Updated: May 19
Fill in the blank.
Serena Williams is __________
Alex Morgan is ___________
Sue Bird is ___________
Many sports fans will know these names off the top of their heads. These game changing athletes are some of the best in their sport and have a host of titles, records, and accolades. Many refer to the names mentioned above as amazing female athletes. They might also refer to Serena Williams as manly, but a great tennis player. Alex Morgan is beautiful, but a good striker. Sue Bird is gay, but a great basketball player. Better yet, you may not know who one of these athletes are at all despite them being the best in their sport.
Fill in the blank.
LeBron James is ___________
Lionel Messi is _________
Tom Brady is __________
When we refer to LeBron James, Lionel Messi, or Tom Brady, we simply refer to them as the best. There is no caveat, no asterisk, and no “but…”
The way we talk about, prioritize, and support men’s and women’s sports communicates a very clear message to the next generation.
We’re telling our children that how you look is more important than how you play. We’re telling them that to be a female athlete is not as cool as being a male athlete. We’re telling children that what they stand for isn’t as important as how they play. We’re telling them that playing like a girl is a bad thing.
Over the last week, America has fallen in love with the US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNST). Their resilient play on the field and bold actions off the field have put a target on their backs. Yet despite the challenges, this team has climbed to the limelight not only because their skill is unbeatable, but also because of their relatable stories and the causes they courageously champion.
The USWNST is a great example of what it should mean to play like a girl. To play with tenacity, grit, swagger, and to play with heart are amazing attributes that anyone should seek to include in their game. Our young boys and young girls need to look up to athletes from a variety of backgrounds. Let your soccer playing son look up to both Megan Rapinoe and Cristiano Ronaldo and your basketball star daughter to RJ Barrett and Sue Bird.
Tell your children with your words and your actions, to play like a girl.
This is part one of a two part series in which we will unpack the affect of women on modern sports. Our hope is to be a resource for parents, coaches, teachers, and fans alike, bringing attention to tough questions and topics surrounding sports. Inevitably, we will fall short of doing all topics justice or fall short in your expectation for us. If you have something constructive to contribute to the conversation surrounding these posts, we’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You Play Like a Girl (Part 1 of 2)
Part 2 comes out on July 27