SL Interview: Michael Sokolove Examines the Prevalence of Injuries in Girls’ Sports

A contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, journalist Michael Sokolove is the author of “Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw,” about the 1979 Crenshaw High School baseball team in Los Angeles, and “Hustle: The Myths, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose.”

Sokolove’s latest book, “Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports” (Simon & Schuster; Amazon) examines the culture of sports for young women. Sokolove applauds the fact that, since the passage of Title IX in 1972, the numbers of girls who participate in sports programs – at the high-school, club, and college levels – has increased dramatically. Writes Sokolove: “Athletic girls seem happier, more confident, more in control of their bodies and their destinies than girls who do not put themselves in motion, who do not compete, who do not experience all the highs and lows and disappointments and exultations than have long driven boys onto the field of play.”

His book, however, notes that there’s an “unforeseen and largely invisible consequence of the women’s sports revolution.” Writes Sokolove: “Girls suffer a whole range of injuries at greater rates than boys … The most serious problem, by far, is the routine incidence of major knee injuries in girls – mainly tears to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL … Girls tear their ACLs at rates as high as eight times that of boys.”

The book’s premise is not without its detractors. As Sokolove notes in the interview below, the Tucker Center Research for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, at the University of Minnesota, has drafted “a multidisciplinary response” to the book on its website. According to Nicole LaVoi, the associate director of the Tucker Center, “Framing the issue of sport injuries as an inevitable biological difference in the sex of the athlete is sensationalistic and irresponsible.”

SportsLetter spoke with Sokolove by phone from his home in Bethesda, Md.

— David Davis