Seven Masks, Seven Matches

 

By Morgan Clark

It was in 2018 when she made a big upset, beating one the greatest athletes of all the time at the age of 20. Winning the Grand Slam as the first Japanese tennis player for both men and women. Naomi Osaka, a Haitian -Japanese tennis player, has made quite a stir in the tennis community. Many did not expect her to beat Serena Williams in the first place, but absolutely no one expected the controversy that would follow Osaka’s win. During the match Serena was penalized three times, and some believe that the referee robbed her of a win. But those who watched the game know that Naomi earned that win.

Two years later the 22-year old tennis player is in the headlines again, causing another upset. But this time it’s in her activism. Because of COVID, Naomi had time to herself for the first time since her career took off. She decided to fly down to Michigan to partake in the Black Lives matter protests. Along with her boyfriend, Osaka protested police brutality disproportionately effecting people of color. Since then, Naomi has taken her activism to the US Open. During each game she wore a different mask that stated a name of an African-American who has been killed by the police. Their names were: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. Seven masks for seven games. Not only did she bring awareness to others about the racial injustice that is going on in America, she won the US Open. And although what she has done is truly brave, there are those who believe she should have kept the “politics out of sports”. In response to that Osaka tweeted “All the people that were telling me to “keep politics out of sports”, (which it wasn’t political at all), really insured me to win. You better believe I’m gonna try to be on your tv for as long as possible.” (Twitter 2020). As a young athlete it was not expected for her to win the US Open. Not only did she win the US Open twice she did this while spreading awareness on a mainly white platform. Fearless is what Naomi is, on and off the court. We can’t wait to see what the future will hold for her.

Intersectionality, Love, and Basketball

By Abbie Lewis

Being a woman is certainly no easy task. We must hold car keys between our fingers from the store to our car, carry pepper spray to go for a run, work our butts off at a job and still not get paid as much a man, and all the while be expected to “smile more”. As a woman, we’re used to our everyday injustices, but some women have it worse than others and experience intersectionality. Intersectionality is when more than one of your attributes contributes to your criticisms and injustices. For example, we experience harassment for being women but sometimes women experience it for not only their gender, but their gender and their race, or their gender and their social economic status, or race and sexual orientation. The combinations are endless and sometimes women experience bias from all the above.

The #SayHerName campaign was created in December of 2014 by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), and its goal is to bring awareness to Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence. A lot of the times, these poor women and girls’ sufferings, or even their deaths, get swept under the rug and never discussed. This campaign is to make sure that behavior ceases. The topic most known right now by this group is that of Breonna Taylor. For those of you who don’t know about Breonna, she was an emergency room technician in Louisville, Kentucky and was watching a movie in bed with her boyfriend when police busted into her home, claiming they were surveilling the apartment for a drug raid, and Breonna was shot 5 times, bleeding out and dying on the floor of her apartment. Breonna was a victim of intersectionality, doing nothing but trying to sleep in her own bed. She was murdered for being a Black woman who maybe didn’t live in the greatest part of town. Breonna is not the only victim of intersectionality in recent news, there are far more, a couple of examples being Jacob Blake and Sandra Bland. Many are rising up to take a stand and spread awareness, including the WNBA.

The WNBA has always had to fight to be recognized and respected in comparison to the much more widely known and followed NBA. They are no strangers to standing up for themselves as women and a lot of them as Black women. The WNBA has joined with the #SayHerName campaign and is using their platform to spread awareness and get people talking They are wearing shirts and jerseys with Breonna Taylor’s name on them along with ones that say Black Lives Matter. The WNBA ladies are also making sure that before their games, they hold a moment of silence for the victims along with a photo and video montage.  An article in the New York times dives deep into their cause and platform and interviews specific players with their thoughts on everything as well.

I know a lot of the time, we think that we’re just one person or we’re too insignificant to really create any change. This is not the case. Women everywhere share the same struggle and therefore can band together and fight for what is right and what we deserve. We can use our passions and talents just like the WNBA ladies have done. Let’s keep fighting and spreading awareness until they can’t ignore us any longer.

Maya Moore: The Evolution of a Hero

 

By Morgan Clark

Maya Moore in the Olympics

Growing up I was a big college basketball fan. I liked men and women basketball. I would sit and watch the ball games every chance I got with both of my parents. There were quite of few players and teams who left an impression on me, but one of the most impactful ones was Maya Moore, who played for the University of Connecticut. Moore was a powerhouse to watch on the court in her college years. Watching her break records at her school, and seeing her win two championships back to back, was an amazing experience! She was arguably one the best basketball players of her time. She was a hero that young basketball players like me looked up to. I am not into basketball as much as I was years ago, and because of that I hadn’t really been following along as closely. So, one could imagine my shock when I learned that Maya Moore willingly sat out for two seasons of her professional basketball career, after winning two Olympic gold medals and many other awards! This is a woman who lives and breathes basketball, who was also still in her prime! But then I discovered her reason and gained a whole new-found respect for her.

