Athletes That Silence Trolls

by Sofia Artemieva

“Women belong in the bedroom and the kitchen, in that order”. By saying sexist comments former tennis pro-Bobby Riggs was drumming up attention for his next big game. He was about to play world number 1, Billie Jean King. Could a retired male tennis pro beat the best female player? In 1973 90 million people tuned in as Billie Jean King played Bobby. She beat him 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Billie Jean King shaking Bobby Riggs’s hand in the game dubbed “The Battle of The Sexes.”

The door to sports has been open to me my whole life; from I first holding a racquet as a kid to using the rowing machine at the university gym. I’ve never felt like being a girl has deprived me of the opportunity to practice sports. I haven’t been told to walk off the tennis court and into the kitchen. Wise. I’m skilled on a tennis court and worthless in a kitchen. In my life boys and girls got an equal chance to do sports. That’s the way it should be. That’s fair.

My right to do sport under the same conditions as my male peers did not appear out of thin air. My access to sports was secured for me by others. I am respected on the tennis courts because athletes like Billie Jean proved that female athletes are worthy of respect. Tennis is not the only sport in which women’s ability to perform has been questioned. 

The first official female runner of the Boston Marathon had to break rules to participate. In 1967 Katherine Switzer hid her gender by registering for the marathon using her initials.

Women weren’t allowed to run.

When the competition director Jock Semple discovered a woman running his marathon, he tried tackling her. Katherine finished the race. She proved that women could run marathons with their uteruses intact.

Katherine Switzer in the 1967 Boston marathon being chased by competition director Jack Semple

Not all girls have the same opportunity to practice sports as boys. I’m hopeful that opponents to women doing sports will be silenced by the overwhelming evidence that women do belong on courts and pitches.  The role model of a high-performing female athlete did not die when Katherine and Billie retired. Their legacy is alive and well, right here on our campus.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Head down to the sports center and see for yourself.

There is a basketball game on the 11th of March.

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