Women In Softball Gender Conciousness Suny Farmingdale Soc 200 Research Paper

3122 words - 13 pages

1
It has taken many years for women to gain some sort of equality in sports. Throughout history, women have been both excluded from playing sports and discriminated against in sports. Men’s sports have always dominated the college athletic field, but women were finally given a fighting chance after Title IX was passed, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Title IX, amongst other things, requires scholarships to be equally balanced between men and women’s sports. Although this was a huge gain for women, gender inequality still exists in sports today. An example of this persisting inequality can be seen when looking at men’s baseball and women’s softball. In college, baseball and softball are both major NCAA sports. It is widely accepted throughout today’s society that baseball is a man’s sport, and softball is a woman’s sport. Very few people question why the two sexes are separated into two different sports, or wonder why women play softball instead of baseball. Fewer people know that women have been essentially excluded from playing baseball for a long time. This paper will focus on why certain sports have not changed the way women’s basketball has, why women continue to play softball, the possibilities and dynamics of women playing baseball with and without men, and the most discriminating aspect of women being banned from playing professional baseball.
James Naismith created basketball as a sport in 1891, and it quickly became popular among both men and women. It initially started with the same rules for each gender, but according to Patricia Cain in her article, “Women, Race, and Sports: Life Before Title IX,” the rules quickly changed for women. Cain (2001) states that, “Almost immediately, however, some educators began changing the rules of basketball for women” (p. 340-341). These changes to women’s basketball were very drastic, and very different from men’s basketball. The initial changes to women’s basketball games in 1901 consisted of dividing the court into three divisions, and having six total players. Two players were assigned to each division of the court, and they were not allowed to leave their division. Furthermore, they were only allowed one dribble each, and physical contact was forbidden (Cain, 2001, p. 341). In 1938, these changes were slightly modified. The three court divisions were changed to two court divisions, with three players in each division. Once again, the players were not allowed to leave their divisions. Only the forwards were allowed to shoot the ball, and free throws were given for fouls. (Cain, 2001, p. 341). By the 1970’s, women in college basketball had five players and full-court rules, and although some states changed half-court to full-court for high school basketball, other states kept the half-court rules. Many attempts were made to change this, primarily by filing suits to claim that women’s rights were being violated. The first successful suit was Dodson v. Arkansas Activities Association in Arkansas, where Arkansas ruled in women’s favor and changed the rules from half-court to full-court (Cain, 2001, p. 344). By 1984, half-courts were almost completely eliminated in all states (Cain, 2001, p. 345). Clearly, much has changed in women’s basketball since the first rule changes. Society today would not put up with the past discriminating rules of women’s basketball. Women have come too far in the fight for equality in sports, and these different rules for women’s basketball would not be tolerated today. This information on the changes of women’s basketball leads to the question of why softball has not changed to baseball.
Although softball was not created for the purpose of using it as a baseball-substitute for women, that is exactly what it became. Softball has not changed to baseball because of the perception that baseball is a man’s sport. Men facilitated this perception in order to keep women out of baseball. According to Jennifer Ring in Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball: “The appropriation of baseball for American manhood was the result of developments that explicitly removed the game from the hands of girls and women and delivered it to white middle-class American men” (2009, p. 47). Ring (2009) continues to say that the “dissociation of baseball from anything female was accomplished in two parts: by the rewriting of baseball history and by the invention and use of softball as a substitute for baseball” (p. 47). An example of this is in the documentary Baseball, where women are shown for eight-six seconds of the total 119 minutes of the film (Ring, 2009, p. 17). Men effectively erased women from the history of baseball, which promotes the assumption that if women never played, then they do not need to play now. Baseball is now thought of as a masculine American Pastime, which women have had little to no part in. According to Debra Shattuck (2011) in “Women’s baseball in the 1860s: Reestablishing a historical memory,” girls and women have “been unable to establish their legitimacy as baseball players due to the lack of historical memory between generations of women players” (para. 3). In most people’s minds, softball is it’s own individual sport for women. This has put a lot of separation between baseball and softball, even the different names suggest that it is a different sport altogether. Softball has not changed to baseball because most people think there is no reason for it to change; they believe that they are two different individual sports for men and for women.
