This I believe…

Jenna - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: equality, sports

My philosophy: Girls should feel they are able to compete on the same level as men in all things in life.

The old days women weren’t allowed to compete with men. It wasn’t fashionable. It was frowned on. Men ruled and women followed.

In many of the older books I’ve read, competition was just for men. Sports is one obvious example. In elementary school, it was never “normal” for girls to run around on a basketball court or play soccer with the boys at recess. Instead, girls were feeding their dolls fake food while pretending to play house with the rest of the girls, all of us in dresses, or swinging on the swings to see who can reach higher.

As for me, there were times I enjoyed playing house, but there were times I loved playing soccer with the boys. I played tough. I loved the competition, the ability to prove myself to all the boys. I was never big or broad, like most typical athletes, but the shock of my abilities that overwhelmed the boys was enough satisfaction for me.

When I was younger, I spent many Sundays watching my brothers play different sports having the times of their lives. Seeing how I enjoyed watching, my parents signed me up for intramural soccer when I was 4 and immediately I fell in love. We were young, so the teams started out coed. As friendly and fun as the games were, my favorite part was hearing my parents and brothers cheering me on, and encouraging me to run faster, or kick harder. An adrenaline rush took over my body every time I had the ball, or even when I’d hear other kids’ parents cheering me on- the kids who would be chasing a bee on the next field over. I loved proving not only to the people around me, but to myself, that if I pushed myself hard enough, I would be amazed at how much I can accomplish. I learned how to be comfortable competing.

Once middle school started, the boys became bigger and more serious about sports. Because of the intensity, it was always more appealing to me to watch the boys’ games than it was to watch the girls’ games. It was the aggressive competitiveness that all of the boys on the team displayed; it was the drive to win that attracted such fans. Not as contact as girls’ sports. As more and more fans would fleet from our games to the boys games, it was disappointing for us. However from that disappointment, grew more ambition and the will to compete at such a level that may not be as contact, but certainly as exciting. We worked longer, pushed ourselves harder, and got back the respect we all deserve.

It’s not just sports that women should want to compete on the same level as men. It goes for the workplace, the office, the classroom, and even everyday experiences that women are just as equal as men if they work hard in whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.