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

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.

White House or No White House?

Athletes all over the country have been turning down White House visits being that Donald Trump is now the President of the U.S. His campaign evoked hate and fear in the hearts of many Americans and notable athletes have boycotted the prestigious invitations for the past few months because of it.

NCAA women’s basketball champion Dawn Staley, coach of South Carolina, says she would accept an invitation to the White House if offered. Dawn Staley is an American basketball hall of fame player and a coach. She is a three-time Olympian and was elected to carry the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Staley has been to the White House before, and I’m sure she would love for her team to have that opportunity. She and her team believe the invite would be a once in lifetime chance and would go with no regards of Trump.

Many will probably say that Staley being a woman of color should follow suit of other athletes and make her team dismiss the opportunity, but thankfully it’s not up to them. I have my personal opinion of our new president, but despite those, I would have to agree that a White House Visit is a true honor.

I hope that the opportunity is presented to these women, because they deserve all the recognition and rewards any other athletic team would receive! Congrats to the women of the South Carolina basketball team!

 

Anastasia Hayes

While women don’t get nearly as much recognition in the sports world as we deserve, I’ve found that one of the sports we actually get credit in is basketball. The awards and recognition most of the time is centered around black women. In my search for my next honoree, I stumbled across an article on Anastasia Hayes.

Anastasia is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee and is a part of the Riverdale High School basketball team. On Monday, she was named the 2016-17 Gatorade player of the year for Tennessee. Next year, she’ll be heading to Rocky Top as part of the best recruiting class in the country.

She has played in 97 games during her varsity career, averaging about 20 points per game with 1,993 points in total. Along with the Gatorade Player of the Year award, Hayes was named Riverdale Miss Basketball and is a McDonald’s All-American!

Women like Hayes make me want to work so much harder in perfecting my craft. Not in sports, but in life in general. I appreciate her contribution to the sports world and wish her nothing but the best as she pursues a college career in basketball!

 

Rape Culture is Alive: Women in Sports

I would be remised if I didn’t highlight this topic in my blog about women in sports, because it is important and it deserves to be talked about. In our society rape and sexual assault are topics many fail to adequately talk about with young girls, which makes it harder for them to deal with it. We pretend it doesn’t happen, so when it does, some women are too ashamed to talk about it. Rape and sexual assault undeniably happens to men and women alike in the sports world, but the first time I was ever introduced to the topic publicly was a few years ago.

Larry Nassar, 53, was accused publicly of having assaulted dozens of young women, most of the cases disguised as medical treatment. Nasser worked at Michigan State for about twenty years as a team physician. He also worked with USA Gymnastics during the same time frame. This man has clearly worked very closely with women, giving him several opportunities to commit crimes against them. At this point, up to 69 women have accused him of some form of sexual assault. Last month, Nassar was accused of deleting evidence of child pornography that would’ve been used to convict him of his crimes. He faces up to a lifetime in prison.

The funny things is I haven’t read or heard anything else about Nassar’s case since it first opened. Something as big as this should be constantly in the news reminding sexual assault victims that if they tell their stories, justice can be obtained. Rape culture is still alive and well today, and it’s time we dealt with it openly, publicly, and viscously. It is very easy for a man or women to disguise sexual assault as medical treatment when working closely with the female population in the sports world. Cases like this staying in the public eye could help save the mental and spiritual lives of lots of women just trying to prove themselves in sports.

Girls: if you know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, whether it’s a friend or yourself, don’t be afraid to tell someone. You deserve justice.