I thought this story in the NYT magazine was v. interesting particularly for its obv. implications for gender equality. Apparently in the wake of Title IX, girl and young women athletes are getting hurt far more often than male athletes.
Michael Sokolove writes:
Girls and boys diverge in their physical abilities as they enter puberty and move through adolescence. Higher levels of testosterone allow boys to add muscle and, even without much effort on their part, get stronger. In turn, they become less flexible. Girls, as their estrogen levels increase, tend to add fat rather than muscle. They must train rigorously to get significantly stronger. The influence of estrogen makes girls’ ligaments lax, and they outperform boys in tests of overall body flexibility — a performance advantage in many sports, but also an injury risk when not accompanied by sufficient muscle to keep joints in stable, safe positions. Girls tend to run differently than boys — in a less-flexed, more-upright posture — which may put them at greater risk when changing directions and landing from jumps. Because of their wider hips, they are more likely to be knock-kneed — yet another suspected risk factor.
This divergence between the sexes occurs just at the moment when we increasingly ask more of young athletes, especially if they show talent: play longer, play harder, play faster, play for higher stakes. And we ask this of boys and girls equally — unmindful of physical differences.
The article says girl athletes are more likely than boys to suffer from chronic knee pain, shinsplints, stress fractures, ankle sprains, hip and back pain, concussions, and most significantly, A.C.L. ruptures. In sports that both sexes play, like soccer basketball and volleyball, it appears that girls suffer torn A.C.L.’s at rates a whopping five times than boys. It’s a devastating injury that never really fully heals.