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Imani, Sports, or the lack there of.

This is the post excerpt.

Here’s the thing:

My name is Imani Harris. I’m a sophomore Public Relations major with a minor in Black Studies. I love singing, eating, reading, and pretending to be a fitness enthusiast. I’m super involved on my college campus just as I was in high school BUT…

The catch is: I have NEVER played a sport in my life. PE was never my favorite thing (I preferred music and art), and although athleticism is in my genes, I had no desire to play on any sports team….ever. I was apart of show choir for seven years, which is the closest thing to athletic that I have ever been in my life. So when given the task of creating a blog site specifically centered around sports, I was anxious and unprepared to say the least.

After a few days of contemplating and brainstorming, I realized that I could use my love for women, being a woman, and being a black woman specifically to my advantage wth this blog. With that being said, my posts will be centered around black women in the sports field. That could range from the wives of male athletics to black. female olympic gold medalists. It is my hope to write blogs that will spark more interest in women’s sports and support black women athletes. Representation truly matters, so I hope my readers will get insight and inspiration from my posts. Let’s see how this goes!

 

Closing Thoughts

My initial goal was to write every single one of my blogs about black women in sports. As you can see, that was very hard. There is not a lot of news coverage or breaking news on black women in sports, which is a problem within itself. I never imagined that I’d be writing stories on sexual assault, special needs women in sports, or the history of women in sports. I have learned more about women in the sports world, how I view sports, and about the world in relation to women than I ever thought I would. I’ve found passion, fight, grace, glory, and so much struggle in this blog. Women are truly marvelous and have made their own way when it comes to the world of sports. I am more inspired and encouraged than ever to pursue what I want even in opposition. I won’t let the end of MCJ 203 keep me from continuing my search and my fight for equality in the world of sports. All in all, this experience has changed me a little. Thank you to everyone who read, liked, or shared my sports blog. Your commitment to me is refreshing and moving. I hope we all continue to fight together. Thank you.

-Imani in sports

Jane Claire Arender

The last and final woman who inspired me through sports was Jane Claire Arender. Arender is a freshman, public relations major from Brandon, MS. She didn’t play any type of sports until she arrived at the University of Southern Mississippi. Through her sorority involvement, she was forced to get her feet wet with intramural sports.

Arender plays coed and all girl intramural sports. She plays coed softball, basketball, softball, dodgeball, and soccer. Arender said she gets annoyed because the Recreation and Sports department at USM places different stipulations on the coed intramural games.

For instance, in softball you have to under hand the ball and pitch it slow pitch. You start the game with one strike automatically, so they take away the idea of “three strikes ur out”. There also has to be a strict rotation of “boy, girl, boy, girl” when playing.

“They go easier on us because we’r girls, which sort of takes some of the fun out of the games. I believe their is equal opportunity for boys and girls in intramural sports at USM but the coed games are definitely bias toward making girls feel more comfortable playing with guys,” Arender said.

I never pegged JC as a sports girl anyway, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out she played intramurals. I’m proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone and into the world of sports, despite if there may be some biases involved.

McKenna Bryant

The next woman that inspired me to write about women in sports is McKenna Bryant. McKenna is a freshman, political science major from Hattiesburg, MS. She plans to be the president of the United States one day. Besides her political aspirations, McKenna has been dancing since she was a little girl. Her two older sisters inspired her to participate in dance and gymnastics.

Bryant said she hates when people say “dancing is not a sport”.

“I most definitely believe dancing is a sport, it requires the utmost physicality, athleticism, and hard work and dedication. Dancing requires just as many physical skills and just as many practices as any other sport to attain such skills,” Bryant said.

She’s also not a fan of how men are seen as more feminine when they choose to dance. She thinks that dancing requires an extraordinary amount of strength that men and women both possess. Bryant believes it is important not to put a “gender” on sports.

We’ve made a heap of progress when it comes to equality in sports, but McKenna gave me a new perspective to think about. In some sports labeled “for women only”, men deal with some of the same identity and equality issues as women in predominantly male sports. We should all be working to erase stigmas in the sports world, so that everyone can play whatever sport they want to without backlash.

Sydney Ruzicka

“I think above all, girls sports are perceived less as a sport, easier than guy sports, and are expected to be played at a less intense level.”

As a tribute to a few amazing women I met during my sophomore year of college, I’d like to end my blog by blogging about them. First up: Sydney Ruzicka.

