This week will have guest bloggers from my Sociology Senior Seminar on Public Sociology.
On Saturday, September 7th of 2019, it was once again reinforced that women’s sports are less important than men’s sports, and in this particular instance, the dogma that football reigns over everything. University of Maine and Temple University traveled close to a combined 1,300 miles to play a neutral division one field hockey game at Kent State University beginning at 9 a.m. On this same day, the Kent State football team had a game scheduled for 12:00 p.m., with fireworks set to go off just before the start time. The field hockey game was a very competitive one, resulting in overtime play. However, due to the firework safety policy, Kent State administrators came onto the field at 10:30 a.m. to end the match due to the safety code of the fireworks. While both teams were told in May that the game would have to conclude at 10:30 a.m., neither teams thought the game would have to come to an immediate close, causing the game to be eliminated from their records due to an inconclusive score. Although Kent State offered to allow them to finish the game later that evening and pay for the extra costs of accommodation, there is a significant underlying issue this example has further perpetuated.
Women have had to fight for their rights and to be viewed as equal for a very long time. Every time I begin to think women have made strides in their fight for equality, stories like these remind me of the lengths still to come. When considering athletics, this is one sector in which women have had to fight hard to be viewed as worthy of competition like their male counterparts. Some may argue that this is because women sports were introduced later than men sports, however, that should not be an excuse for the time period in which we are currently in.
Title IX was created in 1972, prohibiting “sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid” (“Title IX Legislative Chronology”). While some, particularly men, do not believe there are any injustices against women, whether that be from lack of education or arrogance, this federal law specifically indicates that injustices against women are absolutely real and recognizable in so many different ways. If it were not present, there wouldn’t be a need for this type of law.
When thinking personally about how issues of sports and gender have been present in my life, I can’t help but think about my high school experience. I attended an all-girls high school, so I was never introduced to the neglect of female sports, but instead female sports meant everything. Because of this, I can recognize how some individuals might not understand why there is a need to correct how male and female sports are viewed, discussed, and acted upon in society due to the lack of exposure they have had with the topic. However, it is 2019 and unfortunate incidents like this are still occurring and it greatly affects the way women think about their respective sports, and if their efforts are even worth all of the criticism and lack of importance they receive. I can confidently say my fellow field hockey teammates at Centre College felt disrespected and discouraged from what took place at Kent State just last week.
To conclude, there is one thought I myself and others have reflected upon from this incident. Would this have occurred if it were the men’s soccer team playing? This is a question that I’m confident would receive varying answers. However, I myself cannot help but believe the answer is no. No, the men’s soccer game would have been allowed to continue their play without any repercussions. My framework for answering this question is based off of the many situations currently in 2019, within sports, but also in other sectors, where women have been viewed as less than men and unimportant. Men’s sports have always been more appreciated, especially at the division one level, and this dogma is exactly what Kent State exemplified to women last week. What do you think?