As a big sports fan I often get in debates about different athletes and teams, specifically my Cavs and Lebron James. Sometimes my opinion is respected and listened to fairly- but only sometimes.
More often than not I hear things like “You don’t even know sports,” “You just like sports because you think Lebron is hot like other girls,” or “What guy taught you sports?”
You can imagine how angry it makes me when I have to defend my knowledge of sports because I am a girl. I find myself telling people that my dad taught me a fair amount to try and gain credibility, but I have had plenty of female influence in sports as well.
My mom has given me some of the best advice when I played soccer, basketball and lacrosse in high school. She also let me try any sport I wanted growing up so that anything I wanted to play was available.
My favorite, and often most demanding, coaches have been female. They knew how the games worked, the best strategies to win and the ins and outs of our opponent every week. But there was not one female coach for any male team in my high school.
Sports is a topic that has somehow escaped the movement to treat women equal, but why? Why are females not given the same respect as males?
Sports are presented as “guy” activities that girls are allowed to participate in. It’s like Title IX was passed and everyone said “Oh girls are going to try and do guy things! How cute! Let’s make them wear skirts and tight clothes so that we remember they’re girls!” But sports is not limited to anyone- not males, top athletes or even able-bodied people.
One argument I hear a lot is that it is just a “fact” that guys are better- I mean look at their muscle and bodies Chloe! They are just physically better!
Those who say this assume that the only way to be good at sports is to be the most athletic. Not only do girls tend to be more agile than boys, but sports are way more complex than who can bench press more. To win a game, or even be a decent player, an athlete has to know the sport like a second language.
For example, I can tell you the best ways to beat a zone defense in basketball or if a basket is going in before it has left the shooter’s hand. I know why every minute of soccer is exciting (It’s cause the play often starts with defense, so no matter where the ball is on the field any pass could start a run that leads to a goal) and where the sweet spot to land a tennis serve is on the court.
All I want is a fair shot. There is no reason more women aren’t coaches or sports journalists. The more we assume there is something about sports that makes it a “guy’s” thing, the more we undermine the knowledge and ability of women in that field.
It’s not a special news story when a football team has a girl on the team- it’s a fair opportunity. A girl isn’t “manly” for being stronger than average and she doesn’t have to try and fit into feminine standards. A girl writing an op-ed on sports isn’t trying to prove herself in a guys’ world or be an upset feminist, she’s just trying to get people to stop assuming girls don’t know sports. Give me an opportunity to have my opinion respected, just like anyone else.
Now, please go read Max’s article on the next page. It’s very good and he has a lot of good points. Meanwhile, I’m going to cheer on the Cavs as they play Indiana tonight at 7pm.