Column: Why women belong in sports

I’m here to provide a very complicated and in-depth explanation as to why women belong in sports: because they do and they can. (Courtesy/Molly Burkhardt)

There seems to be a lot of people confused about the relationship between females and sports. Whether it be the trolls underneath tweets about the UConn women’s basketball team’s dominance, pouting about it not being a real sport or making an original comment about women belonging in kitchens, or maybe the guys I’ve met at bars that feel the need to quiz me on my sports knowledge to confirm whether or not I’m actually interested in sports, because me saying I am just isn’t nearly enough, female involvement in athletics can be a mystery to men.

I’m here to provide a very complicated and in-depth explanation as to why women belong in sports: because they do and they can. It should really be as simple as that, but in my experience thus far, that alone is not nearly enough.

Don’t get me wrong; conversations about old Red Sox players’ records and debates over rotations are perfectly fine. In fact, that is literally what I want my career to revolve around. Telling me I know nothing about baseball because I couldn’t tell you Fred Lynn’s batting average in 1976, however, is not fine. Two weeks ago I spent my Spring Break in Florida bouncing around spring training games. On the first day, a young man sat down next to me in the left field lawn. We chatted for a bit about the game, when he caught on that me, a female, was truly interested in what was going on in the field. That’s when the trivia started. These questions always make me laugh, because they’re often some insignificant stat that someone uses to make them sound sports intelligent.

“Oh, you know Lynn’s ’76 batting average? What was his average in ’77?” Look at that, you only knew that obscure stat because you heard it on MLB Network one day and it happened to stick. Guess we’re even now, and we’re both baseball idiots.

My other favorite response to the realization I’m a female trying to make a living in sports media is that I’m doing it for the attention of men.

“Do a little more research and you’ll make some guy really happy one day,” my spring training friend so kindly suggested to me.  

“You want to cover baseball to date a player some day, right?” Another question I’ve been asked this past year.

Every long drive to a game or practice, standing in seven inches of snow trying to set up a tripod in the middle of January, the all-nighters spent learning Premier, the editing, then re-editing videos until I’m satisfied. I must be doing all that to impress a guy, or to weasel my way into dating an athlete. Certainly not because I care about my work and am constantly looking for experience and ways to get better. Not because I grew up watching baseball with my dad, playing organized and neighborhood sports. Not because I’ve dreamed of being a reporter and an athlete, and found a way to combine my two passions into a career.

The next time sports come up in conversation with a female: debate, discuss, and engage. Just don’t immediately test their sports knowledge in an attempt to exploit yours and feel dominant (and if you insist on doing so, at least make sure you know your own trivia because WAR stands for “Wins Above Replacement” not “Wins Against Replacement”).

While these questions and comments sometimes briefly get under my skin, the ignorant statements will only fuel us to work harder. And as females we will continue to thrive in a once male-dominated industry.  


Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mary.burkhardt@uconn.edu.