Do you know if your country has a women’s cricket team or football team? If you are a person following sports, have you ever attempted to follow women’s sports? I am aware that even majority women don’t follow women’s sports. One obvious reason for this is: “There aren’t that many women in sports as there are in men.” Yes, true. But why there aren’t that many women in sports? Two commonly accepted reasons:
- Women are not interested in sports as much as men
- Women cannot be great at activities that require physical strength
Both of these reasons are unacceptable to me. Here’s why.
Women are not interested in sports as much as men:
Is this really true? To me, this sounds like a defensive answer rather than an actual one. Let me ask you this: How do you expect a girl to be interested in sports when her parents had strongly inculcated the belief (in childhood itself) that “Sports is not for women” and that “Women should not play sports after they become adults”? Without giving exposure, how do you expect her to be interested in it? According to a research study in Canada, if a girl has not participated in sports until age 10, there is only a 10% chance of her pursuing it as an adult.
You cannot say that: “She just din’t have interest to pursue sports” when you never gave her a chance to even try it out. If a girl is not encouraged in her childhood to play, she may never play in her life. A lot can change with the upbringing of a child.
Another major issue is gender stereotyping. Certain sports are stereotyped to be girly or boyish. Girls, most of the time, even if allowed to play, are generally encouraged to play games that do not require as much physical activity as the boys’. The universe of sports that women are exposed to is really small.
Women cannot be great at activities that require physical strength:
How do you know men are stronger? Most people think men are stronger because they have seen them lift heavy objects or do physically menial work. But,
- We have never tried to see as to what is the actual physical strength of women
- We fail to take notice of women who are actually physically strong
I agree women are biologically not as strong as men and they need extra effort to gain that strength. But even then, it is totally unfair to hold this as one of the reasons for not encouraging women in sports starting in childhood.
Before I go on any further, here is a video of one of the greatest tennis players history has ever seen.
After watching the video many people might argue: “Well, these stories are good for movies or for exceptional people, but in reality, this is not possible”. Please note that Billie Jean King is not a fictional character, nor did she have any magic powers. She was a normal human being like you and me. Also, it was not like she was completely fearless. She was scared too, like you and me. She was terrified to take up the challenge against Bobby Riggs. But she still did. The meaning of courage is grossly misunderstood.
Courage is not absence of fear. Courage is acting inspite of fear.
People did not encourage her because she was a woman. She did not have much support until she formed her own pro-women’s circuit. She built it all by herself.
To all parents: It is about time, we stop telling girls: “Don’t go out and play because you are an adult woman” and that “Women in sports is not widely accepted”.
To all women: Pursue your dreams. Don’t hang around for validation from people around you. It could be one of the biggest mistakes you make in life.
Pick who you want to be: You can choose to “Follow the standard algorithm in life and have a life filled with regrets about the things you din’t do” or “Do what you really want to do.” If you choose the latter, most often you might be treated as an outcast and you won’t be the popular or cool person in your community. But once you achieve your goal, you will be a role-model they look up to. Even if you fail, you are still a role-model because you had the courage to try that most people din’t”.