Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Don't Call Them Girls

TigerBlog has his share of pet peeves.

There are people who are unaware that there's a world around them, for one. You know, the ones who drive 45 in the left lane or stop their shopping cart right in the middle of the aisle so nobody can get around them or stand in the stairwell so nobody can get past.

Then there's the whole "over/under" thing, as in "he's been here for over 10 years." Over and under are spatial relationships. More than and less than. Those are the terms to use to talk about lengths of time and distances and such.

Oh, and people who use "whom" when they should be using "who," just to sound smart. TigerBlog isn't impressed. Want to impress him? Use nominative case when necessary and objective case when necessary. How hard is that?

Let's see, what else.

Oh yeah. He can't stand when people refer to female college athletes as "girls."

Nobody ever calls the men's teams "boys." Why call the women's teams "girls." They're women.

TigerBlog heard an interesting conversation on the radio yesterday morning. Beasley Reece, a former NFL player and longtime Philadelphia sportscaster, was on with the morning host, and he made he point that, with all due respect to the feminist movement, the single greatest advancement in the area of women's equality came through Title IX. And that the Civil Rights Movement was helped considerably by the integration of Major League Baseball and the full integration of the NFL.

Of course, the event that sparked the discussion was the win by the U.S. women's soccer team at the Women's World Cup Sunday. And, of course, Reece called them "girls."

But back to his point, it's an interesting perspective.

The basic idea is that athletics can make societal changes that other mediums cannot. There is truth to that. Lots of it.

Why? Because athletics are all about equality. The best play. The others have to try to work harder to be better than the best.

Does anyone care what color Carli Lloyd is? What her religion is? What her socio-economic background is?

Nope.

That, though, is in the context of women versus women. But what did the recently completed Women's World Cup say about women's athletics in the larger context of the total sports world, with men's sports included.

First, there will always be men who will never respect women's sports. They will talk down condescendingly about teams of "girls." It's just how it is.

For that matter, there will always be those who look down on soccer, calling it boring and all.

There's just no reasoning with them.

But what about the general sports fan, the open-minded one. The recently completed Women's World Cup drew record television audiences - the final was the most watched soccer game, men or women, ever in the United States - even with the event on Fox, not ESPN. The championship game was played at a sold-out 60,000-seat stadium.

Those numbers didn't come about solely with women's sports fans. There had to be some serious numbers of crossover fans. You know, men's fans.

If the men's World Cup is, along with the Olympics, the largest international sporting event, then where does the Women's World Cup fit in. Is it 50% of the men's? Less? Maybe 25%? Less? More?

Women's athletics do not enjoy the same depth of fan bases that men's sports do. It's just not how it is.

TigerBlog, though, can't help but wonder where women's athletics would be without Title IX. Would it still be what it was before the law passed more than 40 years ago, with women's athletics a complete afterthought to the men?

TigerBlog has talked to enough early Princeton women's athletes - pioneers, as he calls them - and heard enough stories of teams who were given little in the way of uniforms, practice times, quality facilities, athletic training and such to know that when Title IX became law, Princeton's women's athletes had basically nothing.

Today? It's completely different, 180 degrees so.

Princeton has 18 varsity women's teams. They are treated equally in almost every way with their male counterparts, in all of the areas TigerBlog described above and more so. Hey, in his world, TB knows that Princeton would never slight the accomplishments of its women's teams and athletes on goprincetontigers.com, for instance. It's not something that would ever remotely enter anyone's mind.

How different would it be in 2015 if there had been no Title IX? Would society have evolved on its own?

What would Princeton sports look like now without it? TB hopes it would be just like it is now. He can't imagine that he would buy into a world where women's athletes were treated like second class citizens, whether it was the law or not, but then again TB spent many winter nights in the newspaper business as the only one covering the women's game at women/men basketball doubleheaders at Rider and Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey).

One smart thing women's sports have done is gone away from the idea that they are competing with men's sports. Instead, they are standing on their own merit, with their own stars.

Look at Princeton's women's basketball team from this past year, for instance. That team wasn't compared to a men's team. Nobody said "oh, a men's team would beat crush that team."

No. People - men and women, boys and girls - came to Jadwin in record numbers and marveled at the skill and athleticism of the team on the court. That is something that would not have happened 25 years ago - even after Title IX was law.

So does that mean society's evolution has done more to help women's athletics than the law? Who knows?

TigerBlog does know that events like the recently completed Women's World Cup do nothing but help the advancement for all women's athletics.

The advancement to what? To being just another part of the mainstream sporting world.

And who knows. Maybe with more and more events like this, even the most ardent sexist sports fans will come around.

Wouldn't that be a great accomplishment for a bunch of girls, right?

1 comment:

Mary Anne said...

Great article! It's so true how some men will never learn to appreciate, and view women's sports teams with equal regard as they do for men, which is very sad.

Mary Anne A.
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