Leveling the playing field

Friday, May 6, 2016

By Maryleigh Sharp

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “Maryleigh, you’re such a smart and talented girl. You have so much going for you. Yet, why do you know so much about sports? Isn’t that a guy thing?”

When I hear that comment, I sometimes reflect on something Nelson Mandela, a civil rights activist said, “Sports can create hope where once there was despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

This statement is a great example of how women are generalized to know nothing about sports.

Since I was 8 years old, I have been in love with sports. Whether it was basketball, football, hockey, or baseball, I had a passion to learn the names of the Philadelphia sports team members.

I got ridiculed for being a tomboy and it wasn’t easy trying to explain to another girl why the Pittsburgh Steelers run a 3-4 defensive scheme and not a 4-3.

And yes, I do know that means committing seven men close to the line of scrimmage except you substitute a D-lineman with a linebacker, who hopefully gives the defense more speed.

Men can talk sports to another guy or even a random one on the street, yet when we females know more than the color of a team’s jersey and the basic rule that you have four chances to go 10 yards, it’s like we take away a little bit of their manhood.

On April 2, I was waitressing and when going over to a table of men I saw watching the Villanova basketball game, I asked, “How do you guys feel about Ryan Arcidiacono’s performance last game against Kansas?”

“Sweetheart,” they replied. “We don’t need to hear you mess up.”

“Well,” I politely responded. “Arcidiacono had three rebounds, one assist, one steal, three fouls and one turnover. Oh and did you know that he scored over 1,000 points in his high school career? But since I don’t want to mess up I will tell you it was 1,088 actually. Have a great evening.”

Silence.

Some men, however, enjoy being with a female who can talk sports.

Adam Boehr, a student at West Chester University, and my best guy friend, loves when I talk sports to him.

“It is nice to have a girl’s perspective on things,” Boehr said. “It’s also nice that when we watch games on TV she doesn’t bother me until the commercials are on. She also isn’t on her phone at the game when we go to them.”

In 2016, it shouldn’t be which gender knows more about sports, it should be that all genders should come together and enjoy sports as one. Instead of being ridiculed and put down for my knowledge of sports, I should get some credit that I’m showing more interest than just knowing the difference between a tall and a grande Starbucks drink.

To all of you who think women can’t intelligently talk about sports, realize that sports, like Mandela said, literally levels the playing field for men and women.

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