Gender Bias in Broadneck Athletics
By Isabella Rubino and Hannah Waters
On June 6, 1946, the National Basketball Association was established. Fifty years later, the Women’s National Basketball Association was created on the 24th of April, 1996. While most people regard this particular women’s progressive movement as an unforgettable step forward, we must acknowledge the country’s underlying sexism. Despite the fact that men’s and women’s basketball are the same sport, men’s basketball is simply referred to as basketball, but women’s basketball requires a gender designation. How can we dispel the gender discrimination throughout Broadneck athletics?
Broadneck’s lack of support for women’s athletics demonstrates gender bias. Title IX is a law that ensures equal opportunity for boys and girls in schools, colleges, and universities. This requires the same level of equipment and supplies, as well as the same level of scheduling and publicity. Female sports, on the other hand, such as women’s field hockey, women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball, receive less attention until they gain the attention of the state. Every Friday morning, for example, the video announcement would promote various activities or clubs that were taking place across campus. Every Friday during the fall athletic season, every student could look forward to a showcase of the most recent football highlights, as well as an announcement of their next game, including the time and theme. It must be noted that football does not ask to be in the announcements, the announcements team only asks for their consent to be featured. While football’s accomplishments are undeniable, many other sports do not receive the same level of attention. Broadneck, for example, invited Ravens cheerleaders and a Ravens player to one of the football games in order to entice fans to attend. The majority of other sports do not provide similar opportunities. While many people believe that going to football games is an American tradition, and while they can be a lot of fun, many people go to see their friends and avoid FOMO. We need to look at ourselves as a school and as a culture to see why kids are expected to support the football team, but not any other sporting activity. Although many people enjoy football, the team’s continued enthusiastic support stems from gender discrimination, as football is one of the few sports with no female counterpart. Football is viewed as male-only sport that provides an opportunity for young men to put their manhood to the test. As a school and a community, we must consider whether football’s popularity stems from its athleticism or from the fact that it is the type of sport that men enjoy and are most represented by.
here are biological differences between men and women that allow for separated sports. However, these biological differences are not an excuse to not support women’s sports at Broadneck. Since the beginning of time, women have been stereotyped as being too little, too weak, or too unintelligent to fully comprehend how to play a sport. In fact, it wasn’t till 1972 until Title IX was passed declaring that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”. The recent passing of this law does not dismiss the stereotypical description of women’s sports at Broadneck. According to Medline.gov, traits related to athleticism include the “maximum amount of oxygen the body can deliver to its tissues (aerobic capacity), muscle mass, height, flexibility, coordination, intellectual ability, and personality”. Some of these factors, such as oxygen intake and height, do impact men having greater performance rates, but research reveals that flexibility, coordination, and personality tilt toward female supremacy. Furthermore, there are no substantial disparities in intellectual abilities between men and women. This clearly shows how Bruin women and men are theoretically equally at a disadvantage when it comes to biological factors. Medline.gov also says, “Athletic performance is also strongly influenced by the environment. Factors such as the amount of support a person receives from family and coaches, allow one to pursue the activity”. Women will be discouraged from even trying to play a sport if they are repeatedly informed societal gender discriminatory norms, resulting in greater success for male players. In fact, just 43% of high school athletes are female, which is mostly due to gender discrimination that begins at a young age.
Not only is there gender bias against women, but there are numerous incidences of discriminatory actions against men as well. Many sports, such as lacrosse and basketball, have female and male counterparts at Broadneck, but in some cases, only one gender is represented. Women’s field hockey and volleyball, for example, both have male counterparts, but aren’t available for male students. Men’s volleyball is a popular sport that is even featured in Olympic events, however we don’t have a men’s team at Broadneck. This is in violation of Title IX, which mandates that if a person is interested in something, they must be given equal opportunity regardless of gender. This refers to Title IX’s satisfactory part. Currently, many boys at Broadneck and other schools in Anne Arundel County desire to play but are unable to commit to a club team, which can cost thousands of dollars and requires a significant time commitment. Many argue that there is no interest in male volleyball in our area, which is why the county is unable to sustain a men’s team. This is simply not the case; as a female volleyball player, I know a lot of people who would enjoy playing. Furthermore, a lack of popularity is a direct outcome of a lack of opportunities. How can one tell if they are interested in a sport if they have no opportunities to play?
As authors of this column, we must acknowledge our own bias as women in athletics in order to discuss gender inequality throughout Broadneck. Although we are both passionate about achieving gender equality in women’s sports, our personal experiences are unaffected. We both play varsity volleyball on the women’s team and have seen firsthand the lack of visibility for our team, as well as the lack of support from students and administrators. Our opinions may differ, but we encourage you to put yourself in our position and picture what it’s like to be continually taught that you are inferior to males, particularly in athletics. Our school’s intention was undoubtedly not to discredit our female athletes; however, we must do better in recognizing bias within ourselves. To eliminate discrimination for good for every little girl who dreams of becoming a pro-athlete or simply signing up for a sport for fun, society as a whole must work to create a supportive environment. In this way, girls will be able to receive the same support as boys in the future. Broadneck students must work to change our own narratives and attitudes toward women’s sports in order to ensure a bright future for all athletes.