Let’s Break the Gender Stereotypes about Women in Sports

By Torshawna Griffin

Image from Creative Commons.

Image from Creative Commons.

Two athletes, both African American, both going through the same situation. The difference is that the media took one athlete’s “moment” and shrugged it off, but made a story of the other. Britney Griner was a first draft pick for the WNBA and currently plays for the Phoenix Mercury. In April of 2013, she openly came out about her sexuality. Why you didn’t hear about this? Well, because the Sports Association and media both shrugged it off due to the stereotype, “Female athletes are lesbians” (Complex Sports 2013). Why is this the gender stereotype of females in sports in America? Because female athletes are portrayed to be masculine, pushing everyone to believe that they must be lesbians if they are “manly”.

While on the other hand, Michael Sam, a college male athlete that is going into the NFL draft, has received more publicity for this same personal landmark.  Michael Sam attends Mizzou and is currently pursuing a career in the NFL.  He openly came out and told the world that he was gay. Media has spun a controversy of whether his sexual orientation will out shine his talents. Michael’s agent has said that he does not think his decision to acknowledge his sexual orientation will hurt his draft prospects (Palm Beach Post 2014), while the media and a few NFL executives think otherwise. “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” a personnel assistant told New Republic Magazine. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this time it’s still a man’s-man game.” What does that mean, a man’s-man game? Is he any less of a man because he likes other men?

Which brings the subject, why women are automatically lesbians for being an athlete and why are men criticized for being anything out of the status quo of masculinity. It should not matter whether Britney or Michael are gay. The thing that should draw the media to them is the fact that they both shine tremendously in their sport. We fight for gender equality every day. Gender roles should not exist because a woman can do anything that she puts her mind to, just a like a man can do anything he puts his mind to. Had the media not made a “story” of this young man’s courage, maybe he would not have plummeted 70 points in the CBS NFL draft board (since has regained 50 of those points). The media should be focusing on positive aspects of both these athletes’ lives. Instead of blasting Michael’s sexuality, Britney should have been congratulated for being the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement with Nike.