by Rayne Marshall
Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.
Women have been in sports for decades. But it wasn’t always a mainstream thing. It used to be almost absurd for women to be in sports. In fact, it was highly encouraged that women do not run because doctors warned that if they did their uterus would fall out.
Women have been in sports for decades. But it wasn’t always a mainstream thing. It used to be almost absurd for women to be in sports. In fact, it was highly encouraged that women do not run because doctors warned that if they did their uterus would fall out. This myth started in 1898, when a doctor in Berlin wrote that “violent movements of the body can cause a shift in the position and a loosening of the uterus as well as prolapse and bleeding, with resulting sterility, thus defeating a woman’s true purpose in life, i.e., the bringing forth of strong children.” Therefore, doctors viewed exercise as not appropriate for women from a medical point of view.
In recent years, women have proven this myth false. Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967. Her high school’s basketball coach, who was a woman, told her that women would never play the men’s version of basketball because the “excessive number of jump balls could displace the uterus.” But she did it anyway.
Marian Marshall, a mother of two and grandmother of four was a teen in the 60’s. She said she remembered loving to play soccer and running. But it was never an option to play as part of a sports team. She recalls “Women just finally decided, we have lives too. We don’t want to just stay at home and take care of babies. And they decided to become more self-independent.” She went on to tell me the story of Billie Jean and Bobby Riggs. Bobby Riggs had been one of the top tennis players in the 1940’s. Riggs challenged Billie to a game of tennis saying that there was just no way that a woman could beat a man in tennis. But ”She wiped the court with his butt,” Marian laughed. This changed the thought of women being in sports. Now we have national women's leagues and national sports teams just for women.
Some people have mixed feelings about females being able to play sports. Dante Zavala is a junior at Samueli Academy and enjoys playing soccer. He says “It helps them (women) gain their rights. They’re able to do the same thing as the other sex” He believes it is absolutely okay for women to be in sports and they should. However according to a t-shirt sold by a clothing company called ‘Live Love Gameday’, girls who love baseball and football are rare unicorns that men should “wife up” ASAP. This is making people on the internet angry because it is saying that women who play or like sports are rare as if women can’t like sports?
Women have been fighting for equality for, well, forever. Women still don’t get equal pay to men for equal work. Women still aren’t seen as being able to do what men can do. And still, some people see it as wrong for women to play sports because it isn’t “ladylike” or simply because they can’t do what men can do. We still have a ways to go.
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