Women have gained a great deal of ground in the fight for equality in sports, most women still choose to play softball. Of course, there have been many efforts made in the past for women to play baseball, but most women today still choose to play softball. A large reason for this lies in the opportunities softball offers women. Softball provides a much more opportunistic future for women than baseball does. An example of this is college scholarships. There are no NCAA division I colleges that have women’s baseball as a sport, but softball has become quite popular throughout the NCAA, and it holds many scholarships for female athletes. This in itself is a major reason for women choosing softball; scholarships to prominent schools are a big motivation for female athletes. Another reason is that there are very few women’s baseball leagues, and most of them are relatively unknown. There have been a few professional leagues, such as the All American Girls’ Professional Baseball League and the Colorado Silver Bullets, but they always end up dying (Ring, 2009, 170-171). This is contrasted by softball, which has a very large professional league, the National Pro Fastpitch league, or the NPF. Softball gives women more opportunities and more motivation to succeed, because their goals have rewards, whereas women’s baseball just does not have as many future opportunities. According to the article “American Women Play Hardball in Venezuela” by Jennifer Ring, the highest achievement in women’s baseball is currently Team USA, which is a “brief interlude lasting a little more than two weeks every two years” (2012, para. 4). Another reason women continue to play softball is the lack of women’s baseball in the adolescent level. After little league baseball ends, girls are hard-pressed to find a team to play on. If they cannot find a baseball team to play on, one of the only options left to them is to play softball. According to Ring (2009), “If girls can be kept away from baseball between ages eight and twelve, they can probably be kept away for life” (p. 134). Regarding the lack of opportunities for girls’ in youth baseball, Ring continues to state “the absence of youth baseball for girls leads directly to the absence of high school girl’s baseball. With these institutional inhibitions, women’s baseball is unlikely to make an appearance among college sports, and even the few girls who play high school baseball have no place to go with it after their prep careers.’ (p. 135) The only other option for girls to play baseball is to play on guys’ teams, which is not an easy task. Girls are pressured by society to stick to their own teams, and to play softball instead of baseball. This is supported by Ring (2009), who states that most girls “will make the “sensible” choice of playing softball instead of baseball” due to the “increasing professionalization of youth sports and the rewards of college scholarships awaiting” (p. 132). The large number of opportunities of softball, the lack of opportunities for women’s and girls’ baseball, and the social pressure to play softball all explain what keeps women playing softball today.
Over the last forty years, women have made a great deal of progress. Title IX has completely revolutionized the women’s athletics. If more women chose to compete as baseball players today, there would be several ways to prepare them. The biggest way to prepare them would be to fix one of the biggest problems in women’s baseball, which is to provide more opportunities at a younger age. There are very few girls’ baseball leagues, and very few opportunities for girls to compete in baseball from adolescence all the way through college. The article “University of Nevada Professor Explores the Plight of Women Playing Baseball” supports this by stating that: “There is virtually no institutional support for women's or girls’ baseball in the United States. It is very difficult for girls and women to find a team to play on to develop their skills for the international competition” (Anonymous, 2010, para. 6). Starting at a young age is what builds the fundamentals for competitive sports, and practicing is what fortifies the skills of an athlete, which puts women’s baseball at a disadvantage, since it is lacking in both. Ring supports this by stating that “not only do they lack the opportunity to develop the early love of the game childhood offers, but they never develop the skill to compete on progressively more difficult levels” (p. 134). In order to prepare women to compete as baseball players today, there would need to be many more available youth girls’ baseball leagues. There would need to be more opportunities or teams for women to train for international competition. There would also need to either be high school girls’ baseball teams, or make high school baseball teams more suitable for co-ed play. The best way to prepare women to compete as baseball players today are to provide them with more opportunities to play at younger ages, and with more opportunities to train for competition. Ring agrees with this, and contends that: Girls can and should play little league baseball with boys, and be welcomed to play, at least up to age twelve. After that, there should be girls’ baseball leagues developed, to give little leaguers a place to continue to develop into high school and college players. (p. 172)
Ring continues to state that “it would be a slow path, but along with more encouragement for girls to play youth baseball, a culture of women’s baseball could be nurtured” (p. 145). Giving girls more opportunities to play baseball at a younger age would help hone their skills and love for the sport, and is the best way to prepare women to compete as baseball players today. If women were properly trained to play baseball today, there is no doubt that many of them would take that opportunity. However, they should not be forced to play if they do not want to play. If women want to play softball, it is their right to choose to play softball. If they were to play, however, the next question would be if they should be able to play with men. There are not many co-ed college sports out there, if there are any. The same can be said for professional sports. However, that does not mean that women should not be allowed to play with men. If it is a younger league, there should be no problem at all. Once high school, college, or professional league is reached, the fairest way to determine if women and men should play together would have to be a type of try-out system. Men and women both would have their skills tested, and whoever is good enough to play will play, regardless of gender. Women should be able to play with men if they have the same skill level. There are several factors that could affect women playing with men, such as injury, ability, speed, strength, and size. One of the major arguments for keeping women from playing baseball with men was that women could not physically compete with men. Although there are exceptions, generally men are larger, faster, and stronger. However, according to the Women and Sports Foundation’s article, “Baseball and Softball: Should Girls and Women Have to Choose?,” this does not play as big of a role in baseball. This article argues that Baseball is not an “absolute strength” sport. Baseball is a game involving skills that are a combination of timing, coordination, strength, knowledge of the game, strategies, control and savvy, to say nothing of the importance of competitiveness and desire. Even though strength may be a factor in pitching and hitting, timing and coordination can produce comparable throwing and batting. (Women and Sports Foundation, 2011, para. 4)
