Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down


I know this may be hard to believe, but not every athlete, media personnel, writer, you name it, in the sports world is a man. I know, WILD right? Because all we ever hear about is, he, him, his.

You’ll be SHOCKED to know that the definition of an athlete doesn’t mention gender at all.

CRAZY, I know.

It is common knowledge that the sports world was once dominated by men. Everyone knows it. It baffles me that it is still used as an excuse for why women are STILL treated unfairly.

And yes, it has “gotten better” from what it used to be like, but again, why is that a reason for why this is still an issue. Of course, you have people who think there is no issue at all. Who think equality is just never going to happen and women should just accept their place. No, these are not just the opinions of old grumpy men who can’t let go of the past. These comments are made by our peers, by young people who should know better. Instead of using their own brain to realize the incredible ignorance their comments are displaying, they hide behind the way society treats women in sports.

Society says, we want women to dunk in basketball.

Women say, why?

Society says, well um because the men do and its flashy.

Women say, well some of us do dunk. But not every game and team in the NBA is focused on dunking. Dunking is worth the same amount of points as a layup, it is not that special. So, why can’t you appreciate our craft and the skills we have mastered, the true game of basketball?

Society says, uh well dunking is cool and is apparently an extremely important part of basketball and we apparently are unable to watch basketball unless there are dunks.

Seriously? If you need to see big flashy dunks in order to watch a game of basketball, I feel incredibly sorry for your basketball IQ. People who truly love and appreciate basketball love to see well-crafted plays, technique, sound fundamentals, great teamwork, and fluid team chemistry.

It is sad that under almost every post made by ESPN, SportsCenter, or BleacherReport about women in sports is followed by a barrage of comments about “getting back to the kitchen,” “make me a sandwich,” or something about women having no sports knowledge.

Oregon Duck’s guard Sabrina Ionescu, who holds the Division I record for both men and women for most triple doubles in a season, captioned one of her Instagram posts during the season with, “Comment section doesn’t phase me. They’re talking about cooking?! Well I’ve been serving triple doubles lately.”

Imagine it’s 2019 and insulting women with where they “should be in society” is still a thing.

It’s sickening. But I’m not surprised.

We are not taught to see athletes as athletes. Instead we are taught to separate into two categories, seeing men as the more dominant and skilled version compared to women.

We do not read about how spectacular Serena Williams is, we do not drool over her glory like we do for male athletes. Instead, she is merely lumped together with other impeccable female athletes when it’s time to discuss unfair treatment. Successful women are spoken about only as trailblazers. Look what they’re doing for women in sports. Which, I am not saying isn’t valuable, but they are much more than that. So, why don’t we talk about it?

For starters, society doesn’t like women to be portrayed as assertive, dominant, and fierce. As mentioned in Nike’s “Crazy” campaign narrated by Serena Williams, “if we show emotion, we’re called dramatic.” Williams even experienced this herself when in September of 2018 she received two additional code violations related to her frustrated behavior that she states her male counterparts are worse in doing. She’s right. When male athletes can curse, show frustration and become loud it is all “just part of the game” but if a female athlete were to do the same, she would be seen as “too aggressive,”“needs to calm down,” or “manly.”

Even recently when Nike made another campaign featuring Caster Semenya, an Olympic gold medalist in track and field, after she was banned from competing against her OWN GENDER unless she TOOK A DRUG to reduce her testosterone level … people where more focused on the sound of her voice rather than the fact that she was being punished for the way she was born.

When is enough, enough?

It is sad to think that people don’t believe that the way women are treated in sports is a serious problem. No one wants to talk about it, because those who find no issue don’t want to admit their immature behavior. There cannot be a problem if you don’t acknowledge it, right?

It is frightening to be a female that wants to enter into the sports world to pursue a career. Instead of working on how to mentally prepare myself for those who will not agree with my opinions, I have to think about how I will handle the misogynistic comments, and the quick generalizations that because of my gender I know nothing about sports. When will we as a society reach the point where this mindset will become a thing of the past, instead of being passed down to each generation?

I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. When I was six and spat on by an older gentleman, in a restaurant for wearing a Yankees cap. When I was in middle school and repeatedly insulted for choosing the UCONN men to win the National Championship, and brushed aside when they did. All of the ridicule I faced growing up, manifested into this tendency to become easily triggered. Though, wouldn’t you get frustrated if you were constantly doubted because of your gender? Constantly having to listen to your gender being disrespected in a world meant for both men and women? Having to constantly listen to everything women need to do differently in order to please men?

I encourage those who choose not to watch women’s sports to take a look next time you see a professional women’s basketball game, or soccer, or anything on TV.

Why be on the wrong side of history? It took America 144 years, since it was established, to grant women the right to vote. Title IX, a federal law that helped bring awareness to the discrepancies between men and women in athletics, is approaching its 50th anniversary… let’s not take another 100 years to give women the respect we deserve.

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Hannah is a Graduate Student, and Graduate Assistant in Athletics here at NEC, working towards her Masters in Sport & Recreation Management. She is a member of NEC's class of 2020 where she earned a BA in Communications, as well as Sport & Recreation Management. She was a member of the women's basketball team, the Sports Editor & Co-Editor-in-Chief of the NewEnglander, a Peer Leader, Student Ambassador, and President of the Class of 2020 during her undergrad. Her hopes are to land a job in the sports industry, either in front office management or as a journalist, after receiving her Masters.
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