Women and sports: From myth to reality

Women only watch sports to please their father/boyfriend/husband/friends. Or, alternatively, they watch to check out the hot guys in tight uniforms. They don’t understand what’s going on. What’s more, they don’t even care.

Sports are a guy thing.

I’ve heard all of these ridiculous notions again and again. In fact, after a while, you get so used to them that you become immune. They bounce off you and don’t even make a dent. They don’t apply to you, so you pay them no mind. And yet, they keep being voiced. And even if they’re not directed at you, they still hurt.

You know, before, when I was too young to know better, I used to be proud of the fact that I wasn’t like other girls. I used to cover myself in my sports knowledge, like that made me better, smarter. I was different. I could be accepted into the boys club.

But truth is I couldn’t. I never was. I was just a rarity, one they tolerated but never really appreciated. After all, I didn’t have the right genitals. I could never truly fit in.

Of course, that was before I understood that I didn’t have to fit in, and way before I realized I shouldn’t be judging other women for liking whatever the hell they liked.

I shouldn’t dictate what they enjoyed, just as men shouldn’t dictate what I loved.

Novel idea, I know. People are free to like what they like, and we should just let them enjoy that thing in peace.

Almost revolutionary.

But, that’s going on a tangent. And we’re not here for generalizations; we’re here to talk about me. This is an opinion piece, after all. And I’m a girl who likes sports. No, I’m a girl who loves sports. I’m the girl who read that New York Times piece about the new FOX show, “Pitch” where they wondered how the aforementioned would cater to the hard-core baseball fan expecting authenticity while still appealing to women and thought, huh …I didn’t know women and hard-core baseball fans were mutually exclusive things.

(Spoiler alert: They aren’t. The New York Times is just playing to stereotypes. Generalizing. Making sports something that begins and ends with a guy, be it out father, our boyfriend or a friend. Reducing those of us who enjoy the sport to a mere footnote.)

Understanding why a thing is written, however, doesn’t make it any less wrong. It doesn’t make it less damaging.

Sometimes it makes it worse.

I grew up watching sports. Most of my sports love comes from my dad, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less mine. He taught me how to love soccer when I was too young to count, how to keep score in baseball as soon as I mastered basic math and how NFL plays worked when he thought I was old enough for its complexities.

Tennis, however, I picked up from my sister, who talked about it ad nauseum – until I was forced to care so we could actually maintain a conversation. Gymnastics was ingrained in me in many lessons as a kid. Basketball was good to a teenager who was still decently sized and had good aim.

Point is, it doesn’t matter how you come to love sports, just like it doesn’t matter how you come to love anything in life. It only matters that you do. I’m no less of a baseball fan because my dad taught me and I’m no more of a tennis fan because it was my sister who introduced me to the sport.

The things we love have to do with us, and just us.  They’re not a reflection of other people.

Fact is some women like sports. Some men don’t. In this day and age the number of women who enjoy a wide variety of sporting events rivals that of the men who do. And, guess what? The number of men who could care less? Well, that’s also comparable to the women who would rather spend their time pursing other interests.

And that’s fine. That’s more than fine. To each its own. And by each I don’t mean each gender, no. I mean each person. We’re not defined by just our genitals.

We’re individuals. We can make our own choices.

And if my choice is to scream at the TV while a ball is kicked around/thrown around/hit around with the assistance of some sort of instrument, that’s on me. Just me. Not on my dad, my boyfriend, or my friends. Me.

Live and let live sounds like an unattainable goal sometimes. But hey, live and let live. Let me repeat that. Live and let live.

Oh, and New York Times, if you could manage to not come off as so blatantly sexist and uninformed while you do, we’d all really appreciate it.

Thank you.

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