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.