I wasn’t really involved in sports until I turned ten. I was not the biggest fan of watching a game or practicing for long hours, because I considered it boring.
But the older I got, plus the more I started to pick up my involvement in sports, I slowly started to understand why people loved watching and taking part in them. The only aspect I never truly understood, and still do not, is the crime of being a woman athlete.
There always seemed to be a negative connotation that followed the title. The backhanded comments are some of the first things that come to mind. These comments and connotations only seemed to increase the older I got and the more involved I became in sports, and I was only barely scraping the surface of them.
Women athletes, at all levels, are treated differently than male athletes. They are constantly being judged for their actions, comments, presentation, and even just how they play their sport. There are so many incidents where women are treated differently, but usually the bad takes over the good.
The first thing that male athletes most often get away with is their actions or comments in a game. There are times when a male player gets angry in a game, or after, and make rude comments towards players, referees, supporters, and even reporters, and face no backlash or repercussions.
However, if a female athlete were to do something like this, it would be brought up for the next three years and that player would never hear the end of it. For example, Serena Williams lost the U.S. Open Tennis tournament in 2018, and proceeded to be upset over how she played and lost. She never criticized the referees or bashed her opponent, she was simply angry with herself and her playing ability, knowing she could do better.
A comic was then released after the final match with Williams angrily jumping on her broken racquet and the referee in the background telling the other player to “just let her win.” Just because she was upset with herself, the comic and article decided to criticize her and make her out to be a baby who cannot handle losing. They also said, as a woman athlete, she let her emotions get the best of her and didn’t “take the loss like a man.”
Comments and articles like this, stating she cannot handle the loss properly because she’s a woman and lets her emotions get the best of her, is frankly insane. I have seen men punch lockers and kick trash cans after games, and most people defend them by saying “they are just dedicated to the sport, they have the right to be upset.” This is not an acceptable response towards the situation, and shows how differently women are treated in athletics.
Another way female athletes are treated differently than male athletes is the fact that people are afraid to accept that women athletes can be amazing in their own way. A lot of people refuse to believe that and immediately follow with the argument, “well the men’s team can beat them, so why does it matter?”
Ultimately, that is demeaning to women who play these sports because people refuse to see the potential that these women have. Even if you do not find the women’s side of a sport as entertaining, why is the first response to bring them down? This does not happen in men’s sports.
Men do face judgement and criticism for their playing ability, but they almost never get put down because of their gender. They also never seem to be compared to women’s sports as often as women get compared to the men. Why can only one gender of a sport thrive and be great at a game? Why can’t they both excel? The G.O.A.T. argument is a huge example of this topic and proves that a lot of the media and society look to only have male sports thrive.
Lastly, another way that both women and men are treated differently in sports is how the media reacts. One currently popular argument is Alex Morgan “sipping the tea” after she scored her goal during the World Cup game against England in 2019. Now, if a male soccer player was to perform this move, they would have been made out to be a God and receive endless praise.
Another example of this is Megan Rapinoe’s power stance during the World Cup. She was called unprofessional and was told to stay in her lane, and never do that celebration again. She proceeded to take this as a challenge and has repeatedly done it since then, but a male counter-part, Cristiano Ronaldo, performed the same stance and faced nothing but praise from the press and fans of the sport.
Ultimately, the media sets women’s sports up for failure. They push more negative press about women’s sports and look for the negatives to publish articles about. If the roles were reversed, the men would be praised for the exact same things that these women are doing.
Do not get me wrong though, we have certainly come a long way as a society to the acceptance of women in sports, but I still believe we have an even farther way to go. The people who still refuse to believe that women’s sports provide quality entertainment are the ones halting this process for everyone else.
Look into the future of sports because this is the only warning that will be provided. The future is women and I promise you, they are hunting to be heard.