One recurring topic within sport that has never failed to piss me off is the way that women are viewed within the sporting industry. You would think that the prevalence of women holding important, senior jobs within sporting organizations would stop society from thinking that a woman’s opinion has no place in the sporting world but, apparently, no one cares. They care more about the old boys club that tells women to stick to their domesticated lifestyle and provide good half-time or between-period snacks. I love snacks as much as the next person but, I’m not willing to be the kind of woman whose job is to provide them.
It angers me that some men have nothing better to do than to completely discredit a woman’s opinion on a particular sport. It’s men like this that motivate me to work harder each day to achieve my goal of working in sports. However, it scares me that these could be the same type of men that I’ll be competing with, or even interviewing with, for jobs.
I haven’t played an organized sport since I was about 8 years old; my mom can correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not an athletic person but, for the past 10 or so years, I’ve been passionate about hockey. Since I was house bound for a week in December 2008, I have spent almost every evening/weekend watching hockey and thinking about what I’ve just watched – a playoff game ending in triple overtime off a flukey goal, a goalie completely stealing the show in an important game, a depth player dazzle the crowd with late-game heroics. Despite all of those reasons to love the game of hockey, my absolute favourite feeling is watching a player you’ve seen develop throughout his entire junior career finally make the NHL and look like he fits in; not like the rookie that teams’ depth players need to look after. But I’ve never played hockey and I’m a woman, what do I know?
Because of the glass ceiling placed above my head, I need to academically educate myself as much as humanly possible to even get a chance at getting some form of elite job in sports – and it won’t even be a guarantee. If I’m lucky and I work harder than the men in my field, I’ll get my dream job. If not, I’ll at least have a few more alphabet letters next to my name.
I can handle knowing that I’ll have to work really hard to achieve my goals. Why would I consider it to be a goal if it came easily to me? What I do have a problem with is the fact that my opinion on hockey gets discredited for my gender. What I have an even bigger issue with is that fact some men on social media resort to harassment and personal attacks to tell me that my opinion has no validity. It’s ironic because men will, rather than telling me that they don’t agree with my opinion based on X,Y,Z , will target my physical appearance. Last time I checked, my dress size doesn’t affect my mental process. Sure, my ego takes a bit of a hit but, it also tells me that what I said was right, and that person couldn’t accept that I know what I’m talking about because I’m a girl.
The absolute worst thing about social media *attacks* is that women are told to ignore it and just block the asshole. I try my best to not get involved in heated debates like that over social media but, sometimes it becomes too much. I’ve been taught to defend myself, so, to simply back down and take it is a really difficult thing for me to do. It’s sad that women are expected to deal with these types of human beings like it’s nothing. What’s even worse about this mentality is that women tell other women to ignore the comments. No. Why can’t women all support each other? If a person is being sexist, don’t just let them walk all over another person. Women need to support other women, people need to support other people.
I’ve been fortunate enough to actively pursue academic studies focusing almost exclusively in hockey. In almost all of the work I’ve read and analyzed, women in sports are normally ignored. Unless, of course, the article was written by a woman. Janet S. Fink, a recent Ziegler award winner dedicated her “victory” speech on sexism in sport, knowing it would be a controversial topic. In her speech, she discussed instances in which women were discriminated against in their workplace – or place of entertainment, for their gender, but she ensured not to discredit men. Gender based discrimination occurs against men as well, just typically not as much in the sports industry. Sexism against men in sport is typically shaped in metaphors – and predominantly to “not be a girl about it”, to quote Morgan Rielly. Rather than only listing examples in which sexism is prevalent agaist women in sport, she researched campaigns that are meant to eliminate sexism all together. The “Like A Girl” campaign, which was started during the 2014 SuperBowl, which is used to empower women in their gender – rather than make them feel inferior. To do anything #LikeAGirl should be celebrated, just as doing anything like a boy should be celebrated.
Campaigns like #LikeAGirl give me hope that, eventually, sexism in sport won’t be as prevalent as it is today. I have been fortunate enough to take part in opportunities in which I have been seen as equal to my male counterparts, just as I’m viewed at school. One #funfact that keeps me motivated each and every day is seeing the amount of female professors in my program, and how successful in sport each of them are. Though, there may not be many female students, sexism is not an issue that I’ve had to deal with thus far. Doing anything #LikeAGirl will help to create equality for all genders but, without mutual support, nothing will be accomplished. As it was so wisely pointed out to me by a close friend “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”.