I love sports. I play, I coach, I watch, I listen, I philosophize, I analogize. When my mom gave up trying to get me to wear dresses when I was in 1st grade, it was because she realized she would never win; reason was not on her side. It’s not that I didn’t like the look of dresses; they were pretty and I could appreciate that. They were just so completely unreasonable, so impractical for the acts of the day. And for me, at 6 years old and even way before that, the acts of the day were always physical. Very physical. The more physical the better. Flipping, running, sliding, leaping, kicking, catching, throwing, diving.
As a woman who has had good success in business, I am as grateful for my grooming as an athlete as I am for anything else. As anyone who has ever worked on one of my teams can attest, there’s a 90% chance I’ll relate a business situation to a sports analogy. It’s unfailingly the best arena of relation around. Competition, talent, attitude, work ethic, strategy, conviction, creativity, execution, discipline, attitude. All of these words are as relevant to a successful business as they are a successful athlete or team of athletes.
And you know this, if you are an athlete. Right?
I’ve written about the importance of getting girls into sports, to learn at a wonderfully fun and elemental level of experience, the worth of these concepts. Add the bonus benefits of the physical aspect of working your body like a machine, feeding it and treating it with utmost respect and honor, and I cannot think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t enthusiastically encourage all children to play more sports.
We’re on a good course with boys. Half of all high school boys compete in sport. But we have to find a way to pick up the numbers for girls, for less than a third of them compete in high school sports.
There are so many areas that we can focus on to make a better impact on girls and sports, but I’d like to address one that has come to mind after this year’s Super Bowl.
First I’ll say that as said-sports fanatic, this year’s big game was insanely incredible for me. Born and raised in Denver, I bleed orange. Having lived my past two decades in Seattle , I am a proud 12th (Wo)Man. The match-up was epic. I couldn’t pick a single team to root for, for there was no way I could wish for one of them to fail. Indeed, the bet I placed in Vegas was on the over (I won, thanks to a prolific all-around Seahawks team where offense, defense and special teams all scored at least one touchdown), not on a straight-up win or lose.
We know the result, and boy was it ugly for the Broncos. And my, my, my, was it monumental for the Seahawks. The former showed up to play great football as they’d done all year. The latter overthought nothing, showing up simply to win. Both teams were incredibly disciplined and focused. One team exploded like green and blue meteors in a NY/NJ night sky. Desire was the delta.
And it wasn’t just the desire of every man on that team and coaching staff. It was the desire of the entire city and surrounding cities of the Great Pacific Northwest that poured rocket fuel on their blow torches. A fuel so dense and powerful that many have tried to break down the chemistry.
The most commonly referenced catalyst I’ve heard of is this city’s dearth of championships in the past decades. Not since 1979, everyone would say, has this city had a team who has won a league championship. Not the Seahawks, not the Mariners, not the Sonics (since their ’79 title, and before they were sold to Oklahoma City), not the Sounders. One commentator even referenced the other city championship in remotely recent range, the 1917 Seattle Metropolitan’s Hockey Club’s Stanley Cup title.
What? Seriously? Come on…
This city has a tremendously talented professional sports team who has brought two titles home to Seattle in the past decade. They’re consistently at the top of the league, the world’s best athletes in the sport live and train and play here with a Space Needle on their jerseys. They shoot, dribble, drive, pass, block better than 99% of the athletes who play the sport, men or women.
It’s the Seattle Storm, sports fans.
Why do their championships not count when we do the math to calculate the “dearth of championships” that have fueled this city’s excitement for our Seahawks Super Bowl win?
Now I understand that the fan-base for the Storm isn’t nearly as big as the other professional teams from our city, and some sports fans (probably of the more casual bent) have no idea the Storm have even won two championships in ’04 and ’10. And to incite the chemical reaction our city is basking in at the moment, you need raw numbers of passionate boosters.
But really, show some respect. At least reference the Storm’s accomplishments if you’re going to reference the championship dearth, come up with a different way to articulate the math, or cite another reason altogether.
If you’re a true athlete, you know the designation is as emotional and mental as it is physical (thank you, Seahawks, for epically proving this one). But you don’t need to be a boy to be an athlete.
If you’re a true athlete, you honor and respect the skill, talent, focus, dedication and hard work it takes to perform at your very best.
And I believe that if you’re a true fan of sport, you should demonstrate the utmost respect for the athlete.
Man, woman, boy or girl. Respect the Athlete to honor SPORT.
With all my heart, I cheer the Seahawks Super Bowl win – Sea-HAWKS!! I root faithfully for the Broncos and cheer on an offseason that will be as hard as any they’ve ever had (hopefully making them stronger than ever before). I root for all the other Seattle professional sports team that train and play so hard in representation of this city. And with special gratitude and big, big props, I toast the other professional team to bring a league championship home to Seattle in this century… GO STORM!
If we cheer on the girl as much as we cheer on the boy, I do believe more of our daughters, nieces, cousins, friends will play. And she will be better for it.
No go play sport. All of you. I cheer you on!