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Gender In Sports Essay, Research Paper

December 4, 1996

GENDER IN SPORTS

In high schools and junior high schools across the country the importance of interscholastic sports competitions is strongly demonstrated to the students. They see the rewards and accolades given to the accomplished athletes, not only at these levels, but at the collegiate and professional levels as well. While most of these teams are formed and exist for both men and women, it is interesting how different each team tends to be treated. At High school football games, for example, the students and faculty show up in record numbers to prove their loyalty to the team and to the school itself. This football team is always comprised of men who use the sport to demonstrate their masculinity through the smashing and bashing of each other?s skulls. Occasionally, one may find a select number of women who had to fight their way onto the team only to sit on the sidelines and watch. It is quite probable that such girls are only able to get onto the teams on the basis that most schools simply do not have a football team dedicated solely to the women football athletes. This lack of recognition for female athletes only becomes more frequent as one progresses through the levels of competition in virtually any sport. The games of women?s teams, where they do exist, tend to draw only limited crowds at most levels of competition, scholastic or otherwise. In the realm of athletic activities, the American society has chosen not to offer the same opportunities to its women as it traditionally has to its men.

For centuries, it seems, it has generally been accepted that sports and other activities relying upon physical performance have been left for the men to participate in and enjoy. The women were generally left with the “traditional” duties of managing the household for their amusement. Just as many things have come to be drastically altered over the course of the last century or so, so has this old fashioned idea. Women have shown an interest of their own when it comes to sports. They have demonstrated that they, too, want to be able to prove their physical ability and talent through competition in a variety of athletic activities. While most of these activities are adapted versions of the same sports that were originally played by the men, women have shown that they can play them just as hard and as dirty against each other as the men have been doing for as long as one can recall. They have shown that they can be conditioned and up to the physical challenge that most sports demand, despite their being female and traditionally seen as “delicate creatures” by society. With few exceptions, women have proven that they really are no different than men when it comes to their abilities to participate in activities that used to be reserved for the masculine and the “strong” as opposed to the feminine and the “weak.”

Only recently have activities, such as football, begun to present themselves as attractive sports for young girls wishing to participate in something athletic. Previously, the participation of the “weaker sex” in such a “harsh game” has been discouraged for a variety of reasons. Some site the “frailty” of women as the exclusion factor, relying on the assumption that all members of the female sex possess this inhibiting characteristic This idea can be proven wrong by any young girl who has had to grow up surrounded either by a group of rowdy, older brothers or has lived in a neighborhood consisting primarily of male companions. In this environment, especially, she has been forced to identify with those around her by taking part in the same activities and play as roughly as any one of the guys do with each other. She has demonstrated that she does not let her sex dictate who she is or who she wants to be. It is in part for this reason , perhaps, that girls have started to come out of their traditional roles as demure females and desire to step onto the playing fields with those with whom they may have grown up. Where teams do not exist specifically for women in some sports, some have taken it upon themselves to try and play with the guys. These girls tend to find opposition to this type of change within their schools and communities. Why should society tell her that she may not participate because it is not a sport designed for her? Since all women do not possess this assumed quality of innate frailty any more than all men possess the ability to fix cars and belch, they should not be treated as if they do.

Since professional sports teams were first developed years ago, women have not received their share of recognition for athletic ability by the establishment of leagues and teams within which they may play professionally. What makes a man playing a sport more interesting to watch than a woman playing the same game? Perhaps it is due to the fact that women?s sports aren?t as popular at the high school and collegiate levels as the men?s sports tend to be. For this reason, the owners and developers of professional sports leagues may not feel that there is a need for these types of leagues. At the same time, a sort of circular idea emerges in that it could also be the case that these sports are not as popular at the high school level simply because teams do not exist at a professional level for female athletes to use as a goal or role model. For example, many spectators watch the football, baseball, and basketball games eagerly in high school because they know that the possibility exists that the strongest athletes may be talented enough to go on to compete at the higher levels. On the other hand, most women do not have this opportunity to go on to achieve such glorious recognition, so why should the spectators be as interested in their playing of a mere game in any sport?

Growing up in the American society, young girls and women are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts in the ways of athletic competition and sports in general. From the time children begin to walk and run, our culture has led us to point the little boys in the direction of various athletic activities, while sending the little girls off to play “school” and “house.” This has, over time, been enlarged to be the general idea where sports are concerned. At the scholastic levels of competition, high school and college alike, while teams have been created for women, the best resources and ideas are usually reserved for the players on the men?s teams. They are the primary reason that the new stadium is erected or the new facilities have been designed to accommodate. These institutions only contribute to the sense of inequality among the sexes in their blatant separation and mismatched treatment of the sports teams of men an women. The crowds often flock to the men?s games, while only the diehard fans come to watch the women?s teams hard at work. All of this is only enhanced by the lack of any professional sports leagues in which women may participate and form careers. The idea that women cannot handle the world of sports is ridiculous because general assumptions of that magnitude cannot be accurately made by anyone. Women are as capable of playing athletics in the respected arena as any man is and it is time that action be taken to observe the truth of this statement.


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