Thursday, June 09, 2011

I guess it depends on your definition of thriving

I like to see/read stories on women in the so-called non-traditional sports; as in non-traditional for women; not non-traditional as in Ultimate Frisbee (which is not an insult--I like non-traditional sports or sports done in non-traditional ways; check this out).
And so I do read the stories about women playing American football with interest. This one was not the best I have ever read. But it raised a few interesting points.
1. I think the title is a little misleading: Women Thriving in Traditionally All-Male American Football. Perhaps personally as some of those quoted in the story recount. But also noted in the article is that several of the dozen or so leagues have folded. Also of note but not mentioned in this particular piece is that a lot of these leagues are semi-professional and the level of funding is not so good. Players incur all kinds of costs from equipment to travel.
2. The ability of sport to change one's mental attitude was a good point raised during a discussion of one player who noted that sport was like her therapy. This is good news when we hear and see so many negative effects of sports--especially on young children and teens and girls. Even though I frequently experience sport (and other physical activity) as mentally transformative, I forget it can be the norm and not the exception. And I wonder how much this is related to the fact that football for women is not the norm. Maybe the same pressures do not exist as when women engage in traditional sports or when anyone engages in non-traditional sports.; or--again--sports played/experienced in non-traditional ways.
3. Yay for women owning sports teams! The owner of the Baltimore Nighthawks, Tanya Bryan, knew nothing about women's football when she bought the team four years ago. But she remained committed to the sport and providing opportunities for women in Baltimore; and the team is now breaking even. And she gets it:

Most of the time as women growing up we're told not to be aggressive, not to be assertive. It's nice to have an outlet where you can come somewhere and let all of that out. You can be loud, you can hit somebody. You can just let it all go. It's really healthy and the team camaraderie is fantastic."

So it does seem like some are thriving from participation (at different levels) of football. Hope the thriving grows!

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