Commentary: There is room for women in sports, too

Jolene Nacapuy, Editor in Chief
Jolene Nacapuy, Editor in Chief

Women are not acknowledged enough or shown much respect in the sports world. This has gone on long enough.

Women are starting to break the barriers, but it seems they remain in a man’s world, and that needs to change. Women are constantly treated as second-class citizens in the sports world. They have a limited role in professional sports and to me, that is not OK.

The world of sports, particularly professional sports, is dominated by men – not only as athletes, but as coaches, officials and sports journalists.

In April, Sarah Thomas became the NFL’s first female full-time official. She made her officiating debut Aug. 15, in a preseason game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals.

Thomas is a 19-year veteran of football officiating at the high school and college levels. In 2009, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Thomas became the first female official to work a major collegiate bowl game.

This NFL season, Thomas continued to make history by becoming the first woman to officiate a regular season football game for the NFL. She then served as a line judge in the Chiefs vs. Texans game Sept. 13.

This past summer, two women made their way into the professional sports world as coaches.

Jen Welter, 37, made history in July as the first woman to be a full-time coach for an NFL team, when the Arizona Cardinals hired her as an assistant coach. During the Cardinals training camp and preseason, Welter worked as an intern assistant coach and worked with linebackers.

In February, Welter became the first female coach in a men’s professional football league, when the Texas Revolution of the Champions Indoor Football League hired her to coach linebackers and special teams. Another female coach made her way into the professional sports world with the NBA.

During the NBA Summer League, Becky Hammon, 38, assistant coach of San Antonio Spurs, became the first female head coach in the NBA Summer League and led them to the championships.

Yet, with women doing big things like this, our society still tends to be sexist when it comes to sports. Many see sports as something only a man can do.

We have all heard that “women can’t do the same job a man can do” or “women are not as good as men” every time a situation like this comes up. This attitude breaks down a women’s confidence.

People have told me that I know nothing about sports because of my gender and to me, that is funny, yet hurtful.

When I tell people that I’m a journalism major, they automatically think that I want to be on the air as a reporter. There’s nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong. I respect the people that can be on the air and do their thing, but that isn’t what I want to do.

When I tell people that I want to write about sports, they give me the weirdest looks and just ask me why? There are women out there who are sports writers, but so many people miss the fact that women know sports just as well as men.

It is that stereotype many need to get over and I want to help make that happen.

My passion for sports is an important part of my life. I grew up in a family, full of fans of many different teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Yankees and the San Francisco 49ers. Growing up, there was always a game on and it was a time for all of us to bond, so it was just something I lived with my whole life.

Entering college, I knew I wanted to write, but I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I loved watching sports, but was not sure about writing about them. I gave it a try my sophomore year with the Campus Times. At first I was scared, but with the help of my sports editor at the time, Julian Mininsohn and the rest of the Campus Times, I was able to get past that hurdle and thrive. As the semester went on, I continued to write about different sports, such as football, basketball and cross-country. The next semester I became an assistant sports editor and then became sports editor for a year and eventually, editor in chief.

At the beginning of the year, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I interned with Dodgers Nation and Lakers Nation. Although I’m not a Dodgers fan, I was extremely grateful to have that opportunity. Along with that, to be able to write for my favorite basketball team, the Lakers, was just the perfect start to my year. No words were able to describe the moment when I received the email, but I sure did cry.

During this time, I gained a great friendship with the staff and they kept me on as a contributing writer past the end of my internship. I also learned a different way to write articles in a professional setting and get my foot in the door. I was also one of the two female interns in the office, along with one of the reporters for Lakers Nation and trying to stand out during my internship was difficult.

Regardless, I did just that by being myself and writing well, but at the same time, not losing my voice. To have this opportunity as a sports journalist is one that I will definitely not forget. When writing about sports, I enter a whole new realm or dimension and feel like this is my game – my game that I’m able to control and I’ll always be able to win.

To be able to walk on the court, the field, sit in the media box or locker rooms, and to write about sports teams, hopefully my favorite ones, would be a dream come true and I refuse to let anyone take that away. No words will break me down because of my gender, telling me that because I’m a woman, I don’t know sports or don’t fit in that world.

I’m pretty sure that I could do the job as well as a man, or maybe even better.

This is a huge deal in the sports world because a woman being hired in a male-dominated world, such as sports, is something that should be celebrated. This is a good thing because things in this type of world should be fair and just. All is fair in love and basketball, but maybe it should be more like all is fair in life and sports. It will be the day a woman being in the sports world is common and with this, I hope to hit a home run in this world.

Jolene Nacapuy, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief for the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu and on Twitter @_jjolenenacapuy.

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