In one week, I plan to be sitting in Nationals Park watching the season opener of the Nationals. I’ve been waiting several long, cold months for this! Baseball is one of the few sports I really enjoy watching, live or on tv. It is also one of the only sports both my boyfriend and I can watch together.
I played a lot of sports growing up. It was something that my mother didn’t have a choice in – she would not have been allowed. I remember several of the girls I played with in elementary school wanting to play sports professionally. We all wanted to be the first woman to play in the NBA. As we saw more women become professional athletes in basketball, soccer and volleyball, it was exciting to see a real possibility in the future for women in sports.
There has never been a move to form a women’s baseball league since the All-American Girls Baseball League, which only lasted 11 years. The fight for women and girls in sports began in earnest in the 1960s and made headway in the 1970s. In 1972, Congress passed Title IX.
The law banned discrimination on the basis of sex that receives federal funds. While meant to increase opportunities in medical and law schools, in 1974 the regulating agency decided the law also required schools to give comparable athletic opportunities to women. Within ten years later, in 1984 there were ten thousand athletic scholarships available to women, and thirty different national women’s collegiate championships.
Women play softball in college and the Olympics. But there is no place for women to play the game professionally. Why have women had such a hard time breaking into professional sports? Why are just some sports okay, and why don’t some last? There is something wonderful about the coming of baseball season: warm weather, sunshine, green grass, signs of summer coming. While I sit in the sunshine next week, and in the weeks and months to come, I will keep in mind this is just another place women are still left out. Little girls playing softball should have female role models to look up, and a hope that they can play the sport professionally one day.
Pictured: Miko Konishi, pitcher for the Hyogo Swing Smileys of Japan’s Girls Professional Baseball League