What is the foundation of EQUALITY? It is the ability to see the similarity in things rather than the differences between them. Whether we like it or not, we all carry biases. And which is worse: to carry these knowingly or unknowingly? With recent events, our country’s biases and prejudices have reared its ugly head again. People from all walks of life are speaking and acting out passionately. Regardless of the way this passion is expressed, the majority consensus is WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!
ESPN recently tweeted a quote from Richard Sherman in an article via Sports Illustrated: “…in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man, regardless of race… You really get to know one another, not judge based off nonsense.” This is a great quote and a great point! Sports breaks down so many racial biases and prejudices because it sheds the irrelevant criteria of skin color when talent has the opportunity to shine through. What would sports be today if baseball did not sign Jackie Robinson or if football did not award a contract to Kenny Washington or if boxing promoters did not sponsor Jack Johnson to fight the reigning champion?
It took special people, people with vision, influence and perseverance, to take a chance and break the barriers doing something that no one else had done before – develop athletes whose talent was already burgeoning, look past the “nonsense” as Richard Sherman so poignantly states, and provide the opportunity for equality to sports.
We are only overlooking one thing: our biases, and our conditioned inability to see that we have prejudices. In Richard Sherman’s quote he states: “…in sports, you really have a love and appreciation for your fellow man…” Did you notice that? Probably not. Why? Because ALL of us have been conditioned generation after generation to separate genders in sports. We have been convinced for so many years that this is just the way it is – men cannot compete with/against women – we take it for granted. Richard Sherman was not biased in using “man” – he was right! What NFL player trained alongside female athletes? NONE!
ALL of the professional major sports – baseball, basketball, football and hockey – have men’s leagues and women’s leagues. Does this not occur to anyone? Is the prejudice that deep? Or is it our conditioning that cannot allow us (the sports establishments, the athletes themselves, or the spectators) to look past this judgement based on nonsense? I guess if we still cannot see this nonsense with race, how are we ever going to see it with gender? Or maybe the “reason” is actual ability based on physical stature. Hmmm… I know many women athletes that if given the same opportunity for training and development alongside their male counterparts from a young age, they would hold their own. Even if you are not convinced that this “stature” point is viable, then perhaps we can agree that if the established sports do not provide the opportunity or platform to defy its long-standing biases, then a new exciting, non-stop, non-contact sport is what we need in order to find gender equality in sports. Enter SABAKIBALL stage right. IT’S A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME!