By Minda Monteagudo
Why do Latina youth participate in sports less than other girls? How does their Hispanic culture impact decisions to play (or not)? What can we do to change that?
As part of a senior high school project, over the last few weeks I conducted detailed, structured interviews with 30 Latina youth about the role of sports in their lives. Although many said their families watched and played sports, athletics were mostly viewed as a diversion – not serious pursuits. Some girls said their families preferred they be at home or at a job – doing “practical” tasks – instead of playing sports.
“I feel that a big part of the reason a lot of Hispanic girls don’t do sports is because of their families,” said one 14-year-old from Boston’s South End. “They might not be encouraged in their homes. I don’t think it [sports participation] is valued in Hispanic culture for girls, it’s not seen as important. It’s not ‘normal’ for girls, so why would they do it?”
This negative family view – along with the lack of female Hispanic athletes in the media (not one of the 30 could name a Latina athlete) – made these girls feel that sports weren’t for them.