In this “Age of Women,” as some call it, we see more female athletes and leaders taking a stand. This culture is beginning to change. More girls than ever are being introduced into new sports every day. In fact, according to the official Olympic website, the number of female competitors are nearing 50%. However, these statistics are still lax. In our high schools today there’s still a 1.3 million gap in athletic opportunities between young men and women.
I am a tennis player, and, unlike many sports, tennis is Co-ed during practice. I’ve always been used to playing with guys winning, losing, arguing, and trash talking; it’s a part of the culture. However, I’ve always been astonished by guys’ ability to take a sport, they may have never played in their life, and be relatively decent at it. I’ve seen guys shorter than me (I’m 5’7’’) spike volleyballs as if they have been doing it for years who were hockey players. I’ve also seen great female athletes who can pitch a softball at a collegiate level as a freshman in high school but are never able to translate that athleticism. I believe that this is an issue that has been long-standing.
Athletics, despite its intense praise by the media and by gym classes across the country, is never truly embraced by every American child who is obligated to be in that class. From personal experience, these children tend to be women. I recall in elementary school, it was never the girls who picked up a soccer ball for recess. The culture isn’t bred into our girls as it is our boys. It is never encouraged for a girl to try and play with the boys, who, at that young elementary age, is usually no bigger nor faster than any girl. It is obvious that the benefits of youth sports and activity are nearly endless, however, we do not treat our children equally so they are able to reap those benefits.
What is WOMAN UP?
To start my journey, I’ve enrolled in a gym class that is predominantly male. Girls have always been able to join the class, but as I was trying to sign up my counselor was seriously apprehensive. There were only a few brave souls to do the class alone, as the single female. The class is an advanced sports class. The culture was always aggressive and super competitive. Every two weeks we are to start a new sport. In other gym classes offered at my school, the environment was lazy and lacked any real play/ As a tennis player, who has no sport related skill beyond a tennis court, I’m using myself as the guinea pig for the experiment. I want to see what possible ideas I could uncover from being the only girl in an all-male environment.
It obvious that women will never have the same physical capabilities of men and I don’t expect myself to match their athleticism. However, men will never have the same capabilities as women. The idea behind my experiment is to find what interesting capabilities we women may possess and see how we can adapt to enhance our own strengths as athletes.
Now, it is obvious that physical capabilities can only be pushed so far. However, I believe as an athlete myself, there are other outlets. My plan is not only to analyze the psychology of the boys in the class along with my own experiences as the only girl, but also the culture of the class. I believe that I can find ideas, philosophies, or even small tips on how to enhance a woman’s connection with athletics. Furthermore, I will be researching and interviewing both male and female athletes and analyzing their experiences to create a more diverse background for this study.