Play like a Girl


Grant Herbek

LHS athletes wouldn’t be the same without its female athletes. These female spring sport athletes are a few of many strong, passionate, motivated and ambitious athletes here at LHS in Maggie Evers’ eyes.

For the past 14 years, almost every one of my Saturdays has been spent in either a uniform or in the stands. I started playing sports when I was younger as a way to keep up with my older brother, but athletics soon became my passion, sparking my constant motivation to get better.

After recently watching the well-known Nike campaign of “Dream Crazier” — which challenges stereotypes and provides a platform to showcase strong female athletes — I realized that what the video highlights rings true for the atmosphere that has been created around girls playing sports. The video states: “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts … and if we get angry, we’re hysterical or irrational or just being crazy.” It’s these views that have the potential to hold females back from striving for greatness.

The questions people ask you — even at a young age — of why you would rather join the guys playing basketball at recess instead of sitting in a circle and talking. The side-looks a girl receives when she enters the weight room. The pressure to still look good even while you are sweating and grinding during practice.

Along with this, it has become the common belief that males are the overall better athletes compared to females due to their physical build. To say that guys are stronger than girls is mostly a true statement, as the American Physiological Society says that “male skeletal muscles are generally faster and have higher maximum power output than female muscles,” but to explicitly state that females are lesser of athletes compared to men is unreasonable. Athletes are athletes. The ones dedicated to their craft put in the same amount of hours and have the same end goal in mind: to be the best at their sport.

I have lost count of the times that someone has said, “Girls’ sports aren’t as hard.” It was just a few weeks ago when I sat in class while a guy discussed how he views softball “to be easy” and “no comparison to the level of baseball.” Not only is it unfair to compare sports’ unique skill levels and challenges to each other when they are drastically different, but it also amplifies the inferior feelings that girls embrace about their own hard work. It’s time that we as a society move towards accepting the idea that girls train just as hard as guys to reach success.

Not only should we acknowledge girls playing sports, but we should also encourage it as research shows multiple benefits for female athletes. According to ESPN, “a news report that surveyed more than 10,000 girls across the country has found a positive correlation between playing sports and increased confidence, body image, academic performance and personal relationships.”

I can personally attest to this as my identity has been molded by playing sports. My confidence, relationships, mental toughness, adaptiveness, social skills, the list goes on of what sports have taught me besides how to do a reverse lay-up and field a backhand ground ball. I have been able to overcome the insecurities projected on me after realizing that sports are my passion and bring me happiness.

Females deserve just as much respect, credit and opportunities within the sports world as men, whether that means playing, coaching or supporting. The headlines scream of women making history by becoming the first female referee in the NFL or first female on an NBA coaching staff, but it’s time that these instances don’t need breaking news stories and instead become the new norm.

The gender gap doesn’t seem to exist just on the playing field, though, as the same is true about jobs held in the sports world. According to the 2018 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card, “90 percent of the sports editors … [and] 88.5 percent of the reporters … were men.”

Sports are not just a man’s game. Women can have intelligent insight and provide creative viewpoints on sports, but many aren’t given the chance to showcase their knowledge. As a female hoping to go into the sports journalism field, I will admit it is intimidating, but it’s also a two-way street. As females, we must recognize the ample amount of work that is required to be successful yet also not be content and strive for the positions we desire. We can by no means expect to be handed anything, but we also need to be given chances and not overlooked for positions solely based on our gender.

For all the guys reading this, please hold us female athletes to the same standards you would a fellow male teammate. Take a step to change the current stigma that girls’ athletic success is of lesser value by acknowledging our efforts and dedication, which are just like yours. For all the girls, whether you are an athlete or not, take a stance to demand the credit you deserve for all your hard work. No matter what you set out to accomplish, do it like a girl. Strong. Passionate. Motivated. Ambitious.