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

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.

Misty Copeland

I believe it’s important to give credit where credit is due. So today, I’m giving credit to Misty Copeland for using dance to advocate for African-American rights, healthy eating, and inclusion.

Misty Copeland was the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She grew up in an unstructured home, consumed with poverty, and listening to music that doesn’t necessarily coincide with classically ballet – such as Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin. She didn’t even start dancing until she was 13 years old.

Copeland recently released her book “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.” She hopes that her readers feel that they have “an opportunity to start fresh no matter what age they are.” In her life as a public speaker, author, and dancer, she advocates for better food in grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, more diversity in big name dance companies, and going passed just having the conversation about different shapes and sizes being allowed to dance classically.

Along with her many other awards and accomplishments, Misty became the first classical dancer with a sports brand endorsement. She recently spoke against the CEO of said brand, Under Armor, who made comments endorsing Donald Trump. She wanted her fans to know her views and what she as a person stands for.

I for one am so proud of everything Misty Copeland has and will accomplish through her various platforms. She has paved the way for little black girls who want to be ballerinas and people everywhere who want to live healthier lives. Copland is spreading black girl magic all over the world.

Becca Longo

Women make history every single day for so many different reasons, and we create a lot of “firsts” in this country. This is no different for Becca Longo, a senior at Basha High School. Becca has been a star player on her school’s football team since her sophomore year. Longo is headed to Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado to play football on scholarship. Becca Longo is believed to be the first female to ever sign a letter of intent to play college football at a Division 2 school in the country. Only about a dozen women have played college football before Becca but none with an NCAA scholarship.

Of course she has received support from all over the world having women and men alike encourage her to follow her dreams, but Longo receives negative reactions all the time. Men tell her that football is a boy’s spot,t and she should find something else to occupy her time.

In spite of those who don’t believe in her talent, Longo is truly breaking barriers and paving the way for young girls who will one day aspire to play a “boy’s sport”. Becca says she would tell little girl who aspire to pay football to do what they want to do despite what anyone else says.

I’m motivated and moved by Becca’s courage and her will to keep pushing despite the opposition that comes her way. She is showing the world that women can and will play any sport we want and that we are capable of keeping up with men in the world of sports. I wish her well in her endeavors.