From the Editor: March 2019

I’ve been thinking a lot about perseverance, a topic that comes up frequently when I speak to entrepreneurs. Angela Duckworth, in her bestselling book “Grit,” champions this ability to struggle through setbacks.

It also comes up frequently in parenting. “Don’t give up,” we tell our children. When they skin their knees falling off their bikes, we kiss away the tears and put them right back on.
But recently I experienced the flip-side of this philosophy.

During a rugby match, my college-aged daughter suffered a concussion that put her in the hospital for a week, followed by another week of in-patient rehab.
Luckily, she was able to bounce back quickly, and during her recovery, our family was showered with support from friends and family.

We were surprised by how many people who also asked, “You’re not going to let her play again, are you?”

First of all, I haven’t been able to tell my incredibly independent 20-year-old what to do since she was about 3 years old. Barring that, I was baffled at the suggestion that she give up playing a sport she loved because of an injury.

Part of me wonders if these conversations would have been different if she weren’t female, or if she were playing something safer — like soccer.

She played that game for years, from elementary to middle school, and I can attest that despite its popularity, soccer is a tough gig. Players — male and female — are elbowed, kicked, tripped and head-butted. According to a 2017 report, soccer has the highest rate of concussions among female athletes compared to any other sport.

I don’t want to downplay the risks, but just as we teach our children to ride bicycles, we should also encourage them to play team sports. Yes, it’s fun and they get some exercise, but they also learn valuable skills like communication, teamwork, strategic thinking and mental toughness.

It also gives our daughters an entry into male-dominated career paths. Although I wish it were different, being able to talk sports is like learning the secret handshake. One of my daughter’s teammates recently interviewed for an engineering internship, and the talk turned to rugby, which both the male interviewer and the female applicant played. After the interview, my daughter’s friend was confident that she had made a good impression, based largely on this personal connection.

I’m proud that my daughter isn’t afraid to get back in the game. I’m happy that she has found a constructive way to fight the stress of college life. I’m pleased that she has found friendship and support from some of the brightest, kindest and fiercest women around.

Will I tell my daughter not to play rugby? Absolutely not — but I will ask her to be careful.

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