Don’t play like a guy — play like a girl

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clairesheadshotClaire Fahy
Sports Editor

“Find your inner guy.”

That’s what my guy friend told me as we were playing one-on-one basketball on the hoop outside my house. It wasn’t meant to be insulting, and it wasn’t. It was what he said — and a lot of fans would say — I needed to do.

“You throw like a girl.”
“Man up.”
“Boys are stronger than girls.”

Sadly, every girl’s athletic experience is marked by sexist comments that hurt her confidence in her athletic abilities and often her desire to pursue sports.

It seems that in order to be a good athlete girls must shed their femininity and assume a new persona. In order to excel, they must become less like themselves and more like the boys.

Title IX was passed in 1972, allowing all girls participate in sports in proportion to boys. While no doubt a major victory in gender equality in the athletic field, girls are still battling to be seen as equals on the court, field, pitch — every sports arena.

We all fall victim to sexism in sports. An avid sports fan, I force my younger brother to watch WNBA games with me, ignoring, yet secretly agreeing, with his complaints that the games are not as interesting as men’s.

In our culture it isn’t always easy to respect female athletes, but for me, it is especially challenging to respect those who act like men. Tattooed women throwing punches and yelling at each other in basketball games, overly muscular women that become the subject of highly publicized gender tests — it seems that a woman must lose herself to succeed in sports.

My faith in female athletics was salvaged, however, with the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup run last summer. Not only did the women on the field hold themselves with dignity and respect, they embraced their feminine sides. Pink accents, tailored uniforms, and a confident playing style succeeded in them looking like they were playing their own sport, not acting as female impostors.

Women still have a long way to go in athletics. Despite the success of the women’s team this past summer, women’s soccer in the United States is not a priority — with games being played on ESPN sub-channels at off-prime times.

Aspiring young female athletes may become discouraged, but the solution is not to “find your inner guy.” Success doesn’t have to be measured by money, fans, or fame. With hard work and perseverance, these might one day be blind to gender.

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