Sunday, March 8, 2009

I am Woman, I am Baseball Fan, I am Blogger: Hear Me Roar

(Today, 8 March, is International Woman's Day. In honor of that, I offer this post, on my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a blogger.)

Being a blogger has its roots in being a sports fan, so please pardon me the momentary detour through my youth:

I don't know how it started, my interest in sports.

There's really no logical reason for it: neither of my parents were very interested in sports, I was such a bad athlete that I got cut from my middle school basketball team when fifteen tried out for twelve spots, and I can't begin to enumerate the number of times I was picked last for pretty much everything remotely athletic.

Everything from my childhood states this girl should not be a sports fan, and yet, here I am.

By some odd confluence of events and circumstances, I am here now, a blogger, a writer and a die-hard sports fan.

I remember the year it happened. Twelve years old, my math teacher nursed a passion for the Yankees I had never seen anyone have before (his son was taken in the 2008 draft by the Minnesota Twins), and I, ever the teacher's pet, latched on to it. There was nothing quite like the feel of competition, and, unlike the Nets, who never won, and the Devils, to whom I had not yet been acquainted, the Yankees won, and they won a lot.

I remember learning about David Wells' perfect game, about one of Darryl Strawberry's giant home runs (which happened to, as my older brother says, "bounce off my friend's chest"). Of course, in the pre-Stub Hub days, it was possible to get $12 bleacher seats on game night, and such things seemed more possible than they might now.

In 1998, the year of Sosa and McGwire, it was impossible not to fall in love with the Yankees.

We watched Game One of the World Series as a family, and when Tino Martinez came up to bat in the seventh, worked a 3-2 count with two outs, it wasn't hard to figure out what would happen next–these were the Yankees, after all, and the season was 1998.



There was, however, one drawback.

There were few people with whom I could share it.

Most twelve year old girls care about boys and trying to get away with being more grown up than they are. Trust me on this–I was one of them. Most twelve year old girls do not care so much about baseball unless they are on the field, playing the game.

I never really bothered to hide it when I became obsessed, and it was probably a very short track from being obsessed to becoming a blogger, though blogs first had to be invented and my ability to be critical of the team, instead of blindly delusional, had to develop.

Still, develop it did, and now I've been at this small thing for about a year and a half–just over it, actually.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to do this at a time where women baseball bloggers are not an absurdity, even if we still are a little unusual. For instance, in January, when guest bloggers appeared on The Yankees LoHud Blog, I was only one of two women to make an experience. Actually, thinking about it, I can't actually remember if the second woman scheduled to post ever did post...

I have to be honest. The most sexism I've ever seen are comments left by trolls, which obviously don't count, and that is, perhaps, an incredibly encouraging thought.

Granted, a blogger will never experience what a beat writer or broadcaster will, as we don't exactly get press passes here, and thus will likely never be in an all-male locker room. It's no secret that until recently women weren't even allowed in the press box, so you can imagine how much trouble the locker room may have been for the first to integrate it.

Even if we can't stand Suzyn Waldman's nasally voice or Kim Jones's, well, not very questioning questions, you have to remember that as recently as 30 years ago, a time that many of you, dear readers, may remember, the idea of a woman broadcasting or a woman in the locker room would have been preposterous.

Women may still be underrepresented in baseball (though that is changing), but the wonderful thing about blogging is that, at least in the fan community, that ratio is getting narrower.

I am lucky enough to be a part of it now.

It means that in ten or twenty years, as the case may be, I can tell my (future) daughter, that yes, she can be a sportswriter if she so desires, and that her being a sportswriter in itself won't be an objectified spectacle.

My grandmother was born only three years after women in the United States won the right to vote; I have grown up in a world where traditional gender norms have been questioned to a point where we can banter around terms like 'transsexual' and 'transgender' without much thought.

Still, it's hard to be completely satisfied. I have this opportunity, but many do not.

In Iran, for example, women are not even allowed to watch their national football team , never mind being a sportswriter that covers male teams.

Even here in the United States, Title IX legislation was needed to ensure girls of an equal opportunity. While such legislation may no longer be needed as attitudes have shifted, that there is still a debate shows that this is not the same thought everywhere.

I started my blog because one person told me he'd read what I wrote. I don't actually know if he still reads–if you do, ChiDave, more power to you–but, it got me to do something that has utterly changed my life for the better.

I hope there are more women out there, willing to take the opportunity.

Cheers, and since I don't say it nearly often enough, thanks for reading.

5 comments:

  1. Great Post..Thanks for sharing your story.

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  2. Great job. Excellent post. I've got something on the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry coming up on my blog...

    http://berningonsports.blogspot.com/

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  3. Rebecca, thanks for sharing. It is so much more common now for women to talk about and be involved in sports. When I was younger I was always told that only men talk about sports.

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  4. Excellent post!

    I will always applaud Suzyn Waldman, who is probably my contemporary or close to it (I am 51), because she had the courage to pursue something I did not. Like you, I became an avid baseball fan at the age of 11 or 12. I was treated like an alien creature by the boys, who didn't really like it when I tried to inject myself into their baseball conversations. I was lucky enough to find a girlfriend a few years later who shared my passion, though.

    I had wanted to pursue a career in baseball writing or baseball statistics (surprised?), but didn't have the fortitude to pursue what was, back then, a very strange career choice.

    Anyway, congratulations on a very successful, very insightful and extremely well-written blog!

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  5. You're a woman? After all this time I just thought you were an ugly ass looking dude...but if so, shut up and go cook something in the kitchen already.

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