Remember playing in the park during the summer with your friends, boys and girls all coming together to play tag and hide-and-seek? As teenagers, we are now playing more competitive sports like basketball, football and soccer. Maybe you are realizing there is a bigger gender gap in these sports and that you rarely play with the opposite sex. Maybe you have wondered if you are just better than them at competitive sports, or maybe that the sport is too rough. As gender equality has become a popular idea in modern society, we should also apply this to sports. I believe that in order for men and women to feel equal, we need to hold women to the same athletic standards as men in sports.
It wasn’t until the year 1900 that women were allowed to play in the Olympics, according to Olympic.org. Ever since then, women have only played recreational sports, rather than competitive sports. According to the Sport Journal, “women were not active in intercollegiate sports until basketball was introduced at Smith College in 1892.”
Men and women should have felt comfortable playing together since the time sports began. Men and women should be able to play the same sport, and not be held at different standards when they play.
Drew Hendrickson, Director of Tennis Fitness and Summer Programs at Tenacity, added, “We still live in a world where boys are encouraged to play sports more than girls, boys are pushed harder.”
Hendrickson even states that it’s harder to find female legends. Boys were raised to look up to Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan and such, but girls are only now finally getting athletes like Serena Williams and Jackie Joyner-Kersee to look up to.
But it’s never too late. According to Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sports in Society, equality is closer than people think. He noticed that men and women actually train equally. But, even though men and women train the same and workout the same, depending on the sport, such as the hypermasculine sports of hockey and football, men are watched more than women.
Cheryl Cooky, a Perdue professor, stated in an interview in the Atlantic, “Men’s sports are going to seem more exciting, they have higher production values, higher quality coverage and higher-quality commentary.”
There is more money spent on men in sports as of now, and this makes women’s sports less entertaining. Rather than spending money separately, a combined league will make the game interesting and visually appealing for both men and women.
A benefit of having men and women play the same sport is that they can help challenge and humble each other.
Seventeen year old Stencia Bastien plays for the Cristo Rey Boston track team and she said, “guys are a lot faster than me so it makes me want to go faster.”
That’s the competition aspect. The humbling aspect is told by Keisa Ferreira, who is part of SquashBuster, and said, “women feel stronger and they have more confidence in playing against anybody, and men won’t feel overpowering. Once women reach their [males] level they won’t feel as cocky.”
The men will be humbled and the women will be more competitive, and this will even out the games and make them much more entertaining to watch.
I believe with a gender neutral league, sports will be much more entertaining, challenging, humbling and interesting for both men and women, and it will bring us closer to a gender neutral society.