Having grown up in an era where women were expected to be prim and proper, it was beyond my wildest dreams that one day I’d be among the throngs of folks who avidly follow women’s sports – both collegiate and professional. I could not fathom an era when the members of the female population would not only be allowed to participate in such activities as basketball, soccer and triathlons, but they would be lauded for doing so.
In high school my gym classes were composed of such thrilling sporting events as dodge ball, tumbling, and the ever-popular spring spectacular – May Pole.
On the rare occasions when we actually played a sport such as basketball, it was geared down to our “lowly” feminine level. We were, after all, merely girls and had to play like, well, girls.
I remember it so well.
We were placed on teams of six girls each; three played defense; three offense. No one ran further than the mid-court line. Therefore when the ball ended up under your opponent’s basket, the defensive three tried to keep the other team’s offensive three from making a basket. The players did so by jumping up and down, waving their arms wildly and making funny faces at the opposition. When the ball was on your side of the court the roles were reversed.
This was strictly a half-court game. No one moved out of her assigned space. How could they – for they were only allowed to dribble the ball three times before having to pass it to another player? This kept us all nice and neat and clean and allowed for a game that didn’t over-exert our fragile feminine bodies.
And now I find myself – a tad sleep deprived – as Joe and I have just driven back from Nashville where our UConn women beat Notre Dame in the final four championship game to claim their ninth national title. They played hard – rebounding, shooting, blocking shots, slamming into each other as they traveled the length of the court in a battle that would show the athleticism and endurance women really do possess when given the opportunity. As we now are – finally.
That is a very fine thing, indeed, for it shows how very far our society has come in two generations. Now when someone states: she plays like a girl – well, that is quite a compliment isn’t it? It means that this female athlete is strong and sure, rough and ready, astute and athletic. How far we have come!