This book functions as a kind of peek at the conversations Hillary and Chelsea have been having for decades about the women who mean something to them, from activists like Claudette Colvin to first lady Betty Ford to actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. And in between the stories of these compelling women, they shared their co-writing process and the pleasure of writing something so personal with a woman they respect and admire so much.
At one point, the conversation turned to Title IX and Chelsea shared a shocking statistic. She explained that in 1972, the year that Title IX first passed, only 700 girls played soccer in schools. Compare that to today, when 390,000 girls are playing soccer in programs that exist almost solely because of this mandate. I have to imagine that a shift that significant would have consequences in other areas, and it got me thinking about the role that competitive sports play in preparing us for work and careers.
A 2014 Cornell University study found that “past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs.” In a survey of current workers, high school athletes were believed to more likely be self-confident adults with good leadership abilities, in comparison to kids who played in the school band or worked on the yearbook. A 2013 survey from Ernst & Young found that 96% of women who work at the C-suite level played sports as kids. And additional research states that “one out of every two women who make $75,000 or more identifies themselves as an athlete.”
There’s also good reason to expect that student-athletes learn important lessons that translate to professional success, like working well with others, setting a goal and sticking with it even when things don’t go the way you’d hoped, and managing the demands of school and your sport. Basically all the things I tell my students to avoid writing about in their college essays. But they’re clichés for a reason – kids really do learn these lessons from playing sports.
And the best part is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re any good at your chosen sport – benchwarmers and team captains alike get the same benefits. So whether you’re motivated by the prospect of a better job down the line, or a structured way to be active and social, or you genuinely love participating in a particular sport, the way you get there is the same: go out and play.