Are boys really better at sports or do we withhold opportunities from girls because we inhale stereotypes and exhale sexism?
“No, she can’t catch the ball, let me have it instead”.
I sat there baffled when I heard two kids of 5 and 7 years of age playing around while I took a break at my workplace.
My colleague got involved and the kids started playing ‘throw and catch” with him. The elder brother, being 7, was pro at it but when it came to his little sister, she was hesitant.
“No, I can’t catch it!”, she threw the ball back at my colleague.
“What else do you play?” I asked her.
“I only play girl games, I don’t play as my brother does. He likes cars and he can play with the ball..but you know..”, she paused for a while and then lifted her brows, trying to make sure I’m understanding her.
“You know those cooking and dressing games? I play those!”
“Wow, that’s nice! Do you want to play with the ball for now?” I asked her.
“I can’t! I’m a girl!”, she began asking me for my phone so she could play games on it.
My colleague looked at me and I knew what it meant. He was as shocked as I. It was surprising to know that kids as young as just 5 and 7 are being fed that they can’t play a certain sport because it is not meant for their gender.
“C’mon! Why can’t you play?” my colleague got her to play and she gradually learnt how to do it. I saw her face beaming with pride as she caught the ball in both her hands, she ran around excitedly and eventually got heed of the game.
My heart swelled with contentment when I witnessed what little it took to change the perception of a little girl and how something this tiny could be an obstacle in her future endeavours but in a matter of minutes, she was on the field playing her heart out.
A little dose of a confidence boost. That’s all it took.
Are boys really better at sports?
Nature or Nurture?
I know there’s nature. Boys and girls are biologically different and they have certain feminine and masculine traits that distinguish them.
I know there’s a choice. Young girls can choose to play dress up games. Young boys can choose to play racing games. But why is that when it is the other way around we lose our minds?
Can young boys not choose to play dress up games? Can young girls not choose to play racing cars?
Are sports and games really gender-specific?
It is not nature. It is not a choice. It is nurtured.
How are we raising our kids today? Are we raising them to live up to made-up societal standards or are we raising them to be who they really want to be?
How many young girls had to let go of their dreams when they were told “You can’t because you are a girl?”
How many young boys had to bury their passion when they were told “You can’t because you are a boy?”
As my colleague caught the ball from the air, he smiled at me and exclaimed “I’m a born athlete!”
It made me really think how young boys and men have the privilege; the privilege to have access to safe public spaces, the privilege to have trainers without the fear of being sexually harassed, the privilege of being born a male and told you can play this sport because you are a boy, the privilege to get the apt guidance and training at such a young age, and If I keep on counting the privileges on my keypad, it would give up.
In my 23 years of life, every time I have told a guy that I am into sports and football is my favourite game, they have proceeded to ask, “okay then what is an offside rule?”
Really? The audacity.
You stop young girls from playing outside, you do not let them pursue their dreams, you do not allow them access to training grounds because after all, sports are not for women, right? You mock them when they come to you for guidance, you pass sexist remarks when they struggle on the field and yet, after enjoying all the privileges, you have the audacity to question their passion for their favourite game?
So, are boys really better at sports or do we withhold opportunities from girls because we inhale stereotypes and exhale sexism?
Get to learn more at https://news.un.org/en/tags/sports-and-gender-equality
Did you know the author @zainab is from Pakistan?
You can learn about gender inequality there from a recent report at https://www.dawn.com/news/1615651