Stereotypes should have no place in sports

Erin Wood, Staff Writer

I play softball, have short hair and I am not a lesbian. As a female athlete, I have played deafly to the stereotypes, stigmas and connotations that come with playing to win. As a tomboy, it has been interesting to watch the presentation of female athletics evolve. Having been born after June 23, 1972, I know not the struggles of female athletes before the passing of Title IX. So any gripes I might have about competing in a man’s world pale in comparison to those who never had the opportunity to play at all.

Somewhere between my little league years and now, it became okay to not only play like a girl, but look like one as well. Makeup, nail polish, and hair ribbons are now as common on the playing field as pre-wrap and tape. As the only girl on several teams, I wouldn’t have been caught dead with pink batting gloves or girlie accessories. Today, my view is different. If pink sports equipment lures more girls into competitive athletics, then bring on the pink (and purple for that matter).

After the London Olympics, Nike put out a women’s t-shirt to commemorate U.S. female athletes winning two-thirds of the total USA gold medals. The shirt said “Gold Digging” on the front and it sent the web on fire. The outrage. How insensitive. How could they?

The wave of comments pointed to sexism and lack of taste from an established industry leader. I rather enjoy the admitted irony of their message. At least the conversation surrounding this controversial slogan was actually worth having; unlike the discussion derived from comments made about the state of Gabby Douglas’s hair during Olympic competition. By the way, she went on to become the first African-American to win the all-around Olympic gold in women’s gymnastics. She was also berated for getting a makeover after the games. Poor girl, even when she wins, she loses.

So I have to ask, if a female designer created the shirt, would it matter? What if the designer was well known for a personal style, which frequently incorporated pop-culture? If the shirts were also available in men’s sizes, would the sexist claims ever have surfaced at all?