Sports, or any kind of physical activity, are undoubtedly good for children’s health and development at any age. Children in sports are able to develop their confidence, cardiovascular health, and their collaborative and competitive social skills. The positive impacts of sports participation continue into adulthood, too; as youths who play sports are eight times as likely to be active at age 24 as adolescents who never played sports.

Though the benefits of sports are largely uncontested, precisely how children and teens engage in sports is more controversial. Specifically, the debate over whether or not children should play with kids of the same sex, or kids of different sexes, remains unresolved.

4 Reasons Co-Ed Sports are Great for Kids

Though parents likely know what is best for their own children, there are many benefits to coeducational sports participation that sometimes go overlooked.

Here are just a few good reasons why the traditional separation of boys’ and girls’ sports teams might not be as necessary as once thought:

  1. Less Predictable Competition
    One big benefit of having kids of all genders on the same team is that males and females can test their strength against different kinds of opponents. Before puberty, the physical differences between girls and boys are less pronounced, so worries about mismatched abilities and related safety concerns are largely unfounded. However, even after puberty, there are ways to make co-ed teams still fair. As long as both sides have an equal number of guys and gals, the physical aspects of the competition will remain balanced, and kids of any gender will face more diverse opponents, which builds skill.
  2. Teamwork Between Genders
    By encouraging youths of all ages to play sports with different genders, kids can learn to better work and collaborate with those who are different from them. Coed teams encourage co-ed friendship networks, and help prepare children and teens for the coed work environments they’ll encounter as adults.
  3. Bashing Stereotypes
    Another exciting positive outcome of coeducational sports is that it gives young women a chance to demonstrate their strength and skill against male opponents. Including boys and girls on the same team will help demonstrate that anyone, regardless of their gender, can be a talented athlete. Young girls might even have the chance to demonstrate their competitive side without fears of being “too aggressive.”
  4. Practicality
    Sometimes, it can be hard to come up with enough kids to form a team, or it can be hard to pool enough money to start a league without both all genders participating. Coeducational athletics might allow more kids to become athletes in the first place.

Before anyone dismisses co-ed sports as “unfair” or “unsafe,” taking a look at the benefits of mixed-gender teams might prove that the good outweighs the bad. By learning to collaborate and compete across gender lines, kids in co-ed sports can gain important life skills, and most importantly, have fun.