or becoming the next LeBron James, Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter.
That’s because we make such a big deal out of sports — especially boys’ sports. There are magazines and Web sites that rate athletes who are sophomores in high school. Or younger.
Most kids will never make a living throwing or catching a ball. Playing sports should be a fun way to get exercise, make friends and test your skills. It is more important for most kids to do well in school. The numbers show that girls are better at finding a smart balance between their sports and school.