As a girl who has never been a big sports fan, I surprisingly get questioned quite a lot about the sports realm — from men that is. “You don’t know this team? How do you not know this basketball player? Do you even know what a touchdown is?” I’m sure many women can share this experience.
Why is it that men frame sports in such a condescending tone when talking to women? Men claim ownership and superiority when it comes to talking about sports. When a woman does not know something about sports, she is ridiculed. She gets the reactions of patronizing amazement for not knowing enough about sports. When she does know something about sports and identifies as a sports fan, men interrogate her and endlessly question her to see if she actually knows a field dominated by men. And all women, sports fans or not, are victims of mansplaining. Women are challenged to constantly prove themselves, even in matters that are irrelevant to them. It does not matter if you do not care about sports or if you are passionate about them- either way, women face condescending comments due to a male superiority complex over the subject.
What leaves me in disbelief is that every time a man portrays himself to know all there is to know about sports, he really, REALLY does not. They may watch Friday night football and have played soccer for nine years, but when it comes down to it, most men only know men’s sports, not women’s. You rarely see men getting hyped up for March Madness because of the WNBA’s tournaments. It’s unlikely that you have come across a man who has told you that their favorite athlete is Serena Williams. Women’s sports are intertwined with countless struggles in which they deal with extreme misogyny and gender inequalities. Being a female athlete is hard enough in a world where your talents are not recognized nearly as much as your male counterparts. To have people claim to know so much about sports without even going out of their way to give women’s sports any attention at all shows how male sports fans continue to feed into the gender barriers in the sports field. They allow gendered stereotypes to continue to devalue female athletes who put in just as much hard work, and they cause the field to remain male-dominated.
The dominance many men have over the sports realm leaves all women at a loss. Women who do not care for sports are challenged, female sports fans are challenged, and female athletes are challenged. Women should not have to deal with judgment simply for having other priorities in their life, nor should they have to prove themselves worthy of being included in the sports realm. Women need not waste their time learning trivial sports knowledge for the sake of the patriarchy.