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Bucknell, Fun

Pass me the ball, I’m open!


Athleticism is one of the main components of my personal identity. I consider myself to be pretty athletic and very competitive when it comes to sports. I grew up playing three sports (water polo, swimming, and softball) and succeeded in all three. Over the past three summers I have been a beach lifeguard in Corolla, NC where I have participated in big lifeguarding competitions and placed in multiple events in the South Atlantic Region. At Bucknell, I am a co-captain of the women’s water polo team (where we just went 4-1 this past weekend!) and have started all four years. Sports have consumed and play an important component of my life.

From my personal experience, I still see a large part of American society being sexist towards women’s athletics. For example, during high school gym class, we would play all sorts of co-ed sports including softball, basketball, handball, volleyball, and tennis. When it came time to the team sports, I would always become very frustrated. During handball for example, the boys would never pass me the ball even when I was wide open, in a scoring position, and calling for the ball. It was discouraging and frustrating and I ended up just walking back and forth on the court since there was no hope for me to get to participate. I have not only experienced this discrimination on the field but also by the attendance to female sporting events versus men. The men’s water polo team here at Bucknell will have the stands packed during their home games while the women’s team will have maybe a quarter of the attendance (mostly family).

Overall, I feel as though discrimination against women has dramatically improved expect for when it comes to sports. The passing of Title 9 has helped against discrimination by creating an equal opportunity for women to participate in sports as men but it hasn’t made everything “okay”. There is still discrimination experienced by women athletes including myself. This is seen in the money paid to professional athletes as well as media attention. Men are paid more and have more media attention. My personal identity has not changed due to my experiences but my overall perception of gender identity has. I view women as being stronger mental athletes then men since women have to accomplish more athletically to get noticed in society. On that note, I encourage everyone to try to attend at least one woman athletic event before graduation if you have not done so already.

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About Amanda Skonezney

I am a senior accounting major and anthropology minor at Bucknell University. I am also apart of the division I women's water polo team. I currently live in Harrisburg, PA. After graduation, I plan on going into tax and earning my CPA.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “Pass me the ball, I’m open!

  1. When reading your post, the first thing that came to my mind was the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association). I have always been interested in basketball and played competitively in high school. I remember watching WNBA games on TV sometimes and my brother making fun of the league, comparing the women to NBA athletes and criticizing their style of play. I remember him even refering to the WNBA games as “a joke”. While basketball is basketball, I don’t think that it is fair to compare the NBA to the WNBA. While the WNBA will likely never be as popular or receive as much media attention as the NBA, I think that the league has a great fan base and that the WNBA players are great role model for young girls who aspire to compete in whatever sport. I wish people would just be more open-minded and not always criticizes what they don’t like (womens basketball).

    Posted by Lauren McGuiggan | February 27, 2012, 5:04 pm
  2. Amanda, I totally understand your frustration. In high school, I was the only girl who ever participated in gym class. I loved playing dodge ball, pickle ball and my personal favorite… speedball. Usually, the gym teachers, all male, only passed to me. Even though I appreciated that they included me, they often discouraged other girls from participating. Most of the time, the girls would just stand there, and not really try. They always gave them a “way out” but telling them they could go into the work out room and walk on the treadmill or if it was warm out, to walk around the track. Most of the girls loved the “get out of gym free card,” but in reality, I think that the girls didn’t try because they weren’t encouraged or pushed as much as the guys. Even though I showed interest in playing, I am confident that if the gym teachers would have pushed the girls harder or worked on integrated the sexes better more girls would have participated.

    Posted by Dana Silverstein | February 27, 2012, 5:17 pm
    • Though I didn’t always love gym glass, I was one of the girls who would participate as well. I always had female gym teachers and the guys had male teachers, even when we had substitutes. Girls would constantly complain we only ever played male dominated sports, such as basketball, touch football and golf. The only options for girls to get out of gym was to either stand in the back and do nothing, which resulted in a poor grade for the day, or to say their cramps were horrendous and would to go the nurse’s office for the remainder of class. Rainy days typically resulted in dodge ball. We used soft balls of various sizes instead of the hard, bouncy balls. Regardless, the guys usually took the game way out of control. Their competitiveness and all-out-warfare nature of playing created an atmosphere in which girls, including myself, did not want to be a part of. Girls were always picked last for the teams because we couldn’t “throw as hard” or “run as fast” – all assumptions made by the male gender against us. I played volleyball and softball; I knew for sure I could out run some of them. This still didn’t encourage me to get into the game just to end up getting pegged in the face with a dodge ball! I feel that the guys probably picked up on if they continued to play that rough, girls wouldn’t participate, allowing them to play their own game. This same atmosphere was apparent in other sports we played too. Badmitten, one of my favorites, consisted of us being paired up with someone of the opposite sex (pushing the interaction of the sexes). This typically backfired in that the guy would hog all the shots and would tell the girl to just stand in the back and look pretty so their team could win, no matter how good she may have been. Though our gym teachers would say some motivational words to get out and participate more, they never pushed the issue farther than forcing partners upon us. The feeling of being inadequate was a constant during gym class. I’m not surprised, by your comment Dana, that this is a shared experience among students.

      Posted by Danielle Marquette | February 27, 2012, 9:34 pm
      • Softballs for dodgeball? That should be illegal. Who allowed that?

        Posted by Jordi | February 28, 2012, 1:08 am
      • Not softballs but soft balls – these were larger foam filled balls with a squishier consistency so they wouldn’t hurt as much as a dodgeball would. Sorry for the confusion! Real softballs would be no fun to get hit with!

