I was provoked to write a little article on this because of Shannon Szabados, the gold medal olympic Canadian athlete who just signed a contract with the Southern Professional Hockey League. She became the first woman player to be signed in the league’s history in its 10 year history. It’s raising eyebrows, and personally I find this to be pretty exciting.
Limiting the field of athletes to 50% of people is a crucial flaw of sports, as it drastically reduces the interest of sports in females and gives many little to no hope of becoming a professional (even more than the already slim chances for men). It may not be Jackie Robinson signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers to break the color barrier, but allowing a female to enter a physically demanding sport such as hockey is a significant step in the right direction.
The usual argument given against such an adoption of players resides in what is most important, their skill. Let’s not dance around the fact, women, on average, are less muscular and therefore less skilled then men. Except that being muscular isn’t all that goes into being an athlete. Dustin Pedroia is a man well below 6 feet who is built to be a postman more than an athlete, but is a far better player than a living legend like Michael Jordan was at baseball. Games rely on skill more than athleticism, so even by the logic that women are so much frailer and therefore unable to play in such environments is ridiculous.
Women athletes also aren’t frail! Watch a hockey or basketball game. They’re far faster paced, but crowds dislike the lack of hitting or lateral distance. Either way, the pace of the game and the ability to play several games in a row is there, as durability doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Very athletic women exist, but are unable to sign with bigger teams because of the lack of scouts, lack of attention and most of all: lack of respect. The inability to let others play a game based on the fact they have a different reproductive organ is appalling.
This isn’t to say the split should be 50/50, as there are less female athletes that should make it based purely on skill. However, the lack of any women whatsoever is, well, as I’ve said, ridiculous. The number would be a lot closer if women were given any hope of a multi-million dollar industry like professional sports. 10 million dollars a year would certainly influence me into a career.
All this is to say that women shouldn’t be on professional sports teams because they’re women, but because there are very capable female athletes.
An example, in baseball, Jackie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (two of the top hitters to have ever lived) consecutively. Ruth made a comment with a demeanor that I alluded to earlier — a lack of respect.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day.”
It saddens me that people still feel like this. Women can do any sport to the possible exception of American Football, though this has more to do with the lack of necessary skill and more need for just brute force.
No matter your opinion, join me in praising Shannon Szabados as being a person willing to take the blunt of the team’s attention from media.