Sunday, September 7, 2014

AZ's Slant on Sunday - The Estrogen Revolution: Four Years Later

I like to think I know a lot about this topic. I am a woman, you know. Plus, there's a massive paradigm shift in the world of women's sports, and it has nothing to do with feminism. Crazy, right?

Many eons Four years ago, when I first started this blog, I wrote about the female side of sports, and how there were very few women's leagues that were stable enough to survive at that time. I had written about women's soccer leagues, women's softball, and how they've had a history of floundering. However, when I write about women in sports this time, it has nothing to do about leagues as a whole, but with individual women making strides where the boys and the men currently walk. If it's right for me to say, since they're not being taken seriously as a whole, women are beginning to invade. Is it a warm welcome? That remains to be seen, but it has been quite interesting over the past few months.

Within the past three months alone, we have seen three big national sports stories involving women young and old.

This summer, the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs announced that their new full-time assistant head coach would be WNBA player Becky Hammon. Before her election, she had already been respected by numerous officials, staff, and players of the NBA, who had claimed that she had a great knowledge of the sport, and that was the big key in wanting her for the position. She was also held in that regard as well among her peers in the WNBA. Believe it or not, this is kind of a big deal. Not only does this make Hammon the first woman to be any sort of full-time coach in the Big Four, it's also a testament to how far women have come as far as being respected by knowledge and mastery of the sport. She was given a chance, and she blew her naysayers out of the water, so to speak. Women can coach men. Heck, we can change their diapers and teach them manners, so why not aid them in sports too? It's just another example of stereotype and mental blockage and choosing to see the inferiority complex. However, Becky just nailed a jump shot over that wall now, didn't she?

Photo via Bleacher Report
In perhaps what was the biggest story of the summer, or what I like to call "the biggest sports story that the media could possibly shove down our throats," we were introduced to Philadelphia Little League pitcher Mo'ne Davis. Without doubt, it's always a treat to see a girl on a boy's team, because you automatically think that they had some kind of "it" factor to play with the boys instead of trying to go somewhere else for a Little League Softball team, but this... I can't describe this one. This 13-year-old pitcher dominated with different kinds of pitches, and became the first female to record a win in the Little League World Series. Right after that, she landed the cover of Sports Illustrated, becoming the youngest athlete to do so. She became a household name in my area, and she also made national headlines for her style, and because she was striking boys out. With some of the questions she was being asked during the LLWS, I felt extremely embarrassed for her, but she handled it like a champ, and I give her props for that. [Note: If you really want to know, that FN guy was the reason why I wanted to write this post. Thanks, Scrub.]

Back in August, Paul Farhi of The Washington Post wrote about how women have little-to-no visible opinion when it comes to the world of sports, and that is evident by their absence in sports debate programming. After reading this article, I pretty much exploded with the amount of truth in the article. While journalism as a whole is still dominated by men, tempers flare if (Heaven forbid) a woman makes an opinion or is involved in an athlete's controversy. Sure, there are women like Jemele Hill on ESPN who may make appearances on ESPN's First Take and Around The Horn, but she's one of like, two women out of how many guys that argue with each other on that station? Grant it, there's the philosophy that men are more likely to hire men, but what, is it out of fear? Is it out of the superiority complex? I could totally get myself in a bit of trouble for saying this, but the "TV look" really knocks down the credibility factor a couple of pegs, especially when it comes to women. This is why outsiders don't take women like Erin Andrews seriously. This is why when you see a woman take the upper hand in an argument, they're automatically assumed butch or lesbian. There, I said it. Get over yourselves and accept a different perspective instead of belittling a woman who might just know a little bit more than you. While it has gotten better as of late, the scales are still a little unbalanced. This will take some time.
Oh, and shall we talk about what Stephen A. Smith said about women "provoking" their husbands into domestic violence? That's another day and another time where I need to take my fists and feet to a sandbag.
You can read the article for yourself here.

When a woman makes an impact in the sports world somehow, it might seem like there is too much exposure on it, or that it might be overblown. However, let's put things into perspective for a second--we hear news stories about men all the time. When we hear a story about a woman in sports, whether it's about a young woman like Mo'ne Davis or a domestic assault involving US goalkeeper Hope Solo, it's like we're going: "Oh no, not this again." It's because we're not used to hearing it that it drives us nuts. If different things about women in sports were more mainstream, it wouldn't seem like it's being constantly sensationalized for our eyes and ears. The news stories this summer may have been stretched a bit too much for comfort, but we have seen a great improvement on the female's place in what looks like a faltering male domination in sports.

Can you say "Girl Power?"