I love watching sports. At the beginning of my basketball curiosity days, I would mostly watch guys play. I learned a lot from watching, but sometimes it was an excuse to not actually get in and play. Watching was sometimes paired up with the great frustration of not being brave enough to just go and play with guys, even if I had to deal with no passes, no shots, and faces painted with annoyance. My love for basketball should transcend all gaps, including gender, right?
I learned that many guys had an actual reason behind these actions: they didn’t want to hurt me, in the rough man’s sport. Little did they know that I would probably be doing more of the hurting than them.
However, over time I began to sense a lower vibration coming from playing with guys. There seemed to be a certain code of conduct that I couldn’t get in touch with. After awhile, I realized that them wanting to exclude me in the game wasn’t something personal; they just wanted to play with all guys!
While studying in University, I went away one summer to be a lifeguard at an All-Girls overnight camp: Tapawingo. In the beginning, I was a little sceptical to the “all-girls” concept: wasn’t there something to learn from interactions with both genders? But as the summer past, I began to understand how healthy it was for young girls to have exclusive girl time. For three months, I was in charge of the 12-15 year old cabin and as the weeks went by, I noticed how the girls slowly loosened up. The all girl environment meant they didn’t have to impress anyone but themselves and they felt free to just be. After that summer, I recognized how I felt that my female spirit was stronger, more balanced perhaps.
Now, whenever I play with guys on the court, I remind myself that for some of them this might be their first encounter with women and sports at the same time (not including cheerleaders). I try to be patient and just let the sound of my shot slinking through the hoop net be proof that they should get over the gender issue quick before I win.
At the same time, I’m learning to respect the need for both genders to have solitary time. Maybe I could learn something from putting a bit more effort to get to know my female teammates and connect with my own sex.