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GENDER

matters
Its a Mans World in Sports, but Whos to Blame?

MELISSA COLLIER

GENDER MATTERS

GENDER MATTERS
Its a Mans World in Sports, but Whos to Blame? Melissa Collier

George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia

GENDER MATTERS Copyright 2013 by Melissa Collier All rights reserved. No part of the material herein may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For further information, please write: Melissa Collier 4400 University Drive Fairfax, Virginia melcol34@gmail.com

DEDICATED TO: Those who are not afraid to go confidently in the direction of their dreams. My family, my heart; thank you for being my foundation, for your unceasing support in my pursuit of happiness and success. You mean the World to me.

ONTENT

IT BEGINS ON THE PLAYGROUND child-like mentality let the games begin COMING OF AGE a new state of mind check out whos watching COLLEGE BOUND yet another mental shift a familiar predicament WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD going pro top ten material vi

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REFAC

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Setbacks. We are all confronted by them, then defined by how we surmount them. This book is not a feminist manifesto, nor is it an attempt to hypnotize the reader into a slumber of pity-inspired action. This book is an acknowledgement of setbacks. An acknowledgement that it is undeniably a mans world in sports. This book is a confident smile, glimmering, as it acknowledges that change is one hurdle, one fast break, one homerun away. That no matter how much effort the forces of negativity, those relentless forces that have the tendency to leave the footsteps of progress stagnant, exert, it is no match for the great fortitude of womens athletics. Like a poem, the words within these pages serve as an expression of thought, of opinion; you, the reader, are then left to interpret the meaning of those words as you see fit. How will you respond? On your mark. Get set. The rest is up to you. M.C. Fairfax, Va May 2013

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GENDER MATTERS

01 IT BEGINS ON THE PLAYGROUND

a familiar sound ricochets against the walls whimsical, flowing repeatedly crashing until, finally, it invades our tiny drums we immediately follow suit whimsical, flowing crashing faster and faster until, at last, the blacktop sears our rubber soles thus, the sifting begins Tim, David... anxious gazes Liam, Jayden our numbers fading Mike, Enrique the captains dictate a single spot left viral stain woven into the fabric of my life summoning as two bodies remain quite similar, at this age wiry hairless breast-less frames lacking sight as we aim to be chosen our commander inhales his cords prepared to bellow ones fate but i have escaped, in the Nick of time, unable to face in this game of gender i have no say

PLAY

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MALES BUNDLED IN BLUE, females bundled in pink; with the first blink of his or her eye, the matters of gender rear their imposing heads.
From the first time an infant opens its tiny eyes and stretches its tiny limbs, it is subject to the inevitable separation from the opposite-sex. Males bundled in blue, females bundled in pink; with the first blink of his or her eye, the matters of gender rear their imposing heads. Males are taught to be independent, leaders, powerful and free, while females are engrained with ideals of domesticity, passivity, and beauty. Young boys are allowed to roam, be destructive, get dirty and play rough. Young girls are kept clean and expected to play gentle games. These gender roles follow young males and females to the playground and hand-pick the particular activities in which they are to participate, ensuring that little Lorenzo is thrown into ironically inactive game of hopscotch. a hard-hitting game of dodgeball, while little Patricia is nudged toward an

child-like mentality

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TELEVISED BEHAVIOR
Television, a powerful reinforcer of cultural attitudes, plays a major role in the separation, as well. Images of men are predominantly rugged and strong, selling heavy-duty trucks and machinery. The women are soft-spoken and dainty, advertising clothing and kitchen supplies. These, however, are not the products that a child will pay the most attention to. Advertisers are well aware of this fact. Instead, cartoon channels host a number of commercials boasting about the latest toys; these commercials are no better than the ones targeted toward adults. Little boys are shown racing toy cars and shooting one another with the newest Nerf guns. On the contrary, the commercials for little girls are flooded with pink, personifying Barbie and miniatures of the same kitchen supplies sold to mommy, aimed at selling one thing: domesticity. The playthings for young boys vary immensely, blatantly promoting actionpacked adventure, and violence.

