Growing up as the only girl in a set of triplets, I wanted to do everything my brothers did. So when they signed up for football, what did I do? I had my parents sign me up right there with them.
When I started, I was only five years old, and I didn’t care that I was the only girl on the team. I thrived in that environment. I loved being a woman in a male-dominated sport. I thought I was the coolest girl ever.
After football ended, I knew I had to pick up another sport, so I played basketball — the sport that gave me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
After one season of basketball, I knew this was the one sport I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Yes, I still loved football, but this sport was different. It came naturally to me. So from that moment on, I chased my dreams and went after basketball.
But I never wanted to be a professional basketball player. I had different plans. When people would ask me what I wanted to do, I would say, “I want to be the first female head coach in the NBA.” They would look at me like I had seven heads. It drove me insane.
When a man coaches women, it’s normalized, but when a woman coaches men, people don’t understand why. They question her character and if she’s fit for the job.
Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant coach for San Francisco 49ers, was the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl. After ESPN announced this, the comments on social media were outrageous and disheartening.
In 2019, Rachel Balkovec was hired as the first female coach in MLB. But what you don’t know about her is that she applied for the same position the year before, using her legal name and stating that she played softball in college.
So what made her stand out this time? She went by Rae and left out the part about playing softball. Coincidence? I think not.
Last week, Bleacher Report reported that Jessica Mendoza will be the first female analyst in World Series history, and people were outraged and said she only got it because of her looks and that she’s a terrible analyst.
Although I love seeing women like Mendoza breaking barriers and trailblazing a way for the future generation, it’s 2020, and I’m still seeing that these women pioneers are just now getting their opportunity.
Doris Burke, who’s arguably one of the best basketball broadcasters and analysts in the sport, didn’t call her first NBA finals until September 2020.
I am so happy that these women are breaking barriers, but I would love it if this would be normalized. Yes, we should appreciate that women are getting more opportunities, but we’re nowhere close to equality in sports.
According to Quartz, “90 percent of anchors, commentators and editors are men. Not until 2017 did a woman announce a men’s March Madness or Monday Night Football game.”
Is it really because men are that much better than women, or is it because people hire people who look like them, and the truth is that people making the decisions are men?
I’m 20 years old, and the fact of the matter is I’m not sure if I’ll ever see as many women working in sports as men.
We are criticized daily. We overthink everything. We question if we’re fit for the job, and it’s time to stop. We need to have confidence in ourselves.
I want to live in a world where the United States Women’s National Team makes as much, if not more, as their male counterparts for being more successful than them. I want to live in a world where women aren’t questioned for their love of sports because of their gender.
In a world full of cants, be the person to show the world they can. I’m grateful for the women who have paved the way for me, and I hope to continue that throughout my own career.