How a positive mindset can empower female athletes

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Kaylee Aguilar

Megan Rapinoe, Simone Biles and Serena Williams are all examples of famous female athletes who have helped create a presence of women in sports. The Sidekick staff writer Nanette Pottoore thinks women-centric sports receive less attention than men-centric sports and investigates the reasoning behind the fact.

Nanette Pottoore, Staff Writer

During winter break, my brother and I attended a sports tournament my local church held every two years. I played volleyball, while my brother played basketball. It was a tournament where high schoolers came from all over the nation to compete for the championship.

Both the volleyball and basketball competition would occur simultaneously. Halfway into the rushed volleyball competition, it was cut short by an executive official. Upon asking why, he responded:

“More people would rather watch basketball than volleyball.”

Even though there was the same amount of people watching volleyball as basketball. 

Many girls traveled from afar to play and now could not. The official shrugged it off, saying, “That’s just how life is, sorry.”

In the age of equality, there still seems to be little in sports. 

“It’s sad because it’s known that women’s sports aren’t recognized at the same level, yet there is not much being done about it,” said senior Akshara Ganesh, who used to play soccer for the Coppell girls team. “It’s hard to ignore what’s happening because you would think by the 21st century that there would be more equality, but there’s not.” 

However there is awareness for equality, thanks to influential celebrities. The late basketball legend Kobe Bryant was known for fiercely denying the need to have a son to carry his basketball legacy, commenting that his daughters are just as great as he is. 

I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad,”

— Kobe Bryant

In doing so, Bryant was able to empower many young girls aspiring to become athletes, bringing attention to the negative mindset society has towards women in sports. He was able to pave the way for fathers to lift up their daughters’ athletic abilities. 

The fight for equality in sports is still prevalent, as many female athletes are still facing discrimination. 

Major accomplishments, such as World Cups, are not as acknowledged for women as they are for men. 

For example, the United States Women’s National Basketball Team won the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, making this the country’s 10th gold medal awarded since 1953. There was little coverage over its win. However, there was more coverage of when the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team lost against Serbia in the FIBA World Cup in 2019. 

The U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) has won four World Cups, whereas the men’s best World Cup finish is third place in 1930. Despite the USWNT’s internationally recognized titles, many belittle the USWNT especially on social media on the basis that they are women, and women are physically weaker than men, therefore their wins are not at the same level. It goes to show that women have to push themselves harder to receive validation. 

It’s not just soccer, women in any sport have been unfairly compared to their male counterparts.  

When introducing male championship titles, athletes are referred to as the “best player in the world.” However, female athletes are introduced with their gender incorporated in the title. 

“One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the ‘world’s greatest female athletes’,” tennis player Serena Williams said. “Do they say [NBA star LeBron James] is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is [PGA golfer Tiger Woods]? [Tennis champion Roger Federer]? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.”

 By adjusting the mindset towards women in sports, several stereotypes can be broken down step by step. 

“I definitely feel like there’s inequality in the attitude between men’s sports and women’s sports,” Coppell senior Ria Kannad said. “Even when there is a rise among girls in sports, the thinking that society has is still instilled in people’s minds that women’s sports are not at the same level as men’s sports, and that’s the issue.”

The attitude towards female athletes and their respective sports needs to improve. Sports can offer a sense of empowerment and inspiration for young girls. However, the way society portrays women in sports currently can negatively affect the mindset towards women in sports. 

Let’s change that. 

Support women’s sports by recognizing female athletes. It can be as small as attending local matches. In doing so, it breaks the barrier to gender equality. Don’t erase women in sports.

Empower them.

Follow Nanette Pottoore (@nanettepottore) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.