A deep breath, a quiet “Oh, my,” as I read the morning’s newspaper. Then my day quickly marches before me in the form of Post-its and daily reminders.
But, I pause, and return to the quiet passion beneath my, “Oh, my,” and, suddenly, this 83-year-old ex-jock realizes she really wants to yell, stamp her feet, lose her composure as she reads the day’s sports section and watches the Tokyo Olympics.
First, I want to say to anyone in today’s world of women’s sports, and to anyone whose shoulders you are standing upon, I salute you.
Growing up female in the 1940s and ’50s, was for me, then, about chores — like dishes and dusting, plus being a good student, learning the roles of “being seen and not heard” and practicing “attractive.”
I complied as best I could but coveted more my time outside. In my grade-school years, that meant playing tag, hide-and-seek, racing my Shooting Star scooter, then red Schwinn bicycle. I was also often the only girl playing neighborhood baseball, and boys would wait for me in our kitchen to finish the dishes so I could join them. Pitching was my forte.
In grades 7 through 12, I graduated into tennis and skiing and competed on teams in both. I was fortunate enough to remain active into my 50s, but because of various injuries, I needed to slow down. I then became a “walker” who is currently awaiting her first knee replacement — two months away.
Sports have been my venue, occasionally at some expense, as in injuries and the time a classmate told me he would ask me out — but I skied too much.
And of course, there were benefits. I was very shy growing up, so my activities substituted for conversations. I hold fondly to a time in high school when another skier and I presented our reasons at a student council meeting for why our teams, like the others, should be awarded sports letters. We eventually were, but one question was thrown at me during the meeting: “Why do girls need letters?”
I had no answer. No response.
But I do now.
So, women athletes, my kudos to you all. I want you to know how proud I am of you, your skill, perseverance, strength, your increasingly loud chorus saying, “Look at us. We deserve equal coverage, time, pay, recognition. We will choose our own team uniforms.” And, yes, I aggressively join in: “We want, deserve, demand our own team letters.
“Move over. We’re not going away.”