Sydney is a freshman, public health administration major from Kiln, MS where she attended Hancock High School. She played basketball for the Hancock Lady Hawks for three years. Ruzicka started playing basketball in first grade. She said that when she started playing sports, she was in the 6-7 age group and it was coed.

“Gender really didn’t matter at this age, we were all uncoordinated and all struggled to even hit the rim of the goal,” Ruzicka said.

Ruzicka’s comments about the sport’s world reminded me of my sentiments of every aspect of our society – men are privileged to be men and are given special treatment. Ruzicka said her team was treated as less skilled and not taken as serious as the boys basketball team. The guys received a lot more funding and recognition than girl’s sports at her high school.

I for one am proud of Ruzicka for pushing through negative comments and regards to women in sports and doing what she loves. I’ve been a victim of her awesome talent in basketball, and I love her for her strength and courage! #GirlPower

Nastase, Serena, and a new baby!

SERENA WILLIAMS IS PREGNANT!

She and her future husband are expecting their first child. There is talk of retirement in her future in order to take care of her family. While most of the world is excited for this new adventure, there are some who choose to bring negativity to Serena’s life in lieu of her pregnancy.

Ilie Nastase made racist comments about Williams’ unborn baby including asking, “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” This comment was an attack on her baby and the fact that Serena’s fiancé is not black. Nastase was also accused of sexual harassment infused comments toward Serena’s fellow women teammates.

Nastase is is a Romanian former world number one professional tennis player. He was one of the world’s top players of the 1970s. He was ranked world number one from August 23, 1973 to June 2, 1974. But even his outstanding tennis record can’t keep him away from the backlash he’s receiving from making racist and sexist comments about women. He isn’t being invited to the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year after his comments made at last month’s Fed Cup tie against Great Britain. He verbally abused a player from an opposing team and was kicked out of the game.

I for one am glad that Nastase is being treated the way anyone should be treated when after verbally abusing players and making inappropriate comments towards women. I’m glad his high ranking status isn’t keeping him away from appropriate punishment. Congratulations to Serena on her baby and not letting her encounter with this man ruin her news!

 

Japanese Women in Sports

As a black woman in America, diversity has taken on a new level of importance in my life. Although it’s necessary in my life, it’s important for me to acknowledge that other minorities need diversity and face discrimination as well. This is the same for the Japanese Americans.

In the early 1900s, the Japanese American basketball leagues were formed as a reaction to the discrimination this group faced. Japanese-Americans were often banned from participating in American public life, including playing on teams or even using gyms.

Laura Bonz Otsuki, a Japanese-American, asked the Buddhist Church in San Francisco in 1960 to start a girls’ basketball team. There was a boy’s time of course, but she and her friends wanted to play as well. The team started for girls is now a significant part of JA leagues in San Francisco.

Just like any other minority, the Japanese had to create their own section of the sports world before they were allowed to be a part of the normalized sports world. Women and men alike had to break the stereotype that Japanese people were too short and thin to play sports. Lindsey Yamasaki was the first Japanese-American to enter the WNBA in 2002. She is 6-foot-2 and half-Japanese, half-white. Others before her tried and were counted out. I’m glad the world is allowing more diversity in the sports world, and I’ equally as glad that women get to be a part of that!

Indiana University: Sexual Assault Policy

While sexual assault in the sports world deserves way more media coverage and action attached to said coverage, it certainly is refreshing to read news about colleges making strides to protect their students.

While the legislation is very limited as far as what counts against sexual assault perpetrators, Indiana University announced that it will refuse student-athlete applicants convicted for or with a history of sexual assault. This is definitely an ethical move for Indiana but a good PR tactic as well seeing that the school was under fire in the past for administrative staff being accused of sexual assault. Critics believe that this may just be a move in the interest of recruiting for the university and not a safety precaution for the students.

I believe the benefits in this case may outweigh the negative comments. Students will feel protected knowing that those who have committed sexual assault crimes will not be a part of the community of glorified athletes on their campus. Indiana also has programs in place to protect students from sexual assault in general. I do believe the new policy should be rewritten to include sections about when athletes are accused of sexual assault and already have an athletic scholarship. The university definitely needs to revisit the topic to broaden the safety aspect of it, but all in all, I’m grateful that strides such as this one are being made in the area of sexual assault on college campuses.