        Posted by Danielle Marquette | February 28, 2012, 11:21 am
      • Lol. Ok.

        Posted by Jordi | February 28, 2012, 7:12 pm
  3. Amanda, I completely agree with your stance on a large part of American society being sexist towards women’s athletics. I’ve experienced this at my high school and here at Bucknell. In high school, our women’s softball team would hardly get half of the attendance of the men’s baseball team – much like your experience with water polo. I even went through this with my own family. My Dad played multiple sports in his high school and college career and always encouraged me to play. But, he rarely came to my games. Now that one of my younger brothers plays football, my Dad is much more active in going to his games. This perplexes me as I know he supports both of us. I’ve witnessed the same behavior here. I play on the women’s club rugby team (though we didn’t have enough members to play again this semester 😦 ). The men’s team is more widely received and their attendance and support stretches much greater lengths than ours. Our home games typically consist of any of our families coming to watch and those friends we can pull out of bed early to come. Though there is this equal opportunity for women to participate in sports, the hoopla surrounding male sports and performance continues to outweigh women’s.

    Posted by Danielle Marquette | February 27, 2012, 9:47 pm
  4. So, what do you say to the argument that attendance at collegiate events or professional events is simply consumer choice? Individuals are deciding what they like best and they like the men’s sports more. Is the market always right?

    Posted by Jordi | February 28, 2012, 1:07 am
    • Jordi, I do believe that the market prefers men sport, at least based on money. Men’s basketball, football, and baseball make large profits from selling tickets and gaining fans, but these teams have been a part of America longer than the civil rights movement for women. Babe Ruth for example is a great American hero of baseball and he played in the 1920’s. It is therefore hard for women to enter a market that was already biased towards men. Women have constantly been trying to gain a larger fan base by offering special events at their games or other incentives for attending. I know among the female athletes at Bucknell we make an effort to attend each other’s events with signs and a cheering crowd. I guess one way women athletics can start gaining more attendance is by first gaining the support of other women.

      Posted by Amanda Skonezney | February 28, 2012, 9:03 pm
  5. I understand that this is a problem, and I have been playing sports since I could walk, but I do think it may just be consumer choice, as Jordi asked. I know that when I played lacrosse in high school I certainly appreciated when fans showed up to watch, but I understood why they didn’t. Men’s lacrosse is a lot more entertaining, as there are less rules and it is pretty much football with a stick. I would much rather watch men’s lacrosse games than women’s. I even remember my friends and I talking about how we wish we could just play men’s lacrosse, as it seemed like a lot more fun. My brothers thought I was crazy and that I would get killed, but I think I could handle it. This brings up another issue: Is it right that men’s athletics have less rules than women’s? I think this is the real issue at hand. In men’s lacrosse they have to wear so much protection because they are assumed to be constantly hitting each other with a stick, where in women’s lacrosse we only wear goggles and a mouth guard because the game is less aggressive. Back to the question at hand, this is just one example of when men’s athletics might be more preferable to women’s athletics, and I do not think there is anything wrong with this if the games are inherently different.

    Posted by alyssakinell | February 28, 2012, 12:29 pm
    • Of course you could handle the men’s rules. Hell, you ever seen women’s rugby? Women soldiers? There is even research ( I think) that women have HIGHER pain thresholds on average than men (I wonder why? Duh. Eve;s curse).

      Posted by Jordi | February 29, 2012, 8:08 pm
  6. Amanda, I admire your determination to stick with athletics and your resume speaks for itself with your accomplishments. I couldn’t agree more with your post regarding female athletics. Why is that they don’t receive as much attention as male athletics? Jordi does bring up a good point concerning consumer choice which is really out of anybody’s hands, but what’s at the root of this dilemma. I think this situation is correlated to what Dana brought up the other day in class concerning America revolving around middle-class white males. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe basketball was first played by males and therefore has evolved with that notion. Unfortunately this does not correct the current disequilibrium nor excuse it but it does get to the root of this injustice. Providing equal opportunities for women is a giant step in the right direction and I can only see this disequilibrium continue to progress toward a balance.

    Posted by Patrick | February 28, 2012, 7:10 pm
  7. Amanda – thank you for bringing this issue to light. I was thinking about writing on a similar topic until I saw you had beaten me to the punch! I grew up as the ultimate tomboy – they separated boys and girls in gym class but put me in the boys group. I played in an all-boys basketball league for many years growing up. I think I did a good job of breaking down some gender barriers at this young age by proving to the boys that I could be just as good of an athlete as they were. However, I was in the ultimate minority. While I may have proved myself, the boys still had the same general view about the rest of the girls. I was simply an exception instead of proving that many girls could compete against boys. I’m taking a sports sociology class right now, and we learned that before puberty, boys and girls actually have the potential for equal athletic ability. Despite this fact, it is so ingrained in our society that males are better athletes, that this disparity in mindsets about boys and girls in sports occurs at a very young age. Furthermore, it is irritating that female athletes are often portrayed as overly sexualized and feminine in the media as if they have something to prove. The story of Caster Semanya is very interesting – she won a gold medal in the 800 meters in 2009 and almost had her medal taken away because people began to speculate about her gender. After it was confirmed that she was in fact a woman and was allowed to keep her medal, a magazine did a complete makeover of her
    (see the image here: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.404925!/img/httpImage/image.jpg) to make her appear more feminized. It is frustrating that female athletes must be shaped and changed to how the media thinks they can sell them.

    Posted by Beth O'Brien | February 28, 2012, 8:51 pm

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