• Dipika Menon

Be A Sport For Equality


I have been meaning to write this for a long time now, but I wanted the press wave to tide over before I could gather my thoughts and talk about why I wanted to write. Growing up, the only sport I played was Chess. (Now before you tell me that it’s not a sport, let me stop you right there. I know.) But it’s not like I didn’t try. While in school, most of the boys would pick up either a cricket kit or a football, and off they’d go to play, while the girls would sit around chatting, talking about homework or maybe, at the most, a game of carrom or whatever sport that didn’t require rigorous exercise. I blame the system. A system that conditions us to believe that girls can’t play sports. A system that makes fun of a girl trying to join a boys’ team for football. A system that ridicules girls that are into a sport - at least at a young age.


You don’t believe me. Let me break it down for you.


We all remember the timeless movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Classic example. Remember the girl, Anjali? Played sports, super cool, best friend to Rahul. But who did Rahul fall for? - Tina. Now I’m not here to bash up Tina’s character. I mean, she too, had her fair share of great qualities. But I am here to smash your idea of what a ‘successful’ woman looks like. Rahul loves Tina (which is great.) But that’s just because she falls into the norms of what society conditions women into - Can sing (check), has long hair (check), is shy (check). Soon enough, when the character dies and Rahul meets Anjali again, many years later, and he falls for the new Anjali - Can sing and this time dance too (check), has long hair (check), is shy (check).

So in essence what I am saying is, Rahul never fell for the people behind these characters. All he did fall for was how they conveniently ‘fit’ into certain roles, norms and personas that society defined for him, you and me, which then trickles down into our very real lives. We are conditioned into thinking that an Anjali will end up alone till she becomes a Tina just to be discovered by a Rahul. Now I am not saying that this is the reason behind women not entering sports. But it is a MAJOR reason for women not choosing sports. And I am no exception to this either.


In high school, I remember wanting to play cricket. So I walked up to the boys in my school and requested them to let me play. I remember standing at the crease with my friend, the wicket-keeper, behind me and a bowler who I didn’t know. As the boy came running towards me, my friend screamed - “throw it underhand, you’re throwing the ball to a girl.” - I don’t feel bad because he said that. I feel bad because I agreed with him. I said to myself - oh he’s being such a sweet friend, he doesn’t want me to get hurt. - And this is where I inflicted a grave wound onto myself. By just telling myself that this was okay.


But things got worse. Because I had played this excruciating 6 balls worth of an over, the school coach walked up to me the next day and said this - “Hey you’re the girl who wants to play cricket. There’s a match next month and we need 2 girl players to be a part of the team for us to qualify to play.” - This is strike TWO. Becoming a prop for a team. But I was thrilled because my 12-year-old brain thought that this was equality. And that is the problem.

I remember seeing this ad by Always. It said #LIKEAGIRL and portrayed how we at a vulnerable age start believing that maybe things like sports aren’t really for people like us. So when a woman chooses sports as her career, she has fought through so much to get to where she is. She has fought through not having sports equipment that’s tailored to her needs. She has fought through people telling her how she could be happier doing anything else. She has fought through bias in selection. SHE HAS FOUGHT the wage-gap, gender roles, potentially losing out on those really cute guys who like ‘girls’.


But she has also fought for equality, passion for the sport, the thrill while defying the norm. Fought for a chance to become equal. Fought.

So when she walks out on that field, on that stadium, in front of a billion eyes on her, she knows that she has fought to get to where she is. And so when you say that a woman should be paid the same as a man, this means that Marta should be paid the same as Neymar. So when Brazil joined Australia, Norway and New Zealand and decided to pay their women’s and men’s football teams the same, it’s no favour they’re doing the women. It is acknowledging the fact that this gender pay gap exists, and doing something about it. So that the next time a young girl picks up a football, a tennis racquet, a cricket bat, anywhere in the world, she doesn’t have to think about how economically convenient it would be to be a pretty ‘girl’, but on the contrary how ‘being a GIRL’ and slaying every unwritten rule is all that matters and the next time she walks out on that field, she is a goal digger!


While this might be still a little far away, we as women can surely make smart choices about our money, and Basis helps women like you and me to make these smarter choices. #equalpay #uswnt #soccer #equality #alexmorgan #tobinheath #nwsl #meganrapinoe #christenpress #equalrights #football #genderequality #feminism #alikrieger #ashlynharris #kelleyohara #equalpayday #women #woso #lindseyhoran #julieertz #roselavelle #womenempowerment #emilysonnett #womensupportingwomen #alyssanaeher #nike #sammewis #crystaldunn #bhfyp

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