What Are High School Sports Teaching Our Girls?
This week I went to my daughter’s varsity softball game for the first time. It was a late afternoon game on a beautiful 78° day.
Ironically, the game was at a high school I spent four years teaching at two decades ago.
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember where the damn softball field was. My 45-year-old eyes spotted some uniforms on a field and I headed that way not realizing those were the boys.
I walked up to the field and it rivaled the spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Poles with flags and banners promoting the team and various local businesses. Gorgeous views of North Scottsdale served as the backdrop.
This is baseball in Arizona. Not football in Texas.
“Where do the girls play?” I asked a sweet looking student manning a merchandise and snack table and reading Catch-22.
“Oh. Way on the other side of the track just south of the middle school parking lot.”
I got in my car and drove over there. Yes, I had to get in my car and drive to the middle school and park in their parking lot. There is no banner lined entrance. I only found the entrance to the field through a small opening in a chain-link fence.
I could’ve driven closer to the game. I didn’t realize that the dirt road past the gate was what took you out to the field.
There was no snack stand. There is no unassuming teenagers selling merchandise.
There was no shaded grandstand. The boys had a packed house. There were five of us sitting in bleachers watching these girls give it everything they had.
It bothered me deep down into my core.
When we got home, my daughter sat at the counter while I made dinner. While I cooked she showed me a picture on her phone.
“Oh my God. Would you look at this? Seriously.”
It was a picture of the boys’ field at her own school. All the senior boys had big pictures on the wind screens of them in their uniforms. The girls don’t have that.
The boys have a working sound machine on their field that allows for music to be played in between innings and as walk up songs. My daughter doesn’t have a walk up song. No one’s asked her what it would be.
There are pictures in the gymnasium of the varsity baseball players. There’s nothing for the varsity girls.
The message being sent to our girls is clear: No one cares about you.
And you know what? They feel it.
Without a doubt, an argument said that if the girls wanted these things they could have them too. They just need to make that happen.
You’re absolutely right in saying that. But, it’s also bullshit. No one’s telling them these things are options. No one’s fighting for them. Not their coach. Not the school. Not the parents.
My daughter and her teammates are not happy. One girl, however, was not bothered. She said they were not playing well and therefore did not deserve all of the bells and whistles that the boys had.
Oh, sweet girl. The fact that you don’t have these items has nothing to do with whether you’re winning or not. Or, whether the boys are winning or not.
The boys were given these things for one reason. They are boys.
My daughter’s team, to be honest, is not very good. There’s a reason, though. I can see it in how they play. They don’t matter. None of it matters. If they win or if they lose. Nothing. Matters.
I can’t help but believe that if you gave them something to be proud of, if you gave them something to honor, they would honor it. They would respect it. They would fight hard on its behalf.
Something is going to change next year because they have lit up the wrong feminist mom.
I’m going to be the biggest goddamn champion this girls varsity team has ever had. Because someone’s got to do it. Someone’s got to remind these girls that they’re just as good as the boys and they deserve to have the fundraising attention and the community support. Someone needs to tell them that their turn at bat has come.
You think my kid’s hell on wheels? Just you wait.