First Edition: Letters From The Nation
Hello. My name is Jessica. I’m a girl and I’m a sports fan.
Yes, that’s right. I said it. I love sports. I watch ESPN on a regular basis. I read sports columns. I go to any sporting event I can get at.
And I’m a girl.
The reaction that I usually receive from a guy after I admit this tends to be something along the lines of: “What? You like sports? But you’re a girl!” This emotional outburst is often followed by a confused stare. I guess the shock of meeting a girl who is a sports fan is too much for him to handle.
Why it is that guys find it so hard to believe that girls are capable of liking sports? Why is that such a foreign idea? Yes, it’s true that a lot of my girl friends are not sports fans at all. However, over the years, I have learned that this is not because girls are born with some kind of natural aversion to sports or possess a gene that determines our level of affinity to sports. Rather, I’ve found that girls don’t like sports simply because a lot of girls have never been encouraged to take an interest in sports. We are told that sports are for boys, watching sports is what men do, and girls don’t really know anything about sports.
I grew up watching my brother play baseball and soccer, so I was raised with the love of sports. I had the opportunity to learn from an early age the beauty and power of sports, but not a lot of my girl friends had the same type of encouragement. To them, sports are perceived to belong to the realm of the masculine and fall into that category of things that only guys like — stereotypically, power tools and driving big trucks. Sports are not something for girls to love, unless it’s a stereotypically “girly” sport like ice skating or gymnastics.
I disagree. In my opinion, sports are for everyone and anyone, and I’ve found that the easiest way to rid my friends of this misconception is to force them to go to a sporting event. The suggestion is usually met with complaints, the rolling of eyes, or a flat-out “Heck no!” and I usually only succeed in actually getting them to an event by bribing them with food and free stuff (thanks UC Irvine marketing for helping with that one). Once I get them to a sporting event, however, I see a total and beautiful transformation. The atmosphere, the excitement, the competition and the pride all work their magic, and it isn’t long before my friends are jumping up and down, throwing up the “Rip ‘Em Eaters” sign, or yelling “Go Angels!” as loud as they can. No longer do they see a sporting event as something only guys go to. When I flip on “Sports Center” that night, they will point to the screen and say, “Hey, I know that guy! He’s on the Angels!” Now they’re the ones asking me when the next UCI baseball game is. It is truly glorious to witness.
What’s more, it is proof to me that the world of sports does not have to be one dominated by men. Whether it’s baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, football, golf, volleyball, you name it, sports can unify. Sports have the ability to bring people together, both players and fans, which is one reason sports are so awesome. When I’m at a ball game, all it takes for me to make five new friends instantly is a bad call by an umpire or a homer over the left field wall. When people who love the same sports team come together, they form one of the strongest bonds I’ve ever witnessed and personally experienced.
Sports should not divide along gender lines. That is not why people play, and that is not why fans watch. The love of sports should be something we share and spread to as many people as possible because of the fact that sports have the rare ability to bring people together and create an incredible sense of camaraderie. Kind of redundant
So boys, instead of complaining that your girlfriend won’t let you watch the basketball game, or that you can never meet a girl who likes sports, do us a favor and force a girl to go to a sporting event with you. Let her become interested in sports and help her learn. Even if you have to bribe her with a beer and a hot dog, get her to go. And girls, don’t turn your noses up at sports because they’re a “guy thing.” They’re not. Just ask any female athlete here at UCI. Relax a little, go out on a limb, and try something new. If nothing else, you’ll get the aforementioned beer and a hot dog out of it. I’m urging all of us to be open-minded and to work together to eliminate the gender stereotypes associated with sports.
And what better place to start than at our very own Anteater Ballpark! Our No. fifth ranked UCI baseball team is red-hot, and they deserve some love. Games are free to all students, there is always a free t-shirt toss, the guys in the sound booth have a fabulous sense of humor, and there is a never-ending supply of kettle korn for sale. So give it a try. Believe it or not, you just might like it.