Discrimination in sports needs to stop

Sam Kelderman, Sports Editor

It’s the moment before game time. You hear the crowd cheering for your team. Excitement surges through your veins. You have visualized and analyzed every play and maneuvered through all potential issues that your team could face in the contest. Your training, work ethic and dedication to the sport you love have finally gotten you to this point.
The only thing left to do is perform; however, there is one problem. You are a woman playing in a male dominated sport. Are the crowd and teams going to judge you for your performance, strength and ability demonstrated in the competition, or based on the femininity you possess?
This is a constant struggle for not only females participating in male dominated sports but males participating in female dominated sports. The division between male and female representation in sports is defined by the fact that not every sport is universally coed.
People should be able to participate in the sport that they want to, regardless of cultural distinctions because people will be participating in the sports that they love and our society will progress further in the universal equality of all Americans.
Now I am not saying the males and female should be playing together on the same sports teams and playing in the same games. Some athletes, such as female wrestlers and male cheerleaders, can perform up to level of their opposite sex sport. However, it would be impractical for most athletes to compete with the opposite sex on the same team.
However, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be mens volleyball teams and womens football teams. The representation of females and males in their typical opposite gendered dominated sport is still limited, even at the high school level, and that needs to change. For example, only boys have the opportunity to play football in high school. Yes, girls can join a boys high school football team, but there is no actual girls football team. Similarly, volleyball is not an option for boys at most high schools.
The reasoning behind this division has to do with the culture we grow up in and what defines being a man or a woman. Our society wants to see males demonstrating masculine characteristics such as strength, endurance, and power in sports. Females are destined to show feminine characteristics such as agility, elegance, and grace.
Sports like football, basketball and wrestling all demonstrate more masculine characteristics, which makes the athlete seem more “manly”. When female athletes participate in the sport, they are also viewed as manly for demonstrating their strength and endurance like males.
This limits female athletes from participating in these sports because society wants females to act strictly “feminine” which makes female athletes think twice about playing in a male dominated sport.
It is okay for females to demonstrate masculine characteristics and males to demonstrate feminine characteristics when playing sports. If they love their sport and want to be successful at it, then the cultural norm of women having to act strictly feminine should be completely irrelevant.
Since society’s cultural definition of what it means to be a man and a woman limit athletes from playing the sports that they love, they are less likely to find the courage and confidence to stand up against society and play that sport.
We live in a transitioning society–where people can finally live the lives they want–regardless of the cultural differences of the past. However, this fight for equality and freedom for everyone is far from over. Having male and female options in all sports will be a small change, but it’s a change for the betterment of society.