Girls playing with the Boys, and Boys playing with the Girls
On the athletic field, in the gym, or on the ice, there have always
been standards for the athletes to follow. These standards range from
what type of athletic equipment is not only necessary but appropriate,
to who can play when, where, and how. This last standard is the one
that is being challenged the most; can men play not only on women’s
teams, but can they also participate in female dominated sports without
being taunted? The same goes for women, can females, without fear,
really participate in traditionally male dominated sports? Although the
social costs to the individual participating in the non-traditional
sport are many, the benefits, if played well and correctly, can be and
are quite plentiful as well.
For men, this desire to participate in traditionally female dominated sports is not quite as great as it is for females. This is because, honestly, men have a wealth of opportunities for athletics, whether it be professional or not, for every one chance women have. But, in the case that a male does want to participate in a female dominated sport, he will have a hard time being accepted, not necessarily by his female teammates, but by the society watching the sport. Traditionally, male athletes are supposed to be in rough and tumble sports. They are supposed to be hard bodied, passionate about the game, and willing to play no matter what the circumstances. Most female sports, even the female counterpart of a male sport, is less rough and tumble and less aggressive than male sports. For a man to participate in one of these sports he is likely to get laughed off the field, taunted with jeers of “homo” and suggestions that he is “not man enough” to play with the “real men” in traditionally male dominated sports. This can not only be damaging to the male playing, but it can also be damaging to the women playing. The jeers could become aimed at the women on the field or the ice and they could hint that women are not only incapable to play, but that since they need a man to join their team to help them, they obviously do not belong anywhere but on the sidelines.
This previous example is probably a little extreme, but the ideas behind it are quite real. Imagine a man walking onto the deck of a swimming pool, ready to compete in synchronized swimming. The expected first impression would be, “what the…?” because men are not supposed to be synchronized swimmers. There may not be jeers taunted at him, and he may not get made fun of, but he is not looked upon favorably by those watching the event. If, however, he is looked upon favorably, in whatever female dominated sport he is participating, the benefits could be plenty. Imagine the publicity the team would get, not to mention the only man on the team! The endorsements for athletic equipment, shoes, and many other things could support him for the rest of his life after just one year of playing. Being the only man on a professional or Olympic level team could potentially lead to more opportunities for endorsements and such than being just another member of a men’s team. This may seem well and good, but when a man “makes it big” playing for a women’s team, there is always the question and suggestion that he should then go play with the big boys. With this in mind, it is easy to see that a male’s opportunity for continual benefits from playing on a women’s team are slim. Again, this is something that is not very common for men at the professional level, or even at an amateur level because of the fact that men have more opportunities to play than women.
Women, on the other hand, often want to participate in, not only traditionally male dominated sports because, at least now there are female counterparts for them, but they want to “play with the big boys” as well. For a female to “break into” a male sport is probably one of the most difficult parts of actually being an athlete. The main argument that is used almost regardless of the sport for women participating in traditionally male dominated sports is that the female body is not made to correctly function while participating. Also, the idea that the women will lose their femininity if they play with men is another reason to keep them off the field and out of the ring. For women to be taken seriously in a male dominated sport they have to not only be the best female in the ring, gym, or wherever, they also have to be the best overall athlete.
Traditionally, women are thought of as more fragile, and less
aggressive than men. With this in mind, it is clear the reasons why it
is so difficult for women to participate in male dominated sports. The
costs to a woman playing with a man in the ring or on the field are
more numerous than simply getting laughed at and called names. Usually,
to really see the extent to which women can take playing with the boys,
the men will usually play their hardest, if not harder in an attempt to
push the women to their limits and eventually make them quit. Also,
since the woman is in a male dominated sport, the chances that there
are other females out there helping “the cause” are very small which
makes it even harder for her to be taken seriously.
The benefits for a woman in a man’s sport however are probably some of the greatest out there. She will not only most likely be the star and the sweetheart of the team, but she will also most likely get the most attention both in and out of the game. Also, the endorsements for a woman playing with men are unimaginable, especially with all the feminists behind her and supporting her, she will most likely never have to worry about money again. The one problem with all of this though, is that she will probably have to be defending her sexuality constantly from those that think all female athletes are gay. However, if any woman can get through the taunting, and succeed in a male dominated sport, then she truly will have “made it” in the world of athletics.
For men and women to participate in sports not traditionally dominated by their sex is probably a lot more difficult at first than would seem worth it, but in the end it could be a major stepping stone into the world of athletics as well as the rest of society. The costs to both seem, at first, almost insurmountable, but once they have become versed in the ways of the sport, the benefits out rule it all.
