By Chloé Margulis
“Run Forrest, run!” a boy yelled at me through the fence. I ignored him, and the three boys huffing for air behind me. I was going to win—not because I had a head start, but because I was faster than the boys. But before I reached the finish line, someone tripped me, and I fell in the street. The boys continued running, squealing like three little
pigs, and yelled, “We won! Did you see that girl fall?” They left me in the park, with a bleeding nose and sprained wrist; they didn’t like me because I ran fast.
Since 2004, I was embarrassed to engage in public sports, for fear of being bullied. It wasn’t until I came to LIU when I said, “What the heck, I’m going to run for a collegiate team.” I am grateful that Post opened several doors for me in the world of sports, and made me feel comfortable again with my athletic abilities.
There was a time when mentioning women playing sports would muster a rumble of laughter among men. In the 1900 Paris Olympic Games, 22 of the 997 athletes were women in petticoats, competing in “feminine sports” (golf, croquet, and equestrian). By 1928, women competed in Olympic track and field. However, media reports exaggerated fatigued female athletes after the 800m race, leading to policies prohibiting women from running more than 200m distances, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation report “Women in the Olympic and Paralympic Games” on April 11, 2013. This was rescinded in 1960.
Since 1960, women have become more involved in sports. In 1975, there were minimal opportunities, and almost no media coverage for women in collegiate sports. By 2014, over 200,000 women competed in the NCAA, accounting for 40% of all participants, according to an NCAA article on participation rates published in November 2014. Increased involvement is in part due to successful female athletes, who become role models for youth because of their athletic skill and tenacity to overcome adversity.
Olympic volleyball player Flo Hyman advocated for greater equality for women in sports, testifying on Capitol Hill to strengthen Title IX in 1985. She said girls aspiring to be athletes should “have the courage and sensitivity to follow your hidden dreams, and stand tall against the odds that are bound to fall in your path.” Hyman died during a volleyball match at 31, due to a heart condition called Marfan syndrome, according to Jerry Crowe’s LA Times article “U.S. Olympic Volleyball Star Dies in Match,” on January 25, 1986.
Mia Hamm, one of the most renowned female soccer players, held similar beliefs. At 15, Hamm was the youngest woman to be accepted to the US National Soccer team. She led the team to victory in the World Cup and Olympics. Because Hamm became such a sensation, media coverage of women’s soccer drastically increased.
When the US soccer team won the 1999 World Cup, Hamm said, “It was one of the proudest moments for all of us, just in terms of where the sport has come, and not just our sport, but women’s sports.” Not only did she make women’s soccer popular, she also inspired young girls to try their hand in the game. Hamm noted, “I am happy that young girls have a lot more choices and opportunities these days,” according to a CNN article, “Soccer Star Raises Goals in Women’s Sports,” published in 2001.
At LIU, there are 13 women sports teams and only 9 men’s teams. LIU’s women’s basketball head coach Deirdre Moore is in her seventh season here, and is one of two coaches in Post women’s basketball history to surpass the 100-win total for her career. Moore grew up playing sports, whether it was little league baseball, high school volleyball, softball, or even as a collegiate basketball player at LIU Post from 1992 to 1996. “By the time I played sports, there were plenty of opportunities to grow,” she said. Moore was given the opportunity to compete in a different sport every season, as well as attend basketball camp, which was paid in full by her basketball coach.
LIU Post ensures equal opportunities for both male and female athletes to succeed. “We have an athletic department backing us, giving us all the resources we need to succeed,” Moore said,
Sophomore Public Relations major, and field hockey player Lauren Adamusik agreed. “I feel like all the athletes here are so close and fair with everything. I don’t think being a female athlete at LIU has any disadvantages,” she said.
Furthermore, the NCAA audits Post every year. Last year, an extensive review of our facilities was done for Title IX. As a result, an additional locker room was built so female volleyball and basketball teams would not have to share the same one —the men’s volleyball and basketball teams already had separate locker rooms.
“Coach Collins does a great job making sure all teams are given the same opportunities and resources,” Adamusik said about the equal access to athletic trainers and facilities at LIU. The athletic department ensures that there is the closest percentage of participating male athletes to female athletes. For example, the football team has approximately 100 players. To compensate, Post created more women’s teams, now expanded to 13, versus the nine male teams.
So if we don’t have sports inequities, what’s the problem? “Typically, women’s sports don’t get as good of a turnout at games as men’s sports,” Adamusik said. Moore agreed, noting that fans tend to support male teams over many female teams. In basketball, fans come for the second half of the female games, but stay for the entire male game. Adamusik suggested we promote female games more for equal turnout.
In general, educational institutions have to make the playing field equal. As Moore said, “Institution’s athletic departments have to be mindful that both programs have very similar needs. Having good communication is key, and that is something LIU Post definitely has.”
In the early 1900’s, few women participated in sports. As the years progressed, female athletes took an affirmative stance on the playing field, and their involvement became ubiquitous. As Czechoslovakian tennis player Martina Navratilova said, “Whoever said ‘It’s not whether you win or lose that counts,’ probably lost.” Women have won in terms of equity in sports, and now we see the proof in the success of female athletes in every division, all around.