The Ballard Talisman

The importance of sports in the fight for equality

The strength and empowerment that comes with being a female wrestler

From+left+to+right%3A+Sophomore+Elle+Murray%2C+sophomore+Samantha+Swainson%2C+junior+Ana+Marbett+and+junior+Kayla+Rogers.%0A%28Miles+Whitworth%29
From left to right: Sophomore Elle Murray, sophomore Samantha Swainson, junior Ana Marbett and junior Kayla Rogers.
(Miles Whitworth)

From left to right: Sophomore Elle Murray, sophomore Samantha Swainson, junior Ana Marbett and junior Kayla Rogers. (Miles Whitworth)

From left to right: Sophomore Elle Murray, sophomore Samantha Swainson, junior Ana Marbett and junior Kayla Rogers. (Miles Whitworth)

Ana Marbett, News Editor

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Although we live in a democratic, first-world country, the inequalities between men and women are still significant. Between the wage gap and the court system’s inability to bring rapists to justice, women are still feeling the pressures of our country’s patriarchal values.

But we have also come very far.

Women are currently advancing into areas that were previously considered men’s spheres. Some women defy societal norms by excelling in STEM jobs, others are CEOs of companies. I defy them by wrestling.

Sports have always been an essential part of my life. My parents believed in giving me the tools to be independent and strong and sports were one of them.

After soccer, volleyball, basketball, swimming and Crossfit, I am now a wrestler. According to statista.com, the amount of female wrestlers in the United States has increased from 6,000 to over 14,000 in the past eight years, and that number is continuing to increase.

Aside from wrestling, the number of female high school athletes has been increasing dramatically in the last decades. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of female high school athletes has gone from 295,000 to 3.1 million from 1972 to 2011. This number is still very far from the amount of male athletes there are. Plus, the number of opportunities for girls to play sports in high school is still 1.3 million fewer than for boys.
These statistics point to the stratification between men and women that still plagues our country, and more importantly, our schools. As kids, we are at our most impressionable because we are watching and absorbing everything. If there are fewer opportunities for girls to play sports in high school, then how can we expect to empower the next generation of women?

Sports can have a significant impact on girls because they help build assets that translate to every area of life. Athletics not only build physical health, but also build mental and emotional health that are crucial in order to thrive in life. The work ethic and confidence that comes from playing sports is what allows empowered women to construct companies, direct movies and coach soccer teams.

I could not be prouder to have joined the ranks of America’s female wrestlers.

There is something to say about walking into a gym and finding the bleachers packed full with girls who are getting ready to wrestle. I’ve been to countless girls’ soccer tournaments, but none have been as empowering and as impactful as wrestling tournaments have been.

For me, this is because there are already so many girls playing soccer. We broke that barrier long ago. But with wrestling, girls are relatively new to the scene so there is a more profound sense of solidarity, an unspoken understanding of the difficult path being paved.

Conventional gender roles are being shattered at every wrestling practice, every wrestling tournament and on every podium. Even though the community is significantly smaller, it is because we are doing something that no one has ever done before, and that is powerful.

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The importance of sports in the fight for equality