The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

Challenging athletic limitations

Female athletes experience discrimination because of physical abilities

Ever since I was little, teachers and coaches have set expectations for what I can and can’t do. From physical education classes to the ice rink, I’ve been constantly reminded how inferior I am compared to boys.

I remember continually trying to prove myself in gym class, especially during fitness testing. At a young age, I realized no one had big physical expectations for me.

In third grade, during the wall-sit fitness test, I felt determined to prove I had the ability to perform as well as any boy in the class. The test was simple — each student was required to line up parallel to the wall and on the whistle was to proceed in a wall sit position. In the first minute, many of my fellow classmates dropped to the ground, but I was determined to prove my strength not only to my peers but to my teacher.

I ended up tying with a boy in my class after our teacher told us we both needed to stop because it was taking too long. I remember how proud I was of my perseverance and capability to prove that despite my gender, I was able to complete that physical task as well as any boy.

As I continued on to middle school, I acknowledged that gender barriers were growing in my athletic education class. Girls were expected to run slower and perform fewer sit ups and pushups than boys.

During a girls’ sit up test I became upset because the tape ended before I had exercised to my full capability. This limitation built into the physical education program discouraged girls from pushing themselves. People told me my physical abilities were not equal to my male counterparts. The purpose of the athletic testing was intended to push students to go the extra mile, but instead it limited my chance of achieving success.

As I got older, I realized this assumption of female inferiority was widespread. Many athletics today limit how far women can succeed. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, less than two percent of ESPN Sportscenter and network news time are allotted for women’s sports coverage. According to USC Dornsife, during the month of March, ESPN Sportscenter covered a short series called “Celebrating Women’s History Month,” but made female athletes appear as separate and trivial.

According to Awful Announcing, commentators will not attend the first and second-round games of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. This creates the perception that these female sports events are not important enough for broadcasters to spend production costs. According to National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Women’s Hockey Final was only shown online, while first round NCAA basketball tournament games were covered extensively.  

Discrimination against female athletics prevails in today’s society. Changes can start with making physical education an equal process. Women are taught that they cannot achieve greater athletic success than their male counterparts. By making a few changes, the way society perceives female athletics could change drastically. Every female, no matter how old, should know that they are capable of achieving great things and should not be held back by gender expectations.

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