With the US Women’s Soccer team continuing to make headlines in their fight for equal pay, we would like to think that progress has been made across the board for gender equality in sports. Yet, those hopes were set back this past fall sports season, when Kent State University decided to end a Division I Field Hockey double overtime game with no winner at 10:30am in order to set off fireworks for the Kent State football game on time at 12pm. This certainly outraged many who heard the story through the media, but it sends a much harsher message to the field hockey players who were participating in that game. To minimize their sport and their efforts in order to have fireworks, a very unnecessary component for the football game, sends a direct message that the display of a men’s sport is more important.
In quick response to the actions taken by Kent State officials, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association released a statement criticizing the incident. President Anthony Whitcomb rightfully argued:
“While we understand that the fireworks were deemed to be an important part of Kent State University’s Family Weekend festivities which featured the home football contest, we cannot understand why the university would seemingly prioritize a daytime fireworks display over the completion of a Division I Women’s Field Hockey contest… We ask those in administrative and leadership positions at Kent State University to do some soul searching and to take responsibility for the lack of judgment and poor decision-making that was displayed on September 7. Putting pregame fireworks ahead of the completion of an NCAA Division I contest seems shortsighted at best and harmful to the development of female student-athletes at worst.”
Many female athletes have continuously heard, seen, and read comments on social media that men’s sports are just more entertaining because men are faster, stronger, and more competitive. Some of that may be true. Men may inherently be faster and stronger on average, but the does not mean the compete level, dedication, and passion for the sport is any greater than that of female athletes. It’s time to change the image of women’s sports and this starts with equal access and equal coverage. If women’s sports are to continuously make it on the big stage similar to the US Women’s Soccer team, young athletes need to see their passion and grit firsthand in order to be inspired by them. It’s on sports networks, broadcasting companies, the NCAA, individual colleges and universities, and all other stakeholders from the collegiate to professional levels to showcase the talents of female athletes to the same extent that men are showcased. And in the case that the women prove to be more successful, pay them their worth.
Contributions from Rachel Moran ’22 and Nicole Burdiel ’23
Every year the IWL accompanies the Sport Management Department on a trip to New York City. This year the IWL attended the Reproductive Freedom Walking Tour, hosted by the Social Justice Tours Group. The tour leader, Cindy Cooper, led a group of IWL students on a 2-mile tour of Lower Manhattan to highlight the places and people that were instrumental in granting women reproductive rights. The tour was an exceptional experience that educated students on empowering figures and it was a great way to experience different neighborhoods in New York City. The tour covered themes such as the history and status of reproductive rights, health and justice, changes in abortion law, and the intersectionality of bodily autonomy and human rights. Figures and sites included well-known names such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to the importance of Trojan Condom headquarters. It was also a great opportunity for students to create bonds within the IWL. Reflections from students are below:
“The reproductive rights tour was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope many people get the chance to take this tour. I didn’t know what to expect for the tour but I ended up really enjoying it and learning the history of how hard it was for women to get their reproductive rights. My favorite part of the day was just being surrounded by the great women in IWL. I have never felt so welcomed and happy by a group of women and I feel proud to be a part of IWL for this reason.” – Rachel Moran ‘22
“My favorite part of the day was sitting next to and speaking to President and CEO of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, Giselle Acevedo, on the train ride home. The biggest takeaway for me was bonding with the members of IWL and realizing how great of a group we are. It was really nice to eat ramen noodles for dinner with Rachel and some of the other girls. I enjoyed our conversations. I think the most interesting thing I learned was the suppression of and access to contraception and birth control. Overall, the trip was a lot of fun and quite insightful.” – Nicole Burdiel ‘23
“I personally enjoyed seeing all of the physical sites that have so much historical meaning to them. You could walk through NYC any day and walk through history without even knowing it. It was also empowering to hear how many of the pioneers of the women’s reproductive freedom initiatives were so willing to risk their lives and their freedom for what they believed in. Many were arrested, fined, and shunned from greater society, but they continued to fight for their rights. It’s eye opening to think about where we would be today without people like Susan B. Anthony.” – Sam Walther MSC ‘20
This year’s trip was a great experience for all and we cannot wait to find another interactive, educational, and empowering experience for next fall.