Women flex ‘girl power’ in sports

In Opinion

A Judo fourth-degree black belt, olympic bronze medalist, two-time Pan-American champion and member of the Glendale Fighting Club: These accomplishments all come from a person who weighs 146 pounds, is 5 feet 4 inches tall and wears make-up.

This person is Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey, and she is the UFC’s first female bantamweight champion.

She has good looks and can probably kick your butt.

Rousey is just one of many female athletes dominating typically male-driven sports. Women have been discriminated in sports for far too long and it’s about time female athletes are recognized for being just as good as male athletes, sometimes better. Not only are many female athletes changing history, but they are also inspiring young girls.

Gender discrimination has been around since the beginning of athletic competitions.

The olympics, one of the most popular sporting events in the world, didn’t allow women to compete in competitions when it started in ancient Greece. Women watched events from afar instead of participating in them.

Thousands of years later, during the 2012 London Olympics, the International Olympic Committee finally acknowledged the impact women had in the games.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, said, “For the first time in Olympic history, all the participating teams will have female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality.”

Many well-known women throughout history have overcome obstacles of gender discrimination in sports and showed just how good female athletes can be. Jackie Joyner-Kersee got into track and field during the 1970s when men dominated in the sport. However, she never gave up on her dream of becoming a track star. Joyner-Kersee demonstrated determination and strength that ended up earning her multiple Olympic gold medals.

“You saw her and you got the idea of what a woman athlete should be,” Mia Hamm, a famous and highly respected soccer player, said in an interview with Sports Illustrated for Women. “At the time it seemed almost like she wasn’t responsible for just her sport, but for all of women’s sport.”

Fortunately, Joyner-Kersee began to participate in sports when Title IX was passed in 1972. This piece of legislation made a huge impact on women playing in sports by banning sexual discrimination in all schools that accept education funds.

Despite the increased participation, however, the media still covers more men in sports than women.

According to an article about gender discrimination written by Jean Cassel for LiveStrong.com, “In a study of four major newspapers—USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Orange County Register and the Dallas Morning news—women-only sports stories totaled just 3.5 percent of all sports stories.”

Still, young girls have the opportunity to look up to more inspirational female athletes than ever before. Many women are changing history and the future of sports.

Danica Patrick is another female athlete leaving a historic mark in normally male-dominated sports and altering the course of women in racing. Patrick became the first female driver in history to win a pole position for the Daytona 500 race.

Patrick, who used to be compared with other famous female athletes by reporters, realized her place in the history of women in sports.

“I do think the line of questioning has changed from that to being about me against other women to a lot more questions about my place as a woman in sports,” Patrick said in an interview with ESPN.com.

Even football may soon see women actually playing in games instead of standing in the sidelines. Women are no longer being looked at as someone to shout out cheers and hold pom-poms.

The NFL announced Lauren Silberman will be the first female to compete in a regional scouting combine. Silberman is a kicker for her college team and had no idea she was the first woman to be in the combine.

Silberman’s positive outlook on her endeavor is encouraging to young female athletes.

“Regardless of the outcome of the tryout, I hope there is a way I can contribute and strengthen the league,” Silberman said to NFL.com.

These women, and many other female athletes, give new meaning to the phrase “girl power.” Here’s hoping these women continue to not only be accepted, but also to be celebrated.

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