by JENN LEYVA
In general, I’m not a fan of sports. I grew up going to baseball games, soccer games, football games, and whatever else my family thought would be fun.
My parents and friends would cheer a team on, and I would sit wondering how long until I could get a snack or go home. Playing sports was better, a season of soccer, t-ball, basketball, and even a bit of dance.
I hated most of this, but like many kids forced to complete some task, I’m grateful that I had those experiences.
I will never play basketball again (if all goes according to plan), but I appreciate being a part of a girl’s sports team, an atmosphere where girls are encouraged to be tough, strong, and physical and to show ourselves and each other that we’re just as capable as the boys.
I still loathe watching most sports, but I’ve found myself engrossed in the Olympics, particularly the women’s portion. Part of the appeal of women’s sports for me is how we showcase the accomplishment of women. Even Jane Fonda thought of her fitness routines as a pro-women agenda out to “break the weaker sex mold.” Sarah Roble’s ability to lift over 500 pounds should be able to shut everyone up about women being inherently delicate and in need of constant care.
Somehow, that message has gotten lost, so instead of cheering on our best athletes in their feats of human strength, speed, and will, we are commenting on jiggling arms. And make no mistake, as it’s been pointed out before, this is still misogyny.
There are people out there who think that the solution to misogyny taking over women’s sports is to ask for you to not look. Or at least to not talk about these bodies. In many ways, these people are right. These Olympians are not for you too look at. They are here to perform majestic feats of athleticism and perhaps to stir up some good ‘ol fashioned nationalism (USA! USA! USA!). These bodies are here to lift weights and swim and dive and run and whatever else these athletes need to do to show their athleticism.