Posted April 23, 2007
For centuries, women have been battling for equality with men. Whether they are struggling for equal rights, voting privileges, equal job opportunities or even athletics, women have had to fight for the respect that they deserve since the beginning of time. The battle of equality in male and female athletics has been a problem for years; male sports have been accused of receiving better recognition in the sports they play, having more playing opportunities, receiving higher salaries, and attracting extra media coverage.
Men are usually recognized more in certain sports than females. When a female says that she is a star athlete, most people assume she is a cheerleader, gymnast, ice skater, or field hockey player. If a male were to say the same thing, then they are thought to be a basketball player, baseball player, football or soccer player. Why is it that society judges the ability of an athlete by their gender? Can’t a woman be just as good of a player as a man? It is a shock when a girl goes to a basketball court or soccer field and asks if she can play with the boys. Many men don’t believe that a girl can meet their standards of playing.
Men have also been stereotyped as being in better physical shape than women. At my high school, all of the boys’ teams had to be in the weight room at least three days a week during their playing season. The football players even have a year-long weight-lifting program that ran throughout the summer. You see, the girls didn’t experience any of this. Why don’t the girls’ teams have these requirements? Our society doesn’t expect girls to be as physically fit or as muscular as a male athlete. Many times a girl will be called “butch” or “manly” or even a “lesbian” if she is extremely muscular and in good shape. Also, steroids are more commonly used among the male athletes. I recently met a football player who told me that his father would push him as hard as possible to become the best player that he could be. His father made him perform agility drills and lift every day. Even though he always worked his hardest, his father never thought he was good enough, and he eventually resorted to steroids. I can honestly say that I don’t know a single female athlete who has taken steroids to thrive in her sport. Hard work and dedication is all that is needed to pursue in the sport female athletes are working at, but men often have extra pressure to be the biggest and strongest out on the field.
Even with Title IX playing a role in athletics, men still obtain more playing opportunities than women. According to information on the website that I recently looked at, “Title IX was introduced in 1972 to provide equal opportunities for men and women in collegiate sports. It forced all colleges to offer the same number of sports to males & females.”
However, men still have far more playing opportunities than women. At my high school, the girls’ basketball coach was also the school’s football coach. If the coach put half the effort into coaching the basketball team as he did for his football players, they could have been state champions. He didn’t have the same enthusiasm coaching the girls’ team as he did the boys’ team. It was almost as though he didn’t have enough confidence in the team because they were only a bunch of girls. The boys’ coach was much more passionate in coaching his players and even provided a summer program that ran three days a week. Because the girls’ coach didn’t offer this program, the dedicated girls had to play with the boys.
Media support and fan loyalty is also much more common in male sports. Rarely do you see commercials for the WNBA or see the games being aired on ESPN. The NBA has a number of advertising commercials and player coverage. At my high school, almost all the boys’ sports teams had a booster club, but none of the girls’ teams did. Looking at the attendance of the games, the boys’ games are always more full than the girls’ games. Even if the boys’ team has a losing record, the students will still choose to go see a boys’ game over a girls’ game. Many times a female athlete receives media coverage because of her father. For example, Laila Ali is an amazing boxer, but receives extra attention since her father was such a famous boxer. As hard as women work to succeed in the sports they play, the media of today still focus on the male athletes a great deal more than the female athlete.
Over the past thirty years, the United States has come a long way in trying to make sports equal between men and women, but women still don’t receive all the benefits that men have. Hopefully, within the next ten years, sports will achieve full equality of the genders. With any luck, female coaches and athletes will be receiving equal pay, and receive the respect that they need and deserve when playing the sports they love.