Being a girl in a boy’s world

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Being a girl in a boy’s world

Olivia S. '19

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Early on Sunday morning, a little girl in her princess pajamas runs downstairs and plops herself on her living room floor. She turns on the television to ESPN, just in time to see highlights of yesterday’s college football games. Her eyes are glued to the screen as she watches and analyzes ESPN reporters and athletes, promising herself one day she will be just like them. Little does she know the obstacles to come her way as she strives to be a girl working or playing in the sports world.

According to Women’s Sports Foundation, by age 14, girls drop out and lose interest in sports two times faster the rate of boys. Upon graduating high school, on average, male athletes receive 55 percent of NCAA scholarships, which leaves only 45 percent for females.

Lack of opportunities leads to less women playing collegiate and professional sports. As of 2011, only 43 percent of collegiate athletes were female, according to the NCAA.

Those who do make it to the professional level are hardly recognized at all, despite defying the odds. According to thinkprogress.org, “SportsCenter” dedicated a whopping two percent of its airtime to women’s sports in 2014. Arguments supporting “SportsCenter” claim women’s sports aren’t as popular as men’s so the airtime is justified. Well obviously women’s sports aren’t going to be as popular if they are never shown on the most important sports outlet. “SportsCenter” made sure of that.

These shameful statistics, which follow a girl throughout her life, make sense considering gender stereotypes surrounding girls today. We, as a society, teach our girls to be graceful, delicate and feminine. Not exactly skills needed on any sports field.

From the time they’re born, girls have Barbie dolls, bows and the color pink shoved in their face, keeping them from figuring out their real interests. They’re taught boys are the strong ones, the athletic ones, the aggressive ones. Boys are allowed to get dirty; girls are not. Boys are allowed to be rough; girls are not. Boys will be boys, but girls must be girly. They’re taught it’s always been this way. They’re also taught it will always be this way.

Not a single major sports organization helps gender stereotypes, either. According to Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated, a weekly magazine, featured a grand total of only 35 women athletes on their cover between 2000 and 2011. Yet every year, this same magazine has no problem plastering their issue with half-naked models in the annual swimsuit edition.

Type “Women ESPN reporters” into Google, and one of the first hits is a Men’s Fitness article entitled “40 Hottest Female Sports Reporters.” These women did not get a college education and a career in one of sport’s most prestigious businesses in order to be ranked according to their “hotness,” as Men’s Fitness so eloquently put it.

So here’s to the little girl, sitting in her living room religiously watching ESPN. Here’s to all girls who dared to break the mold and defy statistics. Here’s to girls who won’t let their dreams be defined by gender stereotypes. One can only hope Sports Illustrated, “SportsCenter,” Men’s Fitness and all others alike will lose their sexist ways so these girls can be appreciated for what they really are, athletes.