In athletics, the hard work, drive and dedication of girls has proven to mirror that of boys. Just because you are a boy or girl does not mean your love for sports is not evident. However, one difference between both genders is their ability to take things personally on or off the court. I am aware that there are multiple beliefs about this, yet this is what I have observed through experience. Boys are able to scream and yell at each other, yet still be best buddies after the game, acting like nothing ever happened. Girls on the other hand usually stay mad and hold grudges, assuming the words or actions that occurred during the game follow them once the game is over.
Being a female athlete had never bothered me before high school. It was never a big deal to show fire or behave competitively. From my years of playing club soccer, I expected that all the smack talk and intensity that girls threw out at each other are just part of playing a sport. That too never bothered me, until recently I ran into an incident, where I did not appreciate what was being said and assumed about me.
I went to a rival football game and for the first three quarters I cheered on my home team, as they were leading almost the whole game. I told my friends of the opposing team, that I would come see and hang out with them during the fourth quarter. Once I was over with them, I quickly recognized one of the girls from their school’s girls basketball team. I said, Hi, and in return, I got nothing but the cold shoulder from her. It felt like she scowled at me the whole time.
My friend right away made the statement that she does not like me at all and thinks that I am a “mean girl.” I guess people can make their assumptions, but I could not figure out why she had so much hatred for me. My friend again told me it was because of the way I play basketball.
I could not believe it. Why was I being judged for the person I am while on the court? I may go hard and fight for the victory for my team, but that does not resemble who I am off the court. Yeah, I can foul hard, rip my elbows aggressively on rebounds and push a little on post defense, but it would never stop me from lending a hand out and helping you up. It was the fact that she could not even give me the time of day to explain myself either. I do not hold anything against her, or young ladies that go hard against me. I respect that it is a basketball game and athletes will be athletes within the bounds of a basketball court. It is how you respond after the whistle blows with an extended hand or a postgame congratulations. People are competitive, and therefore tough personas appear. I would almost be offended if she did not think I went hard during a game.
I am not asking her to become my new best friend; what I am asking her is why she thinks I am an unkind person, just merely based on what I am like playing sports. Why must girls assume that I have cruel intentions wherever I go, beyond physical play? Boys for the most part are cool about it afterwards. I understand that maybe at a higher level such as the NBA there might be some players that do not like each other. Even there though, as a player to player, one cannot hate on someone because of what they are like on the court, rather you have to judge someone by what they are like off the court, by the person they really are. Why could not the girl from my rival school do this either?
Maybe this experience has pointed out to me even the greater difference between guys and girls because now I am being one of those girls that is taking a situation off the court. I cannot seem to let go of the fact that someone is perceiving me by how I play a sport.
I was talking with one of my teammates about this recently, and I left out my opinion on purpose. Then she began complaining about how one of our opponents hit her hard, ending saying that she was a really mean girl. The story sounded familiar, so I asked if that same girl who hit her, had asked her to go out after the game for ice cream or something, if she would go. Her response, No way, I do not ever want to talk to her. So perhaps this is just me and my perspective of what I think is right or wrong. I still believe that within sports no one person should be judged and I am sure there are tests out there that prove the difference in people while they are playing.
I might be ferocious while in the mindset of basketball, but I can guarantee you, my intentions are never for anyone to want to continue to hate me even after the play. Sports are made to be fun and have fun, and I firmly believe that they should bring out the best in people, and it makes me sad that some girls cannot get over the idea that going hard in a game does not always sum up a girl on the outside. My hope for the future is that all athletes–females and males–will be able to see this reality and work to fix it. In the end, I hope I can brighten my own teammates perspective too.