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LITTLE BOYS ARE MORE likely to be involved in a game of dodgeball than little girls.

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CHILDREN AND SPORTS
While cartoon channels are busy filling the minds of children with toys, sports channels are simultaneously padding their minds with the exemplary athlete, who happens to not be broadcasting persuasive sports and cartoon female. With influences as heavy as television, channels that encourage gender differences, it their way into the physical play of children. As comes as no surprise that those same notions find mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, little boys are more likely to be involved in a game of dodgeball than little girls, who are rarely, if ever, is an increasing number of young females who coaxed to partake in sports. Nevertheless, there are interested in not only watching, but playing movement in the world of sports.

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sports, resulting in an abrupt, but much needed

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CHILDREN WHO PLAY SPORTS do better in the classroom, they learn the value of teamwork and goalsetting and have better health.
Young girls playing sports, gasp! It is a concept that is virtually unheard sport is individual, like track and field, or team-based, like kickball, girls are dropping their tea cups and taking their places on home plate. As in build. Although there are those who disagree with co-educational of and constantly overlooked, but it is undeniably at work. Whether the children, due to puberty and other factors, most girls and boys are similar sports, the playing field is equal at this age. Young girls go head-to-head with the boys and score as many baskets, win as many races, and bat as many home runs. Sports offer more to children than a mere fun way to exercise. Children who play sports do better in the classroom, they learn of their lives, experience boosted confidence, and have lower levels of the value of teamwork and goal-setting, have better health over the course stress. Why would anyone want their children, daughters especially, to not play sports with benefits like those? It could be that any person who watches athletic events, from the high-school level to the pros, knows that its a mans world in sports and any woman bold enough to challenge that pretense is in for a persistent barrage of hurdles.

let the games begin

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02 COMING OF AGE

different older mind-numbing changes passions in disarray barely dodging the complacent nature of those surrounding my solitary trend toward in the direction of

VARSITY

greatness no weight lifted as i am caught sporting hormonal interference stimulating his athletic dominance but for me exalting the opposite tiresome efforts to remain relevant as I progress in all the wrong places face it these games, no longer games plagued by competition amongst ourselves amongst these raging cells increasingly frail concealed by the shadows of their existence

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VARSITY SPORTS ARE THE pinnacle of popularity; these are elite athletes, everyone knows who they are and which teams they play for.
High-school is a monster, littered with pressures and intensified by the effects of puberty. High-school sports are no less ominous. The once fun past-times are separated not only by gender, but skill, as well. These males and females are no longer simply kids running around, enjoying themselves, but student-athletes who are competing to be the best of the and homework. Typically, each sports team has three levels: freshman, junior varsity, and varsity. Varsity sports are the pinnacle of popularity; best, while concurrently balancing a never-ending pile of class assignments these males and females are elite athletes, everyone knows who they are and which teams they play for. Wait, typo there; these males and females are elite athletes and everyone knows who the male athletes are and which female athletes are now doubly cornered, pitted against one another and teams they play for. Quite unlike the golden days of co-educational sports, male athletes for a even a meager amount of exposure or fan appreciation.

a new state of mind

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PUBLICITY DOES NO GOOD for the majority of those females who are putting in just as much time and effort as their male counterparts.
FACES IN THE CROWD
Its 5pm, the lights are blaring, the crowd, made up of parents and a few friends, is small, the starters focus on the referee, waiting for the whistle to initiate the start of the game, and for a second, all goes quiet. One long screech echoes through the ears of the starters, the substitutes, the coaches, the unenthusiastic cheer squad, the mascot, the small amount of fans, and the game begins. Its 6:30pm, the clock is winding down as the bleachers begin to fill up, the home team feeds off the energy of the never-ending stream of new faces and the home team rallies for the win. Everyone cheers, momentarily acknowledging the womens varsity team as they head to the locker room, exuberantly carried by the victory, and, bleachers are packed and the crowd rises, roaring with excitement, as within seconds, the women are forgotten. Its 7pm, the once near-empty the mens varsity team replaces the women, the cheer squad is suddenly fanatical, and within minutes, the game begins. In high school athletics, there are a number of times throughout a season when the mens and womens teams will host double-headers. The womens team plays first,

check out whos watching

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as a mediocre warm-up before the main attraction. Fans who are desperate to get a good seat for the mens game show up early and endure the final minutes of the preceding game. The majority of those fans, however, will not see another womens game, at least not willingly.