This shows that these physical factors do not automatically make men better baseball players than women. They may give men an advantage, but baseball is more of a skilled game than a brute physical game. Just because a man is extremely athletic and strong does not automatically mean that he is going to be a stellar baseball player. Baseball takes ability, not just physical competence. According to Ring, much athletic theory has been built by emphasizing differences in weight distribution, muscle mass, and center of gravity between male and female bodies. Dowling argues that differences in body types do not translate into ability into any given sport. (p. 150) There are also some women who are just as physically capable as men. Another concern for women playing with men is the potential for injury. Since men are generally larger than women, the size difference could potentially lead to an injury if there was a collision between them (Ring, 2009, p. 148). However, with the proper training and muscle conditioning, this risk could be minimized. Ring argues that “even if a woman were smaller than a man, if she were strong and well conditioned, her muscles would protect her bones in a collision just as a man’s would” (p. 149). Even if the risk for injury is greater for women, incidents such as collisions are not that common of occurrences in baseball, and the risk of injury to most baseball players is not high. With this information, it is clear that women should be allowed to play with men if they choose. The physical strength, speed, and size of men do not automatically give them more ability than women in baseball, because baseball is a game of skill.
Women being kept out of professional baseball cannot be attributed to anything other than discrimination. At its core, this is an issue of sexism. Baseball has become a patriarchal enterprise where men are allowed and women are not. According to Ring, sexism is about one gender believing they are in some way better than the other. The differences between male and female bodies do not translate into innate or systematic superiority, or inability to do certain things other than the purely physiological. Baseball talent is not purely physiological. (p. 166) This sexism is the most discriminating aspect of women being banned from having the opportunity to play professional baseball. Sexism is evident by the fact that there are women out there who are good enough to play, and are still excluded. It would be one thing for women to be excluded if they were not good enough to compete, but the fact is that there are women who are more than good enough. There is overwhelming evidence that women have both the skills and the abilities to play, and yet they are still kept out of professional baseball. This is an extreme case of sexism, excluding female athletes who are qualified to play just because they are females. Ring states that Major League Baseball has demonstrated neither the willingness nor ability to move beyond its history of entitlement for the few, and a century after America’s National Game was written, half of the nation is still discouraged from playing the game on any level. (p. 166) This aspect of sexism is the most discriminating aspect of women being banned from having the opportunity to play professional baseball.
In conclusion, while women have come very far in sports’ equality, there is still inequality today. Softball was created as a substitute sport for women to keep them out of baseball, and this problem still exists. Men have put separation between softball and baseball by erasing women from the history of baseball, and have influenced society into believing that baseball is for men, and softball is for women. Since there are very few opportunities for women’s baseball, many women choose to play softball so that they have more future opportunities, such as college scholarships and professional leagues. If more women began playing baseball, the best way to prepare them would be to give them more opportunities to play at a younger age and more places to train, so that they could fortify their skills. Women should not be forced to play baseball if they prefer softball, but if they choose, women should be allowed to play with men. Men’s physical advantages do not automatically give them more ability in baseball than women. Women have been discriminated against for a long time in sports, particularly baseball, and the most discriminating aspect of this is blatant sexism. The fight for women in baseball is still ongoing, and hopefully one day there will be a change.
Works Cited
Anonymous (2010). University of Nevada professor explores the plight of women playing baseball. Entertainment Close-Up. Jacksonville, TN: Close-Up Media Inc.
Cain, Patricia (2001). Women, race, and sports: Life before Title IX. The Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice, 4(2), 893-896Palmer, Gladys E. (1929). Baseball for girls and women. New York: A. S. Barnes and Company.
Ring, Jennifer (2012). American women play hardball in venezuela: Team USA battles invisibility at home, is celebrated abroad, and faces gunfire at the Women’s World Cup. Spring 2012 Baseball Research Journal, 41(1).
Ring, Jennifer (2009). Stolen bases: Why american girls don’t play baseball. Chicago Il: University of Illinois Press.
Shattuck, Debra (2011). “Women’s baseball in the 1860s: Reestablishing a historical memory.” Nine,19(2), 1-26. Retrieved from
Women’s Sports Foundation (2011). Baseball and softball: Should girls and women
have to choose? Retrieved from

