I play basketball for my school’s varsity team. High school sports are funny and interesting and extremely exhilarating. Am I extremely busy and often stressed from schoolwork? Yes. Do I still choose to dedicate most if not all of my evenings to basketball? Yes. For me, it keeps me sane. It gives me a space to let go of overthinking and just be immersed in something larger than myself. However, I think my understanding of the “something larger than myself” is extremely skewed. This is because I am a woman. Every day, I walk onto the court and I am reminded that I mean nothing to my school. The stands are empty despite our awesome record, yet they fill up after halftime because the boys’ game will be starting soon. The cheerleaders don’t cheer at our own home games when the boys’ team isn’t playing. And then there are the little things like the boys getting nicer warmup jumpsuits. The little things like walking through the hallways and hearing “I got money on y’all losing tonight.” “Don’t you go to this school?” I think.
The thing that hurts most is that this is normal. This is worldwide. This is happening on a much more severe level in the women’s college and professional leagues every single day. Just a few days ago, a high-profile college basketball Thanksgiving tournament, the Las Vegas Invitational, completely mistreated the women’s teams in attendance. They played their games in a hotel conference room. They weren’t provided with towels during their games. One player even had to wait 40 minutes for paramedics after hitting her head during a game.
On the professional level, there is a misconception that players in the WNBA are demanding to be paid the same salaries as players in the NBA. This logistically wouldn’t make sense, since the NBA is much larger due to the number of teams and its age; the games bring in much more revenue at the moment, and thus it is impossible to pay WNBA players the same extremely high salaries as NBA players get. However, what does make sense is paying them the same percentage of revenue that NBA players get.
This is just in basketball. Think of politics, social media, gymnastics, business, etc. Every day, young girls and women are told by society’s actions that we don’t mean as much as men do. I think the solution lies in our education; our education on the history of women’s role in society and how that has impacted modern expectations. Where do you think the solution lies? Tell us in the comments below.