Maya visited the City Correctional Center in Jefferson City, Missouri in 2007. There she met Jonathan Irons. Jonathan is a an African-American man who she believed was wrongfully convicted for a crime.  At 18, Irons was prosecuted for burglary and assault. Even though there was no DNA, footprints, fingerprints, blood or any other evidence to place him at the crime, he was still sentenced to 50 years in prison. Maya believed this to be a blasphemous injustice and in 2019, Maya announced her hold on her career to help Jonathan. It took a lot of time but finally in July 2, 2020 Jonathan Irons walked out of prison a free man, and guess who was out there waiting for him…Maya Moore.

Maya has since gone on to become a prominent activist in her community. She even has started a website called Win with Justice. There one can find information on wrongful conviction, current news and legislation, and how people can get involved in their own community. Now, even though she has taken a lot of time off from basketball, and become a huge player on the team of activism, she has not given up on her love for the sport. She claims she is in no way ready for retirement from the WMBA. The Olympic medalist will return to the court.

Maya Moore with Jonathan Irons 

As I said before, young Morgan considered Maya Moore a hero, because of her athleticism and her domination on the court. But adult Morgan considers her a hero because her activism. For her to take two years off from her career and passion, to help Jonathan, is nothing but noble. Using her platform and resource to help a man who was wrongful convicted, and to start a movement to help others like Jonathan, is something I want to see during this time of racial injustices. I hope that she can set an example for many other celebrities who have the platform, income, and resources to help those who need it most.

Reflecting on Roo Up!

By Olivia Brzozowski

On Thursday, November 7th, the UMKC Women’s Center partnered with Kansas City Athletics to host the event Roo Up With the Women’s Center, featuring the Kansas City Volleyball team. The volleyball match against Utah Valley took place at 7pm in The Swinney Center. Lots of fans came out to show support of their Roos, which ultimately led to a Roo win! The UMKC Women’s Center’s mission focuses on promoting gender equity around campus and the community. Because sports play such a major role in society, it is important that female athletes are supported just as much as male athletes. The UMKC Women’s Center has had the perfect opportunity to partner with Kansas City Athletics in support of female student-athletes on campus. Last month, the Women’s Center hosted its first Roo Up event at a Women’s Soccer game.

At the volleyball game specifically, free t shirts were handed out to all fans as well as buttons with phrases such as “Win Like A Girl”, and “WOMXN UP”, which is also what the t shirts said. Overall, it was a fun event and people loved the free t-shirts and buttons. It created an atmosphere where the Women’s Center could be promoted and we could educate people on our mission. The next Roo Up event will take place at a UMKC Women’s Basketball game, with the date TBD. So, keep your eye out for this one!! We are excited to continue this relationship with Kansas City Athletics, and get people excited to watch UMKC’s own very talented female student-athletes!

My own journey as a female athlete

By Allison Anderson

I never thought about how my gender played a role in my life until recently. Growing up I lived in a very equal household. Both my parents were in the military, everyone cooked, cleaned, and my mom even took care of our taxes. Nobody was above anybody and your gender did not define your role.

I recently learned that I was very lucky to grow up with the parents I did. After joining Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention office at Mizzou I learned that not everyone has had the same experience as me. While working for the women’s center here at UMKC, I have done hours of research which has opened my eyes to the unfortunate gender roles that have affected my life. I realized that my gender impacted one of the biggest parts of my life, my athletic career.

I started playing soccer when I was four and I can remember one particular sexist incident that still affects me today. When I was nine I won both competitions at soccer camp (juggling and an obstacle course). I was one of two girls in my group; everyone else was a boy, including the coaches. I beat all the young boys in my group by having a faster obstacle course time and juggling the ball more times than they did. When I won, the boys were less than supportive. In fact, they told me the only reason I beat them was because I was on steroids. Again, we were eight and nine years old.

As I continued to reflect on how athletics has played a role in my life, I realized that sexism is very prominent among young children and their sports. I coached for a children’s soccer organization for five years. The kids were ages two through five. The older the kids got, the more sexist the organization seemed to get. For example, the two year olds were all mixed in together; boys and girls just learning the basics. However, when they reached age four, they were separated into boy teams and girl teams, and given traditional gender role jersey colors. The girls’ teams wore pink, purple and yellow. The boys were given blue, green, and gray. I always thought it was odd and have now realized how something as simple as a color can have an effect on a child’s mindset towards gender.

Jersey colors aren’t the only way brands and organizations target gender roles. Cleats are the number one thing you need for soccer, and big named brands like Nike and Adidas take full advantage of traditional gender roles when it comes to making money. If you go to a sporting store and look at cleats, all of the girls’ cleats are pink, purple, or bright “feminine” colors. The boys are the opposite. Even in the men and women’s cleats section the colors are like this. It is ridiculous.

Growing up my favorite player was (and still is) Cristiano Ronaldo. He always promotes the coolest looking cleats and as a soccer player myself I wanted to wear the same cleats. But guess what? They only sell high-quality, expensive, name-brand cleats in adult male sizes. They don’t even sell a men’s size small enough for me to fit. It just makes me think that these brands do not feel women are good enough players or in a way, worthy enough, to wear these high-quality cleats.

