One simple question. A question that is asked across the nation, particularly in intercollegiate athletics, varying from basketball to soccer to volleyball and beyond. The response is often accompanied with an awkwardness and perhaps a sly remark about the inferiority of the sport - conveying the ridiculous idea that female athletes are not worth the same time, money, and dedication as male athletes.
Now, I get it. Not everyone is interested in women's basketball or women's soccer, etc., but there is a difference between not being interested in the sport and perpetuating the idea that women are not "up to the challenge". I'll grant you the fact that you won't see many alley-oops or reverse slams at a women's basketball game. I might go as far as to as to say there is a difference in intensity between the two, but I'm hesitant to even give you that.
When it comes to competition, they are exactly the same. Male or female, these athletes are programmed to compete. The game is still the same - have more points than the other team when the clock runs out. The craft and skill needed to perform at a high level still requires practice and patience. As with any sport, God given talent exists at all levels and the commitment to improve separates the superstars from the wannabes.
Explain to me where the difference between the two exist? Can you honestly sit there and tell me, as a fan of the sport, that the men's competition is superior to the women's competition? As a fan of exciting offense and tenacious defense, you cannot bring yourself to attend a women's game because of some sort of "taboo" on women's sports? What is this imaginary stigma that belittles women in athletics? It needs to stop.
The basis for sport is to achieve greatness through competition. It is about working together as a team or growing as an individual (depending on the sport, of course). It is about learning how to overcome a hard loss and discover ways to improve as individuals and teammates. The athletes see each other as equals, as competitors. What is keeping the rest of society from doing the same? Specifically in intercollegiate athletics, the mascot is the same, so why isn't the fan support the same? Both teams are fighting for a UNIVERSITY CHAMPIONSHIP. Shouldn't they BOTH receive an outpouring of excitement and support from the fans of the university?
As #InternationalWomensDay comes to a close, I leave you all with this:
It is time to stop labeling something because it's the way it's always been done. Don't be afraid of attending one game over the other based on the gender of the athletes. Don't feel judged if you purchase tickets to a women's sporting event. Take a step forward and purchase the ticket, attend the game, and move society closer to equality.
Stop belittling women in athletics. They play just as hard as anyone else. It's time we all start cheering just as hard for them.