Bound To Be Different


Bound To Be Different Essay, Research Paper


People have many heroes in their lives that they look up to, but as one

ad states:

“Who are your heroes? Did you name an actor? Did you name an athlete?

(Did you name any women?) Why don’t we think of women as heroes? Maybe it’s

because no one ever shows them to us. We have to take the time to find them,

celebrate them, and make sure these heroes are seen, so we can find the

inspiration to achieve whatever we dream. Look around. We are surrounded by

strong, courageous, accomplished women. Any one of them could be a hero. A

hero could be you.” (Sports Illustrated for Women, Nike Advertisement)

From the time when women were allowed to play under the “Only Skirt Game”

rules, such as golf, tennis and yachting, during the women’s first Olympics

in 1900, which prohibited women who were going to compete in the Olympics to

only play in sports that involved wearing a skirt. Now women have their own

professional leagues such as, the LPGA and the WNBA, which enable women to

show men that they can do the same and sometimes better. Women sport’s have

helped our society to see women in different situations besides just wearing

aprons. Society for many years has not been able to let go of the housewife

image, and allow women to become the multi-million dollar sports athletes

that men are today. If women never had the opportunity to become the

individuals they are now, their impact has affected women all over the world

in believing they can lead us into the new millennium with a strong outlook

on women’s sports from today and years to come.

At the beginning of the century, women tried to create a gateway of

equality for women through the Olympics. As “1996 marked the 100th

anniversary of the modern Olympics and the 96th anniversary of women in the

Olympics, women were not allowed to participate in the first Olympic games,”

[but] “in 1900, women competed in just three sports: tennis, golf, and



(Women in the Olympics). It was a disgrace to see women, because of societal

differences, not able to be admitted into the first Olympics. Though, when

Margaret Abbot got her chance to compete in the Olympics in 1900, she decided

to step up in golf, where she became the first woman to receive a gold medal

in the history of women in the Olympics (Sherrow 350). After three Olympics

had gone by, women’s were trying to be equal with men. Women from all over

the world decided that it was time to stop the agony of self-pity, and

declared an Olympics for women. After being segregated time after time at

the previous Olympics, women took action and had their own Olympics in Paris,

called the Jeux Feminins in 1921, which showed women that they were capable

of running the 800, or high jumping, or even swimming the English Channel

faster than any man. A woman who started feuds in trying to become better

than men was Gertrude Ederle who knew that she wanted to make a difference,

and leave an impact on people that told them that she was more than just a

woman who could swim, but also a woman who could swim better than any man.

Ederle knew that people had tried to swim the channel before, men even swam

the channel but not as fast as Ederle. She swam the English Channel in a

record time of 14 hours, 39 minutes and 24 seconds, in 1926, that was better

than the men’s record by one hour and 59 minutes (Zilboorg 427). This showed

all men and everyone else that women could do the unbelievable, while

swimming free-style (Sherrow 351). Ederle and Abbot showed the Olympics

that they were women enough, so in response to their attainment, the general

public helped their women friends get new events into the Olympics. After

1900, the Olympic committee added on more events for women to compete in,

like gymnastics, diving, rowing, basketball and more. All these events

represented the heart-ache and effort each woman had to suffer through, to

get the public to recognize that women could run, sprint, jump, leap, hurdle,

row, putt and swim just as well as anyone else.

At the beginning of the 20th century to the end of the 1920’s, women

tried to gain some rights from the suffrage movements to attain the same

rights as men. Most woman have not been able to realize that their right to

vote was one of the key movements that helped society


at large to see that women could play sports and vote for senators and

presidents at the same time. “Today, women in nearly all countries have the

same voting rights as men. But they did not begin such rights until the

early 1900’s, and they had to overcome strong opposition to get them” (World

Book 382). There were many events, because of women’s movements helped women

to get new events added into the Olympics, which consisted of women’s

springboard diving events, track and field and all swimming events (Sherrow

351). In 1912, nine western states adopted the women’s suffrage legislation,

by pursuing a suffrage act (19th Amendment). The affect of the act not only

helped women get a little bit closer to gaining rights, but also gave Olympic

committees the right to allow swimming and diving events into the Olympic

games in 1912, after the acceptance of Ederle’s exceptional performance in

the channel (Sherrow 350). This shocked people into believing that allowing

new events was because of the suffragist act, it was somewhat accurate to

find out that the CEO of the Olympics was letting women finally have more fun

in the Olympics before they began to picket and get rowdy about unfair

rights. Finally, when the suffragists meant business in the political

state-of-mind, and went parading in silent vigils and having hunger strikes

to support their legislation, which later resulted in the 19th amendment

being ratified on August 26, 1920, the sports community took another strike

into taking advantage of the great opportunity that was being held in front

of them (19th Amendment). Within two years Florence McCutcheon took the

power she felt women were inhancing, and decided to show everyone that women

were as powerful as they were on the picket line as they were playing sports.

