By FGN contributors
- Ignoring athletic development of girls. What’s wrong: Sports is the language of power and self-efficacy (a particularly urgent matter in places where females face violence and lack equal rights). Failure to encourage girls – whether in Texas or Bangladesh or on the preschool play lot – to learn the skills and rules join physical play puts them at a social, economic, and political disadvantage. What to do: Lace up (sneakers on little girls) and speak up for women’s access to athletics everywhere.
- The financial devaluation of females in sport. What’s wrong: Whether it’s LPGA purses, coach salaries, promotional budgets, or college ticket prices, paying less just because it’s women (guys, I’m sick of the supply-and-demand arguments; it IS more loaded than that) is fundamentally wrong and detrimental to women. What to do: Women, open your wallets and get in the game; supporting talented female athletes is a political act!
- Single-sex sports – especially in grade school. What’s wrong: Sorting athletes, particularly as children, by gender before skill or competitive level sends a message to little girls that somehow they shouldn’t – or can’t – play with the boys and enforces gender stereotypes, even outside of sports. What to do: Support co-ed athletic opportunities at all levels; if sports has the power to build international relations, why not gender relations?
- “Lady”-name-the mascot. What’s wrong: Until we’re ready to put the label “gentlemen” before college mascots (say the Tennessee Gentlemen Volunteers, the Gentlemen Blue Devils?) modifying only the women’s team nicknames creates, enforces, and publicizes a second class status. What to do: Call both teams by the same mascot name and bet most fans will know the difference.
- The pink-if-fication of sport equipment and wear – for females. What’s wrong: Nothing against the sprightly color pink, but the marketing belief that color-coding athletic goods in pink makes them “safe” and “appealing” to females is an affront to our sportiness (do we do this for boys?) and marks the vast non-pink sports universe as male. What to do: Push past the pink; spend your green on the real stuff.
- Hot pants for playing. What’s wrong: Uniforms that are more about sex appeal than athletic zeal (and free movement) mark women’s sports as entertainment of the wrong sort. What to do: No one says you have to wear granny rags to work out or play, but respect yourself as an athlete. Who wants to slide into third wearing hot pants (and whose idea are shorts in softball anyhow?)?