“What a three!” I remember exclaiming watching Mikayla Cowling, Cal’s guard/forward, beat the clock with an impressive shot to beat the third quarter buzzer against Colorado.
From where I was sitting, I had a friend ask me who I was watching. I responded without looking up from my screen that it was Mikayla Cowling.
“Oh, it’s women’s basketball,” my friend muttered. This time I looked up.
I’ve heard numerous times that these are just jokes and that women athletes are respected and admired all the same, but that’s simply not true. A study done at Syracuse University reported 29 times more people attend men’s basketball games than women’s. Still think it’s a joke?
The hardest part about this unfortunate circumstance is the sheer amount of talent that many choose to ignore. Women athletes train just as hard, overcome personal obstacles and are subjected to constant scrutiny, but the media’s focus is unfairly skewed.
The coverage of women in the media is an issue in and of itself, but in sports, the severity of imbalanced coverage is even greater. The focus on women’s appearances over their skill set tremendously takes away from their accomplishments as athletes.
It seems strange that we treat women so differently in sports. Some argue that it’s because men have more physical capability or are objectively better at sports. But I think this is just a negative perspective and there are other ways of looking at it.
Men and women have different bodies and ranges of motion, much like how men in theater sing at a different pitch than women. We haven’t arbitrarily decided that bassists are more talented or deserving than sopranos because that’s ridiculous. We also find it unique and special when men sing soprano or when women sing bass. The same should apply in sports.
It’s plain to see that these athletes deserve to be treated as the stars they are. But they are fighting a battle that extends past the realm of the NBA and WNBA. For example, did you know that when a woman wins at Wimbledon she gets a Venus Rosewater dish and if a man wins he gets a gold-plated trophy?
Seeing the massively unbalanced playing field women athletes deal with seems to me a statement of their strength and credibility. It seems unnecessary to allow men to remain solely in the limelight when there is enough space for everyone. We as viewers have an obligation to set the record straight when certain individuals attempt to degrade the plights of female athletes.
It’s important to think about the way we speak about and treat women athletes because we as the public determine the future of media. Furthermore, the way we treat women athletes may dictate how many young girls seek to participate in sports in the future.
All it takes is people to fuel the conversation and we are bound to start a ripple effect. We can’t stop talking, not even for a second. The next time I hear a conversation about the inadequacy of women’s sports at Cal, I will promptly intervene and stand up for my fellow women.
Contact Zulaika Zulkephli at [email protected].