When McCutcheon defeated the top men’s bowler, Jimmy Smith, in the

exhibition match held in Denver in 1927, people for the first time, were able

to say that women were becoming more independent in result to their new

rights. In 1928, track and field were added on to women’s events in the

Olympics. The two events were points that all women should be treated equal,

because they already had their voting rights. Now they knew that they were

almost equal with men in the sports arena (Sherrow 351).


As women were gaining rights from the 19th amendment, they were also

losing respect from Title IX, which states that “No person in the United

States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be

denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education

program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” (History of Title

IX). Since the ratification of Title IX, female college athletes have been

able to receive scholarships, and hope for a higher education (Women in the

Olympics). Men and their coaches felt that since women were gaining more

equality, that it wouldn’t be that long until women were going to be treated

just as male athletes. When the title was enacted in 1972 in Congress,

society didnot realize until later that it was helping women to get a better

education. Male athletes thought that the title was taking their education,

scholarships, equipment, opportunities and funding away from men’s sports,

and giving it to the women, but as they found out, it was only to help women

get some equality from the public, it had nothing to do with taking anything

away from men. Men thought they were getting cheated from the title, some

people were actually getting deceived. Women coaches, because of the title

were receiving higher salaries, thus making the coach population decrease to

make it look like the government was actually giving more according to the

title (Women in the Olympics). The title was suppose to be a gateway into

the next step of equality, but instead was a conflict that showed women that

our society was not okay giving women another chance to become athletes.

Society had set many barriers to get women to quit sports, but one of the

worst encumbrances that women had to go through, was when the public opened

the doors to homophobia in the girl’s locker rooms. “Widespread homophobia

sometimes discourage[d] girls from engaging in athletics, and often

discourage[d] women from pursuing a career in athletics coaching and

administration” (Women in the Olympics). The factor of lesbians with the

other girls scared a lot of people into quitting sports, which was just what

our society and men wanted to happen. Homophobia created an incarceration

with women that made them feel less than


human. Some lesbians got mad at the other girls for taking all of the media

attention, while straight ladies were also mad at the lesbians for beong

associated with them, and even lesbians dislike lesbians (Dudley 195). The

surprising news was when the nation came out with this shocking discovery,

that it made it more comfortable for women, at this time to come out and tell

their story. Our society has made it clear that it is healthier to be

straight, Madeline Manning Mims came out and told her story of how people

treated her differently just because she was a lesbian. The media figured

out that Mims was a great athlete, which gave them the final thought that

Mims must have been a lesbian and not all woman, because no regular female

can make a record setting time in the 800 race. Our general public was a

cruel one, but they got their point across, and it made women think for

another moment if they really wanted to play sports. Women were stronger

than the encounter of lesbians in the locker room, the bashing of women to

not succed in athletics had to be stopped.

As women’s sports began to become larger in the nation, young women

started to look up to their women motivators who struggled through the worst

and achieved the greatest, and what they had to go through to get to the

results…professional women’s sports. “The time when women have to play

sports against men to make headlines has passed. The time when women’s

athletic careers expired at the end of their college scholarships has passed.

The time when women’s sports makes a television appearance once a year, or

once every Olympiad, has passed. The time has come when women play in

sold-out stadiums, earn more than $100,000 a year playing professionally and

show up on television in ads for Nike” (Dorson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

One of the greatest femals athletes of all time, who helped shut down the

stereotype of women not being equal with men, was Billie Jean King. In 1973,

Jean won over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, which at

the time changed how men saw women and how women saw themselves. After the

match and years of hard work, businessmen realized the potential in women’s

sports (Berlow 42-43). For women, this was the breakthrough


they had been waiting for their whole lives, to actually get a time to shine

in the spot light, and receive recognition for what they had been doing for

centuries. Professional women’s sports took a long time to get assembled,

but with the money and heart of the NBA’s sponsorship, the WNBA begun women’s

awakening of men and women equality. Following the announcement that the

Women’s NBA will be tipping off in June of 1998, there was a lot of

excitement from both men and women to finally see the result of women being

able to strive to their highest point of success. After the recruitment of

the WNBA, basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman-Cline, who signed with the

