If one were to watch sports growing up, it may be easy to assume that sports are inherently male.
The most accessible of the sports we watched growing were, of course, male sports. The most covered of sports growing were of the male variety. And if one were to envision an image of the stereotypical sports media personality, that person would almost certainly be a middle-aged dude – likely a white man.
Unlearning this hegemonic construct that sports are inherently male and that a woman’s place is merely on the sidelines in some eye-catching cheerleader’s outfit is not always easy to do. But it is definitely necessary to do if one is to become a better and more well-rounded sports fan.
It takes a lot – because of all of the images we are bombarded with that predominantly show men in the sports realm. These can be men either in the area of play, in the front office/athletic department or holding the microphones and cameras.
Billie Jean King, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Serena and Venus Williams and Lisa Leslie are among the great historical women’s sports figures that have broken down barriers over the years and have reminded us that women have a place in sports too.
Who says that a woman cannot run?
Who says that a woman cannot leap?
Who says that a woman cannot dunk?
Who says that a woman cannot mash?
Who says that a woman cannot tackle?
Who says that a woman cannot kick?
Women can do all of these things – and then some. And has time has shown us, women can do plenty of these things better than a lot of men can.
It continues to make us laugh when incels claim that a top-tier high school or college team would wax the floor with the defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks or the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces. We all know it would be the other way around. A team full of male amateurs against established pros or pros-to-be? Yeah – exactly.
But women’s place in sports cannot only be limited to simply the fields and courts of play. Women have a place in the front office as well.
Keia Clarke – the CEO of the New York Liberty – is the textbook definition of a Black woman sports trailblazer on the business side. It has been said once and has to be said again – every single living human being on this planet came from a woman. So – women belong everywhere decisions are being made.
And we are not just talking about big sports decision as well. We mean big decisions in other areas of business as well – and in politics and world affairs.
Not to mention, women are breaking down barriers and are reminding us that who we see and listen to that break down the games and tell these stories should not be an exclusively male space also.
All one has to do is look at WNBA media to see who many of the trailblazers are in that space. Ari Chambers, Khristina Williams, LaChina Robinson, Cindy Brunson, Monica McNutt, Alexa Phillipou, Greydy Diaz, Terrika Foster-Brasby, Taylor Rooks, Chiney Ogwumike and Ros Gold-Onwude just to name a few.
It has to be said – sports are unquestionably a better medium the more women there are occupying the space. More diversity in sports – and in larger society – is always a good thing and women certainly provide that.
Women do not only provide that diversity, they provide insight. They provide style. They provide charisma. They provide swagger. More importantly – they provide themselves.
Women – particularly Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, Muslim and LGBTQIA+ women plus white allies – provide their backgrounds and experiences. There used to be a period of time where women felt they had to follow a specific template because they were stepping to (what is still, unfortunately, a male-dominant space today) what was back then a male-exclusive space.
Women are no longer following this template. They are comfortable being themselves in their own bodies without any care as to who may hate on them for being themselves.
To close – to the women out there working hard, being themselves and continuing to shatter glass ceilings – here is your bouquet of flowers for making sports – and the world – a better place.
You go, girl!