This feeling of not being worthy or good enough really came to its height when I was in college. My school’s women’s soccer program had a good history and was consistently successful for many years. The same could not be said about the men’s program, but because we were women, our success did not matter, so the men’s team was treated better.

The number one most irritating part of playing college soccer was the fact that the men got to play at seven in the evening. Why is that irritating? Because the women’s team, my team, played at five in the evening before them. Our season is in the fall which means we play from August to November. Do you know how hot it is at five p.m. in some of those months? Do you know how many people are not able to attend our games because the average full-time job does not finish a work day until five in the evening? It was embarrassing. There were always more parents, locals, and students at the men’s games. Plus the environment was more fun and entertaining; and they got to play under the stadium lights because it was later at night.

The women’s team had more conference championships, more National Tournament bids, and overall more wins than the men’s team, but again, because we are women, none of that mattered. This story is starting to sound familiar, right? That’s because the United States women’s soccer team has been going through it for years. But there has recently been some hope brought into the lives of female athletes.

This year, the U.S. national women’s soccer team won another World Cup title. In the soccer world, the World Cup is the biggest competition you can win. The women on this team used their national platform to bring more awareness to gender inequality in athletics and people are finally starting to pay attention. Strong and dedicated female athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Serena Williams are helping pave the way for change. They are creating a world where women can play under those stadium lights, where girls can beat boys because they are better, and hopefully, someday, a world where a little girl can wear her favorite soccer player’s cleats.

 

Should Female Athletes Be Subject to Gender Testing?

By: Christina Terrell

Gender testing on female athletes has been around for some time now, however it has gone through phases. Gender testing happens to be the sex verification in sports, which grants eligibility for an athlete to compete in a sporting event that is limited to a single sex.

Back in the 90’s, it had been a mandatory and very extensive process. The gender testing process can involve evaluation by gynecologists, endocrinologists, psychologists, and internal medicine specialists. On a simple level, the athlete may be evaluated from their external appearances by experts. The athlete may also undergo blood tests to examine their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes. It was discovered that not all women have the standard female chromosomes, and this began to unfairly exclude some female athletes from competing in their sport.

In the year of 2009, mandatory gender testing resurfaced when Olympic cross-country runner, Caster Semenya won her race by more than just your typical two seconds. but she won the race by way more than two seconds. The public, along with race officials, began to talk, saying that it could be possible that Caster Semenya was really a man and should be disqualified. When Semenya went in for her gender testing, her results came back that she was “intersex”, meaning she possessed both male and female chromosomes. The tests were leaked to the public and the best day of her career turned into the worse day of her life.

Since the incident with Caster Semenya in 2009, the topic of gender testing and whether to make it mandatory or not has undergone many changes and discussions. As of 2018 the decision has been reached to mandate gender testing for females who solely compete in middle distance races of 400 meters to one mile. The reason for this being that these races require evaluations of speed, power, and endurance which are the components measured by the gender test and determine differences between females and males when it comes to testosterone levels. In the end, there are some people who feel this is fair and others who do not because women cannot help if their testosterone falls outside the range of what allows them to compete in the female categories. As a result, gender testing will continue to be an aspect of what females in the sports industry must rise above.

Upcoming Event: Feminist Film Friday

By Megan Schwindler

The Event

End your week watching a movie and enjoying some free pizza and snacks with the staff at the Women’s Center. The event will be held on Friday, March 9 from 12-2 p.m. at the UMKC Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall.

Make sure to RSVP to womens-center@umkc.edu or 816-235-1638 by March 7.

About Battle of the Sexes

After the sexual revolution and rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs was coined, “Battle of the Sexes” and “became one of the most televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world.”

“As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.  The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett developed.  And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.” You can follow this link to watch the trailer.

This movie shows that equality can only be achieved by men and women working together. It also serves as a reminder that feminism is not about beating or hating men, it’s about having the same opportunities and respect as men. As Billie Jean King put it, “That’s the way I want the world to look: men and women working together, championing each other, helping each other, promoting each other—we’re all in this world together.” After retiring in 1990, she was named to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, and served as captain of the U.S. Olypmic team at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. She also earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Women in Sports killed it in 2015

By Thea Voutiritsas

Here are eight memorable moments in 2015 that involved women in sports:

2015 Getty Images (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

2015 Getty Images (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Get it ladies!

Serena Williams

By Matiara Huff

Picture of Serena Williams retrieved from CreativeCommons.org

Picture of Serena Williams retrieved from CreativeCommons.org

Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan on September 26, 1981. Basically, ever since then she has been playing Tennis. She has one 69 singles titles, 22 doubles titles, 21 grand slams, and 4 Olympic gold medals, as well as many other awards. She has been titled the greatest female tennis player of all-time, and the 3rd greatest of all-time total. She holds the most major singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles combined amongst active all players, and is the only person to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Her records have made history, and her achievements have paved the way for more women of color to success.

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.