I’ll admit during my school years I wasn’t very good at sports. My only moment of glory I would say was whilst we were playing a game of rounders in year 5. My best friend was batting. I could see the ball flying in my direction in slow motion. My fellow team mates were already sighing dejectedly upon seeing the ball was coming in my direction (I may have had a silent reputation for being the worst at games) the ball luckily for once was within reaching distance and I caught it. Everyone thought it was quite ironic the one time I won the game for us it was at the expense of my best friend.
I would say I am more of a sports spectator than a participant. I grew up with a dad who would repeatedly watch his VCR copy of the ’92 Cricket world cup. This particular game was probably one of the most iconic moments in Pakistani cricket. On the other hand my mother would never fail to miss a Wimbledon tournament. Me and my sister would usually rush home from school to watch our cartoons. However During the summer season for a couple of weeks my sister and I never dared to touch the remote. So every summer we would join mum watching Tim Henman never quite make it through the rounds at Wimbledon.
So you’re all probably thinking wow she’s gone off on one again, where’s all this heading. Recently I’ve been seeing ‘sexist’ comments online and elsewhere against women. I admit sometimes things are said in humour but most of the time they’re not funny but damn sexist and boring. According to some it’s okay for men to watch and talk all the sports they want but No, women are not allowed to do the same. No we should stick to the kitchens or shopping for shoes. And seriously you don’t have to patronise us with diagrams showing us the offside rule using ‘shopping’ analogies!
A couple of days ago a guy got retweeted onto my timeline, he had compiled a list of #TheMostAnnoyingThingsEver one of which was “girls tweeting about cricket” This might have hit a nerve with me provoking me to tweet about it. Why is it not okay for women to watch or play sports? One of the most common arguments thrown in and the one I received was that ‘women can’t play as well as men’. The question of “could the world’s best female boxer beat the world’s best male boxer?” was put to me. I strongly believe Men and women were created differently for a reason but this does not mean that the level of respect should be any different. You wouldn’t put a kid from year 1 up against a teen from year 12 in a game of rugby, now would you? They have varying degrees of strength such as men and women do. At creation we were given different types of bodies and different types of strengths. Women can tolerate the most painful experience of child birth which men cannot.
Many would agree that Men’s sports are more prominent in the media and women’s events normally take the back bench. Caster Semenya the South African athlete attracted much controversy in the media. She won the 800 meters at the world championships in Berlin in 2009. Accusations were made that she was competing in a women’s event unfairly. Throughout Caster’s life she had been taunted for her build and her ability. She was finally asked to take a gender verification test to determine whether she was female. The results revealed that she was in fact a woman and could compete in women events. I think this particular event speaks volumes about society’s perception of women’s sports. Almost as if there are boxes or limits to the ability women may posses and if they don’t fit these criteria then there’s something quite not right and has to be looked into.
Sports can play an important role in society. It teaches many life lessons in team work, discipline, commitment, setting and achieving goals. An important aspect of sports is a sense of sportsmanship. Recently we went to watch Pakistan v West Indies at the ICC champions trophy, although we lost (badly) the match ended with several fans shaking hands with the opposition. Even though throughout the match we had been goading each other. Essentially that’s what it’s all about a bit of fun rivalry but most importantly bringing people from different corners of society together.
Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to try and create some sense of unity between the two races. Sports can be powerful and always brings along a strong sense of belonging, pride and emotion. It’s accessible to everyone and can unite people around the world. So why just reserve it for one gender?
There are many examples of great sporting women that have gained the same respect as men: Tanni grey Thompson, Venus Williams, Ellen MacArthur, Kelly Holmes and many more.