RELATED

Gender inequality (men being superior to women) - School - Research paper

787 words - 4 pages Saeed 4 Saeed Ismail Lindsay Taaffe English 11B Date: 02/03/2018 In the distant past, people believed that men and women are totally two different species that are not comparable. Men were considered the superior gender that made the absolute decisions and controlled women’s destiny as well. Hundred years back, newly born girls are buried alive because it was believed that having a girl was very shameful. On the other hand, as soon as newly born

Athenian Women Vs. Spartan Women-Research Paper

3526 words - 15 pages studied cases was the difference in treatment between Athenian and Spartan women. Because the methods were so majorly separate, researchers are able to compare and contrast the cultures in a way that highlights the significance in the treatment of women.Before writing this paper, I had a very general idea of how Spartan and Athenian women were treated. I didn't have much interaction with studying Athenian women besides the standard historical

The Importance of Gender Equality in the Workplace - research college paper - rearch paper/essay

980 words - 4 pages transgender workers fearful of discrimination from deciding to express their identities openly or not. Organizations must create a gender-inclusive workplace to protect transgender workers from discrimination. This paper will prove the need for transgender education, gender-neutral spaces and dress codes to protect transgender workers within the workplace. Transgender employees, as well as the entire transgender population in society, have faced

Borderline Personality Disorder: Gender in Context - Florida State Unversity - Clinical Social Work - Research paper

3180 words - 13 pages Free prevalence rates of BPD in women are much higher than in men, at a ratio of 3:1 (APA, 2013). ​ However, this glaring difference in diagnosis rates has brought about research into why there appears to be a higher diagnosis rate in women versus men, and there have been studies conducted in the last ten years that have suggested that the prevalence rates between men and women are more comparable than often times reporte​d (Grant et al., 2008). It is

Gender role and lessons played in Lanval - English 201 - research paper

964 words - 4 pages English-201 December 6, 2018 The gender role and lessons played in Lanval. In stories and literatures, we tend to always see the male characters as the heroes. They are always in charge, they always come to the rescue whenever something is wrong, no matter what the situation is, they are always the hero of the day. In Lanval by Marie De France, the role completely switched, and a woman is the hero. Aside from dismantling gender stereotypes

gender equality for women now and back in time - english 2 - essay

1707 words - 7 pages superior sex. Should this mean that women are of less significance in our society? Gender inequality can often be measured in the distribution of a society’s wealth, power and privilege. Although women have gained more respect and have established a new sense of power, they are still in many spheres valued less than men. In the story of Sophocles’ Antigone, a classic Greek play, Antigone’s character is based on the inequalities women have always faced

transgender rights and representation of gender - physical eduction - research paper

