Playing Like a Girl

Hey Sports Fans…
Q: Which rookie pitcher struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back, at 17 years old?
Q: Who swam the English Channel nearly two whole hours faster than the world record?
Q: Who is the only person to ever run 300 miles without sleeping?
A: They are all women. Jackie Mitchell, pitching in the minor leagues for the Chattanooga Lookouts, played against the Yankees in 1931 and struck out two of the greatest players in baseball history. In 1926, Gertrude Ederle swam so fast she demolished the times of all five men who crossed the English Channel before her. In 2005, Pam Reed became the only person to run 300 miles without stopping, ending in just under eighty hours.

We’ve all heard it on TV, in movies, from co-workers, friends and even ourselves. “You play ball like a girl. You throw like a girl. Women can’t play sports Women are too delicate. Women are weaker than men, physically inferior.” But anytime women have been given the chance to play on equal ground with men, they surpass any limitations imposed on them.

There’s nothing about women’s bodies that prevent them from playing the sports we all love. It’s a society dominated by men that tries to limit what women can do. Women are told they can’t play this as a kid, can’t join that, to stay away from baseball bats and football cleats. They get the Easy Bake ovens and baby dolls while the boys get the footballs and toy cars. But boys are encouraged to compete and play sports while girls are pushed away from them. One gets a headstart, the other gets a handicap.

Separating boys from girls in sports is seen as normal today, discouraging girls at an early age from playing sports at all. Then when we look around the sports world and barely see women anywhere, many of us think it must be because women just aren’t capable of playing like the men. It’s as if society stops a woman from playing a game with the men, then turns around and says “see women can’t play sports!”

But when women prove they can play, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they’re strong and fit and great athletes, they’re considered too masculine rather than admired for their strength and athleticism as any male athlete would. But their athletic ability is always less important than their physical appearance. Whether it’s the U.S. women’s volleyball team posing naked for ESPN, or racecar driver Danica Patrick in a bikini on the hood of a car in Sports Illustrated – nothing is more important than physical appearance as women are always portrayed as objects of sexual pleasure.

The male domination of the sports world is not the natural order of things but is an artificial creation by a society that restricts the athletic abilities of girls from birth. Why do we live in a society that imposes these limits on people? Who can say what the limits of human athletic ability are? All people should be encouraged to develop themselves with all the resources society has to offer. No society should put a cap on human potential.