In less than a week, I’m taking my three kids to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament in Vancouver. I’m not sure of the wisdom of this, given that they proclaimed the Major League Baseball game I took them to last month “the most boring thing ever,” but regardless, the tickets are purchased and in hand.
I want my kids to grow up having been exposed to women’s sports just as much as men’s sports. Having role models is an important part of learning to have one’s own dreams, and my wife and I want our two daughters and our son to look back at their childhood thinking that it was just as exciting to attend the finals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup as it was to attend, say, the Rose Bowl or the World Series.
When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be a major league baseball pitcher. I read books about baseball, watched The Baseball Bunch, and of course watched my beloved Cincinnati Reds whenever I could. When I was old enough to join a team, everyone told me that girls couldn’t play baseball. I would have to play softball instead.
Now, I love softball and still play it to this day, but there’s part of me that vividly remembers being told that girls couldn’t do the thing that I dreamed of doing, and that I would have to give up one of my long-held ambitions from childhood.
This was in the early 80’s, and girls weren’t playing on Little League teams then or pitching no-hitters like they are now. But for all the progress, women’s sports still aren’t on an equal playing field with men’s. Just look at some of the soccer coverage these past couple of months: while top FIFA officials were being arrested for accepting bribes for where the future Men’s World Cup tournaments would be played, they were also ignoring a lawsuit from the women’s team about playing the Women’s World Cup on artificial turf and turning down offers from the Scott Grass Company to make over all the turf fields into grass, for free.
By the time my kids are old enough to be aware of such things, I hope examples like this will be fewer and farther between. For right now, I hope they manage to absorb a little of the excitement of the days and appreciation for the athletes – and to incorporate that into their own self-image and dreams.
Rebecca read an interview with Christine Sinclair where she said she wears number 12 because it was her idol, Toronto Blue Jays player Roberto Alomar’s number. It’s amazing to think that the current generation of girls will be able to say when they grow up that the reason they wear number 12 is because of Christine Sinclair.
All of this is a big reason why we started Fangirl Shirts – not just to make T-shirts (though we do that too, and we love it), but to make a statement with T-shirts. We love strong women, whether they are TV characters or real-life athletes. By being a part of the chorus of voices out there celebrating awesome women, we hope that we can make the world a little better for all the girls who have dreams – no matter what they are.