This article appeared in the April 01, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Covering the bases: What women offer men’s sports

Chris O'Meara/AP
Down judge Sarah Thomas smiles for the camera during the second half of Super Bowl LV, in Tampa, Florida, Feb. 7, 2021.
Noelle Swan
Weekly Editor

As a teacher, one of my least favorite phrases was “those who can’t, teach.” It implies educators must have washed out of the real world.

One of today’s stories puts that adage in a new, almost subversive, light. We meet Justine Siegal, who dreamed as a girl of playing professional baseball. She never got to test that dream because of her gender. Instead, she became the first female coach in Major League Baseball. 

That women are making inroads into men’s professional teams may seem curious. After all, women have their own leagues. But, from youth sports up through the pros, women’s sports are consistently undervalued by society. 

That second-tier status was on display during the NCAA championship, when Ali Kershner, a sports performance coach for Stanford University, posted shots of the weight room for the men’s teams and the single rack of barbells available to the women’s teams. The posts went viral, and the NCAA responded with a fully stocked weight room and an apology. 

I have encountered similar double standards as an assistant amateur boxing coach with USA Boxing. When a fighter I worked with won the New England Golden Gloves, we were told she would need to fundraise to pay both her way and her coaches’ to nationals in Florida. Had she been a male fighter, there would have been travel funding. 

Why does this matter? 

The world of sports is both a reflection and a driver of cultural trends. Seemingly small changes, like Sarah Thomas taking the field to referee the 2021 Super Bowl, send ripples of broader movement across society.

Professional sports is one of the few arenas that holds the attention of people from pretty much all walks of life. And fans love nothing more than watching people shatter the expectations of what is thought to be possible. 

This article appeared in the April 01, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/01 edition
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