One of the biggest sport stories over the summer was the emergence of a 13 year-old girl from Philadelphia, Mo’ne Davis, who not only became the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series, but absolutely dominated boys her age while on the mound. While reading up on her I couldn’t help but think of our discussion of Throwing Like a Girl? and the discrimination and lack of opportunities women face when it comes to sports and sexism.
What Mo’ne did for girls of her age, younger, and even older is a step in the right direction. A great discussion for the impact that Mo’ne had on the sports world is provided in this discussion of her story on ESPN.
In the discussion of Throwing Like a Girl? we talked about the institutional barriers to participation which Women face. Part of this is the assumption that women are inferior, or cannot keep up with men when it comes to athletics. What Mo’ne did was to shatter this generalization by not only keeping up with the boys, but dominating them. She will be able to serve as an inspiration and an example for girls not only her age and younger, but for really all of society as a model of progress when it comes to equality.
Mo’ne may be a very modern example of a women breaking institutional barriers in the realm of sports, but there is no shortage of this in the past. One of the most famous examples of this is from a tennis match in 1973 called the “Battle of the Sexes” which pitted Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs. In a match where King was thought to have had no chance beat Riggs just based on the mere fact that she was a woman, she came out on the winning side with a match score of 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.
This was one of the earlier examples of women participating in men’s sports and not only keeping up to par with them, but beating them. She shocked what many considered back then a culture very much defined by the typical institutional barriers when it came to women. Not only in sports, but in society in general with the belief that they were physically and mentally weaker than men, and that trying to compete and keep up with them was just impossible.
In conclusion, these two stories of women achieving success in the sports world when facing the opposite gender, are great examples of how women can break the institutional barriers, which society places upon them when it comes to sports. These two women can serve as an example and inspiration for not only other women, but for society as a whole with it being a step in the right direction for the breaking down of these barriers.