New York Liberty stated: “It’s changing little by little, but I don’t think

anything needs to be given to us or handed to us. I think that we need to

earn what we get. I think we have begun to do that, with woman purchasing

merchandise, women watching TV. In all the key areas that you would say

show me, we’re showing you” (Dorson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Being able to bounce back, and become something she is not supposed to

be, is one of the greatest qualities of women in sports. “Without the

struggles, the number of athletic scholarships available to women at NCAA

Division I schools in 1991- approximately 13,000- would likely not have

increased almost a hundred-fold since 1972 passage of Title IX; the American

Basketball league, which tipped off last fall, and women’s NBA would likely

not exist; and major sports wear companies such as Nike would not have signed

basketball stars Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, and Teresa Edwards or skier

Picabo Street to endorsement deals.” For the young ladies in high school,

participation before Title IX was only 294,015 girls, but after the title

there were ten times the females-2,240,461 athletes (Dorson, Fort Worth

Star-Telegram). Women have gone through a lot of struggle to get where they

are today, and if it weren’t for the hurdles there would be no reason for

them to jump.

Women have been great athletes just as long as men have, but since women

have just been able to show their efforts in arenas, they no longer have to

play behind closed doors. Women are finally being appreciated as one of the

guys… hard working American athletes. “For centuries,

women’s sports and athletes were viewed as synonymous with men and with manly

activities and


attributes. Sports required strength, speed, power, and a muscular physique;

competition in sports required one to be outgoing and aggressive. These

traits were traditionally considered to be masculine and manly” (Sherrow ix).

Society put these lies into women’s brains, and expected females to believe

them. What society does not understand is that when women play sports they

“are less likely to be harassed, attacked or depressed, and more likely to

graduate from high school and college as leaders” (Dorson, Fort Worth

Star-Telegram). Sports for women, not only gave them a chance to be

different, but also to show society that just about anyone could be a part of

sports. “First, [women's sports] provides [women] with the opportunity to

express sides of our personality that have little chance to reveal

elsewhere. Second, sports provides [women] with a chance to be different, to

express our individuality by placing the[ir] personal stamp of our own style.

Uniqueness is expressed by our choice of sport-tennis or softball, mountain

climbing or bowling, volleyball or surfing. It also comes through our style

of play- power of finesse, drop shot or smash, front running or charging

from the pack. Everywhere in sports we can find ways to be ourselves, to

exercise our individuality and celebrate our specialness” (Dudley 182).

Society thought that women in sports, and having fewer women in the kitchen

could not have the benefits that it has had so far.

Women’s sports may have started a long time ago, but really didn’t start

affecting people until the beginning of the 20th century. Women have been

through so many obstacles to not be observed as equal as men. We as a

society, need to give all women whether in sports or not, recognition for

their hard work through the centuries. Women have been shut down by the

Olympics, picketed for their voting rights, had Title IX back them up, gone

through the fright of homophobia and acceptance, and finally to the peak of

the obstacle course-professional sports. Even though women’s sports, in the

high school level still don’t have cheerleaders cheering them on, or a

packed crowd at the championship game, we always have people like Natalie

Gulbis who are willing to show men and rest of the public that we aren’t

afraid, and are willing to do anything

to get to the top. It’s taken a lot of time, but I think that people can

actually say that women are


finally at the same stand point as men in sports. We might not be able to

dunk yet, or bench press 300 pounds at the barbell, but we surely are on our

way. Our society can finally say that they made a mistake in trying to stop

something that is going to change the rest of the world, forever and in the


If people do have heroes that they look up to, who happens to be a woman,


“Does a hero know she’s a hero if no one tells her? Do you know a hero no

one else knows? A hero doesn’t have to save a busload of school kids from

certain disaster. Or score the winning point in the big game. A hero can be

anyone who inspires you, anyone you look up to, anyone who cheers you on,

makes you better than you were before-just as they made themselves better

than they were before. Do you know a hero? Tell her. Then tell everyone”

(Sports Illustrated for Women, Nike Advertisement).


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