08/01/2005, from a Reader on the Web
I am an african american FEMALE, who plays football. I started at the age of 5 when i played on a 6 yr old BOY TEAM. when i first started yea, it was harsh but as i got older boys became scared of me and girls didnt even look at me unless they were my friends because they knew who i was!!!! I was the best player on the team amd recieved a lot of MVP's. people shouldn't discriminate agaist girl(women) because girls "some" girls r as tough as boys. sure i had lil boyfriends and i still did girl thing but dont juge a girl by what they look like, because i could be the prettiest girl but also the "one who knows how to take care of business! till' this day noone messes with me or even THINKS about "tryin'" to pick on me even though i may not look like a football player i AM one! Sincxe i am omly 13 i still have lots to accomplish and i say yeah to ALL the girls who think they can handle the sport!!!!!!!!!!!!1 P.S- on my team after the games boys couldn't even tell i was a girl until' i took my helment off becouse i was that good, i am not afraid to brake a nail and i am not preppy i am "a football playin' female repin' all da guhs!!!!!GET THAT?!?!?!?!?
I am 14 years old and so into football... many people see its as strange (mostly females) but many other people (mostly males) think its cool. Its not that i wanna play with the "big boys" as your article states. I just like to play football. I am not trying to prove myself in anyway.. i just wanna play. What i'm trying to say is i disagree with the argument why females play male teams.
there is no way that a girl can play football especially in the Texas 5A district I mean they would get killed. Plus I have played football with a girl and its weird it feels like u have to go easy on them or something.their also very dramatic and they might hurt themselfs ... Brennan Deuel, 15 May 2006
I love Football I have loved it forever! But I can't play on the team. I am in 8th grade and I am 14 I think that I can make up my mind if I want to play!! But the school sead that they don't want me to get hert! Give me a break I love football I can thow better then all the boys in my gym class. The boys think that I am not good enoph but give me a team and a football and I will show you what I can do! Even my dad sead that I am really good at home I have my own football and half the boys at school don't. So why can't I play?!?!?! ... Stephanie Garnett, 18 October 2006
i am 13 years old and i love to play football but my school wont let firls try out for football. i am really disappointed that i cant try out. i have also been told a number of times that i am a great thrower and sometimes a good chatcher. i would love to start playing football ... Falysha Raymond, 19 October 2006
WOW, what a great artical, congrats! all of it is so true...personally i think boys and girls should be able to participate in whichever sport, whenever and with who! it would be fantastic to see one day, during prime time, on a prime television station, a male dominated sport being played by females and gettin gthe same amount of surport as male sports do today ... Brooke, 9 November 2006
i am a 16 yr old girl that plays rugby and wrestles, because im interested in it and enjoy contact sports, Iv only been playin for two years and was introduced to it through my highschool. I wasn't treated differently by my friends and have continuously practised with the boys rugby team and wrestled with guy in practise. Im not particulary gifed in athletics, but just do it for fun and to stay in shape, and society has changed to accept females in contact sports ... Reader on the web, 5 December 2006
hey ya i think its so ture what the girls wrote we should be aloud to play football caus im a female and i love to play football iv been playing since i was 5 im 16 now and i still play. no girls think about messing me with and well u get know know alot of guys and they are cool about me playing with them they love it one year i didnt play cuz i broke a arm and they missed me ... Lee-Anna, 6 February 2007
I agree with the first person because most girls are tough like boys! I want to play football but the coaches are against it! I also love wrestling to but thier is no teams and of course the coaches won't let me try out! Any ways I soooooo agree with u! P.S girls are just as tough as boys! ... Elizabeth, 10 April 2007
Hi i am a female,some people think tht football is a game for boys only but is not,i am an african i love playing football but here in Cameroon most dont play i often play with the boys so i get stronger ,y dad supports me but my mom dont even think of it so i am pleading with any one who reads this which can help in any way to jon my fellow girls play should just mail me please ... Taka gina lor, 21 July 2007
I am 18 years old, and am currently coaching an all boys hockey team. I have been playing hockey from the time i was 5 and couldn't be happier. Yes i was playing on a all boys team for 12 years, but i think that it made me better at the sport becasue, i was challenged. I loved playing the sport and made some amazing friend threw it. I tried playing for a girls team but i missed my "boys". yes they do get pissed when they realize a girl just knocked them on thier butt but on the other hand it gave me more confidence as a girl playing a boy sport! MUCH LOVE! ... Stephanie, 12 November 2007
Im 14 years old and love to wrestle!! when i say i want to wrestle with the school!! they told me no cause i was a girl!! theres a couple of wrestling teams in the town that i live in!! but my parents say the only way i can is if i wrestle with the sschool team!! if there are other schools that r like mine i think its bull that they wont let u!! im already one of the girls that most people look at like o dont mess wit her!! ive wrestled before but now that im older i cant wrestle wit the clubs! but i hope i have a chance wit sumthing!! ... Page Slater, 13 November 2007
I have played soccer fo rthe last 8 years of my life and girls have been on my teams for my whole soccer "career" i dont see the problem with girls on my team i also wrestle and do cross country on my cross country team my best friend is tougher than i am when it comes to a pace and this is my first year wrestling and last year there was a girl on our team that lost only one of her matches and i have lost all of mine so anyone has no right to say that girls arent as tought as the men. i'm only 12 years old and i have many friends that play way harder in many sports that i play i think girls can play any sport they want to ... Austin, 6 December 2007