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Survey: Sports for Girls Delays Sex

May 14, 1998

DALLAS (AP) _ A new study concludes girls who play high school sports delay becoming sexually active and are less likely to get pregnant than those who don’t.

``The Women’s Sports Foundation Report: Sport and Teen Pregnancy″ is the first systematic study of data to support the connection, Paula Hunt, spokeswoman for the New York-based foundation, told The Dallas Morning News for today’s editions.

The study found that girls who played sports are:

_ Less than half as likely to get pregnant as girls who didn’t.

_ More likely to begin sex later in adolescence.

_ More likely to have fewer partners.

_ More likely to use contraceptives.

The private, nonprofit foundation promotes the participation of women and girls in sports, distributes money and lobbies for women’s sports issues.

The findings were based on a national study of youth risk behavior among 11,000 students in grades 9 through 12 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report also relied on a study of 699 families from western New York by the New York State Research Institute on Addiction.

While the study focused mainly on girls, it found no consistent differences in sexual behavior between male athletes and nonathletes.

Some Dallas-area coaches, parents and athletes told The News that the findings are no surprise. They said they long have noticed a link between sports and diminished sexual behavior.

``I’ve seen it time and time again, not just with my daughter but with girls you’d think would end up a little on the wild side,″ Pat Godfrey of Duncanville told The Dallas Morning News.

She’s the mother of Dana Godfrey, senior forward for the perennial powerhouse Duncanville High School girls basketball team.

``Because they’re committed to sports and expected to be in practice, and they don’t want to let anyone down, they put everything else on the back burner,″ Ms. Godfrey said.

``They feel special. They have a purpose in life. ... It sure makes a parent’s job easier,″ she said.

Robyn Anders, 18, of Grapevine, is a senior guard for the girls basketball team at Southlake Carroll High.

``I spend a lot of my time playing sports, and I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that,″ she said.

``Most of my friends are in athletics,″ she said, ``and I know for a fact that being pregnant is not in any of these athletes’ lives. You just wouldn’t want that to be part of your life because you’re having too much fun doing sports.″

Some coaches say that the girls develop confidence that they carry off the playing fields. They also say that sports takes such a large chunk of time and energy, little time is left for trouble.

``We put such demands on our bodies. We know that if we don’t take care of them, we can’t hold up under the demands,″ said Lucy Haug, girls’ basketball coach at Plano East High.

``I think it gives young women _ all young athletes really _ an excuse not to drink or do drugs. Besides, when we’re in basketball season, the girls have time for little else than school and basketball.″

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