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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

By Maggie Roache, Nazareth, and Abbe Murphy, Downers Grove North

Over the last year, the stereotype of what it means to throw “like a girl” has received a lot of attention, both from the media and the public. Thanks to campaigns, commercials and trending hashtags, many people reevaluated what the phrase meant to them and made a serious effort to change its meaning. However, this did not solve all of the problems. There are still many sexists assumptions made about girls involved in sports or girls who like sports that need to be faced. Listed below are some of these stereotypes these women deal with and why they are completely inaccurate assumptions.

1. When a girl says she likes a team, she probably doesn’t know anything about it.

Everyone has seen the meme where a boy texts a girl asking if she likes a team, and when she replies yes, tricks her into talking about a character from “Jimmy Neutron” or some other random show as if they are a player on the team. However, not everyone knows every single player on the teams they support— there are 25 players on a baseball team roster, 23 on hockey teams and football can have up to 53 men on a roster. Additionally the roster constantly fluctuates—especially in baseball— so it’s pretty impossible to know every single person unless you only study that team for a living, which most teenagers do not. Plus, you are allowed to like a team or a sport and find it interesting without having to prove your interest by reciting random statistics about them. So let girls support whoever they want, and stop quizzing them on trivial things for your own entertainment.

2. Girls don’t understand how the game works.

Many girls grew up playing baseball, basketball, football and more in the backyard right alongside their brothers. They will ask for help if they need it, but don’t assume that just because they are girls they are incapable of understanding how the game works. There is no need to “mansplain” the intricacies of a sport when, most likely, females have at least a general idea of how the sport works. Raised in a society where the culture is so heavily influenced by the sports industry, it is safe to say that most females will have had some type of exposure to sports throughout their life thus far, so cut them some slack when it comes to having to know the complete rulebook for a sport in order to be considered a “true fan.”

3. Girls watch sports just so they can talk about them with guys.

Just because a girl’s boyfriend likes the Cubs does not mean that she only likes the Cubs to impress him. As weird as it may sound, some girls actually like watching sports for their own enjoyment, not because they want to impress others. Now more than ever, girls in grade school and high school are getting involved in sports, so it does make sense that a girl’s love for playing soccer may translate into her love for cheering on the U.S. National Team. Just like their male counterparts, many young females involved in sports look to professional athletes as role models in their given sport. Because of this, it isn’t that far stretched of an idea to say these aspiring female athletes and many others may watch sports for their own personal enjoyment.

4. Girls watch sports because they think that the players are attractive.

Believe it or not, many girls do actually find the games themselves entertaining. A lot of them play those sports that they are watching, like basketball and baseball, so it is only logical that they would have a genuine interest in it. It’s true that some professional athletes, like Kris Bryant from the Cubs, may be of special interest to some female viewers. Despite this, the attractiveness of athletes seldom plays a large role in female viewership, especially because viewers usually can’t even see the players up close at games or on TV.

5. Girls will not pay attention if you bring them to a sports game.

Many girls like going to sporting events for the same reasons guys do. The food, atmosphere and energy of cheering on your team in person are just as exciting for girls as they are for guys. Regardless of gender, people who are interested enough in sports to decide to go to a live sporting event are going to enjoy it.

6. Girls who are into sports are all lesbians.

It’s the classic accusation that everyone hears in middle school that a girl who is into sports or plays sports is “butch.” However, it’s important to remember that no matter what context stereotypes like this one are found, a person’s interests in no way reflects their sexuality.  Unwarranted stereotypes like these should not be made based on such little information. If you’re going to make assumptions about something as weighty as a person’s sexual identity, at least to the time to learn more about them than just what sport they play.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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