I was 14 years old when I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but it was before then that I already had my reasons why.
On a rainy day in eighth grade, the P.E. classes were made to stay inside due to the weather. We had the entire gym to either play basketball or dodgeball. Or at least, the boys did. The girls were made to either play four square on the gym stage or board games out in the lobby. As someone who grew up playing basketball and was always happier with some sort of ball in my hand, I grew tired of this ritual rather quickly. I had always thought about trying to play with the boys, but never really had the courage to speak up. But on this day when faced with the reality of having to play Sorry! on the floor for 40 minutes, something rose up inside of me that filled me with enough anger to say something. It was probably the middle school hormones, but I knew something had to be said based on principle. I went up to one of the male coaches (picture a girl who had just grown into a 5’6” frame marching up to a man legitimately almost seven feet tall) and asked him if I could play basketball with the boys. He simply told me, “No.” Infuriated, I stormed back towards the lobby and turning around right before the door closed, I yelled louder than appropriate, “Sexist!”
To this day, I don’t know if that coach heard me or if he even cared. But that moment is one I play in my mind over and over again when I think about why I am pursuing sports journalism. Those kinds of situations I faced in my youth are what inspire me to work toward making the world of sports better for girls. I want to start conversations about why girls aren’t as interested in sports as boys and maybe that it’s because of the fact that they are denied the opportunity to learn about and play them in school. I want to fight for women’s sports coverage to increase and for them to be seen as important as men’s sports. I want to hold male players accountable for their abuse against women, whether they be reporters or significant others.
So if you want sports to remain a boy’s world where they can do what they want when they want, be careful of how you treat girls in sports environments. You might just inspire one to become a sports journalist with a mission.