MEDIA EXPOSURE
High school athletics are all about exposure, but while the men have the potential to be drafted before ever stepping a foot on a college campus, the women are fighting for even the tiniest chance at a scholarship from a decent college team. Major sports television networks, like ESPN, have begun to broadcast high school sporting events, especially football. Those athletes, consequently have a higher chance of being looked at by scouts, coaches, and agents; this is great for the those athletes and their respective high schools, right? Not exactly. Those players being given the opportunity of a lifetime are predominantly male. These networks are less likely to cover female high school events, thus, this publicity does no good for the majority of those females who are putting in just as much time and effort as their male counterparts. Female high school teams have to work twice as hard to grasp the attention of the media. Without a few regional or state championships under their belt, female teams will dwindle in importance with each setting of the sun. Unfortunately, the circumstance fails to get any better as these female athletes continue to climb the ladders of their specific sports.

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03 COLLEGE BOUND

the scholarly concrete enthusiastically embraces the cracked bottoms of my feet I blink away the rays cast by the sun reopening to my name engraved the fresh smell of pine engulfing my senses as I caress the neat stitches piercing the edges of the number characterizing my competitive

REALITY

triumphs vivid colors dance in my pupils drawn by portraits and 60 inches of television lining the perfectly painted walls refrigerator fully stocked with the reds and blues of sports drinks massage table to the left pool table to the right brand new couch emitting the musk of genuine leather I lay upon it, drifting slowly into slumber only to awake to the dimly lit chamber known as the womens locker room

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DESPITE THIS HONOR, DESPITE all the dedication, many of the womens teams remain a mere spec in the limelight of the mens teams.
Classes are longer. Workouts are not only longer, but more intense. Theres less free time as the collegiate student-athlete transitions from the ease of high school to the difficulty of finding equilibrium in the barrage of responsibilities that come along with the commitment to collegiate athletics. Summer workouts. Summer classes. Pre-season conditioning. Weightlifting. Team meetings. Eat healthy. Class. Individual workouts. Practice. Homework. Games. More practice. Sleep, but not for long. Repeat. Why did they sign up for this? Good question; these athletes are the upper echelons, hand-picked by scouts, required to fulfill high expectations immediately, with the prospect of a permanent championship banner as the reward. They are the representatives, the money-makers, the faces of their various colleges. Who wouldnt want to be a part of that? Despite this honor, despite all the dedication, many of the womens teams remain a mere spec in the limelight of the mens teams.

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A WOMENS TEAM THAT makes regular NCAA appearances will fall short of the staggering audience numbers in mens athletics.
Unlike in high school, college athletics rarely host double-headers. Therefore, the womens teams, as they struggle to lay the foundation of a path separate from the mens, are forced to rely on their own production to bring in fans. Even with a winning record, a steady fan-base is not guaranteed in womens athleticsuntil, of course, that teams rakes in a couple of NCAA tournament appearances or, better yet, win the tournament. Sadly, even a womens team that makes regular NCAA fall short of the staggering audience numbers in mens athletics. appearances will see an increase in audience numbers, but will continue to

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SELLING YOUR SOUL


In college sports, the potential for acquiring the attention of the media is much more obtainable for female athletes; that is, as long as they are willing to be sexualized. These female athletes have blossomed from children to women. The media exploits them primarily as women, then, as if an afterthought, as athletes. Being a female athlete is an expression of strength and independence, which are traits that defy the traditional views of proper characteristics for women. Therefore, to assert their femininity and thwart being categorized as masculine or lesbian, these female athletes will welcome the medias sexualization. There is nothing wrong with women who embrace their womanliness, but for those who do not wish to take that route, what other options for publicity exist? The answer is none. The feminine mystique plagues American society; without sex appeal, there is no possibility for achievement, status, or identity. The medias glorification of these women for their appeal sexually does nothing but diminish their credibility and accomplishments as athletes.

