Attention problems

Alana Cervera, Online Managing Editor, Sports Columnist

The Title IX law enacted 47 years ago states that any school receiving federal financial assistance cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. This law addresses gender bias, sexual harassment and violence in and outside the classroom.

It is supposed to hinder schools from treating women unfairly, considering there is a lack of respect given to female athletes nationwide, including at Naperville Central.

The latest controversy sparked over the cross town doubleheader basketball game on Dec. 7 at Naperville North. The boys and girls games were scheduled on the same day with the boys playing earlier. But a majority of the students left as the girls warmed up for their game.

Supportive family and friends were the only ones left in the mostly empty bleacher seats after the boys played. A very small portion of the student section was filled, and most of the Rowdies were gone. After hearing this, I was extremely disappointed. Student leaders and students came to watch the boys game but didn’t stay to see their just-as-equal peers play on the court. This is one example of the nationwide problem of gender bias also present at Central.

Lahnee Pavlovich writes in Athlete Assessments, “In America 40 percent of sportspeople are women, however only 6-8 percent of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. And women-only sports stories add up to just 3.5 percent of all sports stories in the four major U.S. newspapers.”

It seems as though if the coverage isn’t there, the money or salary won’t be either.

Pavolich adds: “Coaches in women’s team sports at college level earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by head coaches of men’s teams.”

This issue is persistent around the world, but how can it be improved at Central?

I believe we can take one step toward solving the issue of gender bias through having a girl Rowdie. This has been debated at Central for the past couple of years, and I think we’re way overdue for female representation in the student section. Redhawk Rowdies heavily influence attendance at sporting events. They’re senior student leaders who hype up the crowd with exciting music and enthusiastic cheering. The student body believes if Rowdies are at a game, then it must be the cool thing to attend.

Each year, head Rowdies pick the next leaders after they graduate and a majority have to approve of who takes their places. Having a girl Rowdie would encourage the student population to stay for their games.

Michael Graber, a sports cinematographer and father of two girls, agrees.

“Money will go to women’s sports as soon as the audience wants to watch women, so the best way to support women athletes is by attending women’s sports in the first place,” he told CNN.

Additionally, coverage, equal salaries and support can be recognized for girls sports.

The tampon company Always has produced a video series called “Like a Girl” that has gotten nationwide attention. With over 90 million views on YouTube and shared by over 1 million viewers, it seeks to lower the stigma of the term, “she plays…like a girl.” This turns an insult into a confident movement. A movement that recognizes female athletes and the negative attention they’ve been receiving for too long. So, for all the girls out there, I say play like a girl. Kick a ball, run a race, do a flip and swim the lap, like a girl.

Let’s call for female leadership in underrepresented schools and communities. Let’s get more coverage and support for female athletes at whatever level they’re playing at, high school or professional. Let’s finally treat boys and girls equally in sports with equal salaries as coaches and athletes. I applaud Always for shedding light on this issue. I’m proud to know that they’re speaking for all girls. But I hope Central comes to this conclusion as well with a girl Rowdie and more students in the stands for girls sports.

Girls sports are just as exciting as boys, and I encourage students and people in general to not make judgments about them until you’ve seen an actual game or competition. They can be pretty cool, and I can say that because I was used to be a part of them.

So, here’s to taking steps toward equal sports opportunities, training facilities, salaries for paid female athletes and coverage.

Here’s to saying “like a girl” in a positive way and celebrating all female athletes at Central and across the country.