For centuries, women have fought for their rightful place in society. From domestic labor to the workforce, the world functions because of women and their achievements. The stereotype of women has long been misconceived to fit society’s standards of what a female should be. Women were subjected to stereotypical myths that prohibited them from competing in any type of sports such as damaging their reproductive organs. By the early nineteenth and into the twentieth century, unofficial sports teams, such as croquet and sailing, had begun to come into existence among women in athletics. The first women’s Olympics was held in Paris only two years after women gained the right to vote.
Even with recreational sports developed for women, they still face scrutiny in numerous forms. Ms. McConnell, the U.S. History teacher and girl’s basketball coach at Saint John’s, detailed her own experience as a student-athlete. She struggled with her own mental health, on and off the court, and expresses how being labeled “emotional” can be a detrimental stereotype for girls. With fourteen years of experience, as a coach, under her belt, she feels strongly that women are held to different standards than their male counterparts. She uses her own experience as an athlete as a way to advocate for her students.
Another Saint John’s teacher, Ms. Graff, gave her account of being a woman in sports as well. She is the head volleyball coach, Geometry, and Algebra 2 teacher. Her perspective changed, greatly, when she became a volleyball coach, sharing how she understands the game in much greater depth. Recounting when she was a student-athlete, she expresses how challenging balancing all of her interests was for her. As a volleyball player, dancer, and being in the marching band, she was busy for most of her high school career. She accounts the times she was not considered an effective coach by judges, referees, and even parents based on the stereotype that she is “weak” or “sensitive” from simply being a woman. Coach Courtney, the other volleyball coach at SJCP, and Ms. Graff research mental health related to female athletes to better understand thier players and the game. “Volleyball,” she explains, “takes a great deal of physical prowess, but it also demands incredible attention to detail and the ability to read and react in a split second. It is a game of errors.” For the betterment of her team, she encourages her players to take care of their emotions by putting more focus on errors and correcting them. Since the volleyball team has recently won the 2021 championship, you might think this strategy is working well.
Being a woman in sports is still a struggle today. Although sports are more inclusive than ever, national leagues such as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team still fight for their right to equal pay. On average, men make 15%-100% more money than women in sports such as basketball, golf, soccer, baseball, and tennis. Women are still expected to portray an image that is not equated to how motivated and strong they are. Not only do females make up 40% of overall participation in sports, but they only get 4% of news coverage. As Ms. McConnel said, “We have come a long way but we have a long way to go in our fight for true equality.”