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04 WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD

obstacles continuously present continuously hurdled burdened by the beautiful essence of being a woman in a world dominated by men but hopeful as the tests of time attempt to level

CAREER

the field on which we play seeking graciously asking to be acknowledged better yet appreciated for exuding competitive excellence with the confidence to pursue physical exertion as an occupation professionally careering smashing intentionally into the ominous invisible ceiling with the passing of each year

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THESE YOUNG GIRLS REALIZE being a professional female athlete is nowhere near as glamorous as being a professional male athlete.
To go, or not go professional? For young girls who play sports, there is no doubt that being a professional athlete is the ultimate goal. What could be better than being recognized as elite athletes by millions, to be passionate about their chosen careers, to be paid to do something they love? As they pursue their careers as athletes, these young girls quickly realize being a professional female athlete is nowhere near as glamorous as being a professional male athlete. For years, these female athletes sit uniforms, better locker rooms, receive more fans, more publicity, stay at the higher the level, the worse the situation becomes. in the shadows of their male equivalents, watching as they are given better nicer hotels, fed better meals, in sum, catered to. They quickly realize that

going pro

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PLAYING OVERSEAS
In America, the most money a WNBA player can make in a season is $105,000; yet, there are NBA players who make approximately $280,000per game. The salary difference is astronomical not just for professional women basketball players, but for all professional women athletics. Overseas, however, that same WNBA player could sign a seven-month contract starting at $40,000 and eventually make as much as $600,000, incentives included, in a season. Not only do the salaries increase overseas for women athletes, but they are welcomed by a much more loyal and appreciative fan-base. In the 2012 London Olympics, for example, the numbers of fans attending the womens tennis and basketball events, to name a couple, were just as high as those attending the mens events. Professional tennis promotes gender equity, providing equal prize money to male and female athletes in Wimbledon and Grand Slam events, for example, so it comes as no surprise that their audience numbers are balanced.

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GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Besides the obvious positive results for women playing sports overseas, like being paid more and respected for their athletic talents, for instance, there exist other benefits that delve much deeper. Sports have always acted as a unifying force; whether bringing together athletes of different races or finding a common ground for athletes with different economic statuses, sports have the capability of closing major gaps in society. Playing sports overseas markets a world where cultural differences amongst countries are pushed aside. War-ridden countries will come together to support a common sports team, as often happens in professional soccer. Sports teach people to look beyond their dissimilarities and as a result, fans of all races, sizes, and genders learn that they in fact share a common interest, while the teams playing build diverse families, made up of a variety of differences, amongst themselves.

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NOT MANY CLIPS OF women dominating their sports come to mind, a flood of NBA dunks and MLB home runs come immediately.
In the past few years, there has been an increase in the amount of womens athletic events that are broadcasted on sports networks. Initially, if it was not a cheerleading competition or gymnastics, a womens sporting event would not be seen on television. Think of ESPNs top 10 plays and not many clips of women dominating their sports will come to mind, but a flood of NBA dunks and MLB home runs will reel fervently. Interestingly enough, ESPN has begun to make small efforts to feature professional womens athletics, sometimes even at prime time. It seems to be a never-ending roller coaster in the matter of gender in sports, but as women continue to destroy the existing barriers, the exhausting ride is indeed nearing its end.

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This book was designed, written, and hand bound by Melissa Collier. The text is set in 9-1/4 pt Avenir with Birth of a Hero for chapter headers/ sub-headers and Bonveno for displaying poem titles/pull-quotes. Printed Spring 2013. Designed and bound at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

APATHY LOOMS OVER THE world of womens athletics like a permanent thunderstorm.