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“Can You Name 6 Players And Their Positions?”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVA chapter.

I can’t tell you who won the 1988 Super Bowl without consulting Google. Perhaps you can, and if so, more power to you. But should my inability to spit out random facts have any bearing on whether I’m permitted to enjoy sports? I am fully confident that most women who have ever claimed to like a sports team have been asked something like the following question by their male peer: “Well, can you name 6 players and their positions?” My answer to that dreaded question has evolved a ton since it was first posed to me.

Growing up, I was insanely into the NBA. I memorized players’ names, watched every game I could, and studied hard for the inevitable quizzes from the boys in my class. When I answered their questions right, I felt affirmed, like the only way to prove to myself I was really into the sports was by getting their validation.

But I started to realize that I didn’t care who played small forward, or who made what shot, or what the implications of X team’s trade for Y player happened to be. It wasn’t those details that drew me into the game in the first place—I was attracted to the competition; the unique rules and the way different teams and individuals could bend them to their strengths. I had fallen into the trap of feeling the need to prove myself to boys, and, in the process, had forgotten what brought me joy in the first place.

If I couldn’t keep up with knowing the ins and outs of basketball, or any sport for that matter, then I certainly wasn’t allowed to watch it. My answer to that dreaded question changed from “Yes!” to “No, I don’t watch sports.” There was no happy medium.

Women—like anyone else—should be allowed to casually watch sports. Not every interest needs to constitute a personality trait. I truthfully don’t care enough about sports to know every minute detail or for it to be all I talk about, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get anything out of putting on a game. It’s hard not to internalize that all-or-nothing mentality when it’s been pressed on women from such a young age, but it’s important that we understand there is no criterion for watching sports. I am as entitled to ESPN as the next guy, even if I use my subscription less.

My answer to that dreaded question has changed to a non-answer: I no longer feel the need to entertain men who refuse to acknowledge that women can have the same interests as them. It is not my responsibility to justify the things I like and dislike. Now I know that I can simply turn on a game, and not feel guilty for turning it off.

Sophie is a second year from Chevy Chase, MD. She is a double major in Philosophy and Cognitive Science at UVA. She loves reading and writing, reality TV (especially Love Island UK), Waffle House, and listening to all different kinds of music… typically while singing along very poorly :)