2165 words - 9 pages research exists almost exclusively in medical and psychological research. The basis of transgender research lies in the sociological idea of gender as performance. Harold Garfinkel led this research, studying Agnes, a transwoman, to theorize gender as “doing” and as a “choreography of micro-interactions” (Papoulias). This theory further led sociologists to study and argue social enforcement of gender norms, which was used frequently by feminist

The Essay Is A Research Paper That Arguments A Law In Florida That Prohibits Homosexual Men And Women From Adopting Children

1251 words - 6 pages Sociological Association; his practices were proven to be unprincipled; he misrepresented much of his research and presented facts without validation (qtd. in Ferrero, Frecker, Foster 49).To differ, many accredited studies have been conducted to prove that gay/lesbian individuals do make good parents.There are many groups, including the ACLU Lesbians &Gay Rights Project, who fight constant legal battles to achieve equal treatment for heterosexual

Pollutants from buried army base in Greenland - Suny Sullivan Composition II - Research paper

771 words - 4 pages 1 Katelin Jester Essay 1 March 8, 2018 Final draft Pollutants from buried army base in Greenland In 1959, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Camp Century, below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland. This was used as a test site for deploying nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union, however, the public did not know this. It was advertised as a research station, the people in charge of said research were a secret group known as Project

The Gender Wage Gap in the past and present - Ryerson University, Sociology - Research essay

2493 words - 10 pages SOC 103: Why Do Women Earn Less than Men in the Labour Market? Sunday November 18th, 2018 Dr. S. Guzzo Daniel Stanciulescu 500904454 Sarah Lee 500750968 Daniel Trentadue 500618049 Introduction Throughout history, the amount of human capital investment women have contributed towards the labour market has grown exponentially. Although this is the case, the gender wage gap still remains evident as women's skills and competencies continue to be

The Portrayal of Christian Religion in Sausage Party - Sex, Gender & Religion - Research Papers

2027 words - 9 pages Sex, Gender & Religion Andy Martinez Diaz Sonia Zylberberg May 14th, 2018 Contemporary Social Concerns: Religion, Sex & gender Research Project The Portrayal of Christian Religion in Sausage Party The fictional story I chose is Sausage Party. This movie is an animated adult comedy cartoon that can be categorized as a fictional/adventure genre. The religion I am mostly going to discuss is Christianism and its depiction of the religion in the

Gender in the Media; a research essay that focuses on how we portray gender in the media - City College, Sociology - Essay

1328 words - 6 pages among most characters. Women are often feminine, dainty, and portrayed in a very specific way, while men have their own set of stereotypes they’re often portrayed in. These stereotypes seem to follow suit with other genders when they do appear in mainstream media, which is scary to think about when you consider the effect that these stereotypes have already on us. As young as two years old, women are subjected to the concept GENDER IN THE MEDIA

Impact of HIV amongst African American WOMEN - Psych Aspects of Human Sexuality - Research paper

2404 words - 10 pages assume the opposite of the traditional gender role. With that being said, because black women are the sole care takers and financial providers for everyone else in their family, they lack the physical AND financial capability to care for themselves especially those who are low- income. The financial burden of not being able to receive support for themselves has influenced their decisions on making better ,healthier and safe choices regarding

Transgression in Nella Larsen's Passing - Tennessee Tech University - Approaches to Women in Literature - Literary Research Paper

924 words - 4 pages Free Transgression in Nella Larsen’s Passing In Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella Passing, the author examines the realities and social politics of white passing in 1920’s New York. Irene Redfield is a comfortably married half-white woman who has accepted her racial identity. However, she is forced to examine other viewpoints when, almost as if by fate, she is reconnected with a childhood acquaintance, Clare Kendry. Clare is woman of a similar background

research paper on akenthen dweller in truth - history 105 - research paper

1447 words - 6 pages Assignment Prompt: Write a 1500-word argument (about 4-5 pages double-spaced) about how you know that something is true. Final Paper: Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth In Naguib Mahfouz’s Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth, fourteen different stories of the heretic king Akhenaten are told. Some praise the king and his beliefs, some condemn him as a plague to Egypt, but all of the stories are unique in their detail and perspective. From Akhenaten’s teacher