By Rachael Goldenberg
Who would have thought that one call — way back on opening day — could determine the outcome of a collegiate softball season?
Wednesday, March 17 was the start of the season for Wellesley College’s Varsity Softball team. We had a strong team, and my teammates and I were excited, panting out our nerves as we finished our warm-up sprints. I could feel the brisk air enter my lungs as I tried to catch my breath. Our first double header was at DIII nationally-ranked Brandeis University and we were ready.
In game one we hit our way to a terrific 9-7 victory. In the second game, we were battling back and forth. At the end of five innings Brandeis led 6-3. As we slipped on our batting gloves to launch our comeback, the umpire raised his hands. He was calling the game for darkness.
It was only after I dropped my helmet and muttered “good game” that I noticed our surroundings: We were the only ones in the dark. Stadium lighting bathed the entire Brandeis athletics complex in bright light — except for the patch of darkness which enveloped the women’s softball diamond. The adjacent baseball field, abandoned an hour earlier by the men’s team, was completely illuminated along with the deserted track.
Clearly, someone had decided that although there were numerous lighting poles installed and electrical power sources run in order to install the men’s lights, it was not worth including fixtures and bulbs facing the women’s softball field.
Now, three months later, I enter my coach’s office to discuss why our season ended three weeks early. Turns out, that opening day 5-inning loss against Brandeis eliminated our chance at a regional bid. One college official’s call that female athletics did not deserve lighting (but the men did) had the ripple effect of ending my collegiate season early.
Softball is a sport decided by calls — the coaches’, the umpires’, the players’. As the sun went down at 6:56 pm on March 17, my teammates and I experienced the fallout of a college official’s call that the softball field didn’t need lights. I can’t help but see this as a deeper failure.
Discriminatory decisions have far reaching effects. This is not just about prematurely ending a softball game (and season), but perpetuating the belief that females don’t deserve — or won’t notice or don’t really need — equal facilities. Somehow, I couldn’t imagine the reverse happening: A men’s college baseball game called for darkness while a fully-lit women’s softball field right beside it glowed, unused?