- Letters to Editor
Anyone raised in a sports-loving family understands the many small-minded stereotypes that come with involvement in sports. You have the usual sports versus sports stereotype, where a debate of which American sport holds more importance, continues to be argued. And of course, the gender-bias stereotypes still exist, those professing that men are better athletes in all aspects of sports.
Don’t get me wrong, men are most likely more athletic in a general sense. But have you ever seen a man play softball better than a female who knows the game well? Me either. So that stereotype does not exactly fit perfectly in the sports world. What I really want to get at here is the stereotypes in the sport of softball. Having played softball my whole life, I have heard every label in the book. But of all the labels I have heard, I will pick my three favorite.
First, the “softball body.” Never heard of it? Don’t worry, I’ll explain. A softball body labels any girl playing softball as thick-boned and hefty; manly, even. With this label, the image of masculinity tends to overshadow the more realistic image of each individual’s body shape.
The absurdity of this statement makes me laugh, really, because saying every female softball player is masculine would be like saying every male football player is 270 pounds of pure muscle. Any football fan can tell you not all of those men are pounds of muscle.
The next stereotype usually only comes from the mouth of a baseball player or fan. To make everything clear, I love baseball. It is America’s favorite pastime, how could anyone not love it? But when I hear someone say softball is less of a sport than baseball, I can literally feel my blood pressure rising. Have you ever noticed how alike the two sports are? They are almost identical; same concept, same set-up, just different sizes in equipment and fielding. So if the two sports correlate so closely, how can one really measure as a greater sport than the other?
My final label definitely is my favorite of all time. If I had to guess, I would say every male athlete has spoken these words at some point in time. And every female athlete has probably heard it. Personally, if I had a penny for every time I heard “You play ball like a girl” I would be overflowing in riches. Most men use this as an insult. But is it actually an insult? Take a look at Eastern’s softball team. The team has such a deep roster of fast runners and batters who hit well, you would think you were watching a home run derby rather than an actual softball game.
In Eastern’s case, “you play ball like a girl” would be heartwarming to hear. So, to answer the question of whether this stereotype serves as a worthy insult or not, I go with not. In fact, when I hear this I welcome it with my head held high and a simple “thank you” in response.
The stereotypes of this enjoyable sport have lasted my whole life. Odds are they’ll continue for as long as I live. The key is to know the truth behind each label and to understand the individualities of each player in the game.