Women’s Basketball and a Unique Double Standard
What’s the difference?
People know me as a pretty easy-going dude. I tend to go with the flow and am about as laid-back a person as you’ll ever meet. I do a lot of volunteering, have been a Big Brother for almost a decade, and have been involved with many non-profit organizations over the years.
But put me on the basketball court and I’m a complete jackass. And that’s putting it mildly.
I’m not kidding. I’d hate to be on the same team as me.
Looking back, I’m amazed that I didn’t get the crap beaten out of me every game. Seriously. I was never a dirty player but I didn’t let anyone get away with anything. I was constantly in people’s faces, got into shoving matches, and have routinely ashamed my friends and family with some of the stuff I’ve said and done on the court.
Painting that picture of myself doesn’t make me happy and I’m still not entirely sure why I turn into Mr. Hyde when I’m balling. It’s not a badge of honor and can actually be quite embarrassing and humbling.
Hey, I’m human.
I’m telling you this to prove a point and start an honest discussion: Why is it accepted that men can show emotion, curse, and be aggressively animated on the hardwood but when women do it, they are labeled as “classless” and “vulgar”?
Not saying that behavior is right or wrong either way, but there is little denying it is more universally accepted for men to do so.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen tempers flare in every WNBA playoff game. Players and coaches voice their concerns, whatever they might be, intensely. They curse. Scream. Yell. Get technical fouls.
Not a big deal, right? That’s what the playoffs are about, no?
Well, based on the venomous comments I’ve seen on Twitter, Facebook, and even in my email box (from fans as well as members of the media, amazingly enough) you’d think these players murdered a litter of innocent baby seals.
Or shot a puppy for sport.
Or said Suri Cruise doesn’t have any fashion sense.
That got me thinking – why is it so easily dismissed when men have strong, passionate reactions but not when women do? In the NBA, we see tempers flare all the time. It’s nothing new to the game and has happened for the last 60+ years.
Putting it another way, why can my aforementioned behavior be brushed off (almost comically) as “men being men” but women’s basketball players are ridiculed and condemned?
This isn’t centered around one particular player. I’ve seen Tweets and received emails from folks accusing players from every playoff team of being dirty and acting like a “thug” (amongst other incredibly inappropriate things). Really, people? For getting upset at a foul call?
If they are thugs then I shutter to think what they’d call me (sleeves of tattoos and shaved head aside).
Human emotions get the best of us sometimes. We’re not perfect. We all get caught up in the moment.
So, knowing this, why should our reactions to the tempers of women’s basketball players be any different? Why, when they have a heated reaction, are people shocked and almost offended? Are we just more conditioned to men getting angry? Are women held to a higher standard? A different standard? Are they not supposed to get mad or frustrated?
I understand playing the “role model” card. Certainly, there are times when the line is crossed. But it bothers me that WNBA players are so quickly judged.
I, for one, love seeing that type of emotion and intensity in women’s sports. It’s real. Raw. Honest. They were upset at a foul call. Or a non-call. Who cares? Move on.
Here’s the thing: Every player does it. Every. Single. One.
Every player has, at some point, been involved in a shoving match or altercation. Yelled at an official. Used some offensive language.
That’s what happens in competitive sports, people. It’s a reality. Men get mad. Women get mad. End of story.
Yet, the reactions to WNBA players showing anger is vastly different than NBA players. Why?
Perhaps it deals with being naive and thinking that the WNBA isn’t physical or worth getting upset about. Quite the opposite; Game 3 between the Storm and Mercury in the Western Conference Semifinals was one of the most physical basketball games I’ve ever seen. Not in a dirty way, but players were simply going all out and not backing down. Anyone put in a situation like that would find it nearly impossible to stay even-keel. Players from both teams lost their temper.
I’m not here to be a moral voice as I certainly don’t have any room to talk. But I do question the motives behind the accusations of some people in regards to stereotypical expectations of women athletes.
Labeling these players (or any other female athlete who shows that type of passionate emotion) as thugs, villains, or vulgar is, quite frankly, hypocritical.