Stepping Up to the Plate

Navy blue pinstripes. The crowd goes wild as the baseball soars into the stands. Homerun! Everyone cheers and as the homerun slugger rounds the bases, you notice a ponytail swinging to and fro. When the runner reaches home, you suddenly realize something. The person who hit the winning homerun is a woman! I believe that it is time for women to step up to the plate and start playing in the MLB (Major League Baseball league) because some women are as talented athletes as men, it is unfair that women’s sports aren’t taken as seriously as men’s sports and professional female softball players get paid significantly less than professional male baseball players. The MLB is the professional baseball league in the USA and consists only of men players. I think it is time for women to break this gender barrier.

Some female athletes are as talented as male athletes. No law states that females cannot play in the MLB, yet the MLB has only male members. I do not think this is right. Shouldn’t success in sports be based on skill, not gender? Why, therefore, is there still sex discrimination in professional baseball? Baseball currently is a male dominated sport but it shouldn’t stay that way. Justine Siegal made history in February 2011 by being the first woman to pitch in the MLB spring training. She broke a major barrier and I think many women baseball players should follow her lead and advance even further. I bet you’ve heard this claim a lot: “Boys are better than girls at sports.” I sure have. But this is not necessarily true! Many women have played sports with men and were just as good! Hannah McNuity played in the Vermont boys’ basketball high school playoffs as a starting guard. Vermont has had girls play on their hockey and football teams. Rachel Hale was the first girl to win the state wrestling title. Marti Sementelli was recognized as being one of the best female pitchers in the world. She pitched a high school boys’ baseball game, and her team won. Eri Yoshida was the first professional female baseball player in Japan. If you still think no girls are as good at playing sports as boys, then I don’t know what else can prove it.

Another reason why women should start playing in the MLB is because female sports aren’t taken as seriously as men’s sports. Have you ever watched the Super Bowl or World Series? Probably. Have you watched the Championship Series for softball or the women’s football championships? Probably not. Have you ever read the NY Times and seen a women’s sport team on the front page? Probably not. Everyone boasts about the Yankees and the Mets, not the NY Adventurers (the New York softball team.) At Rutgers University, it only costs $4 to see the women’s soccer team as opposed to $7 to see the men’s team. Women’s sports on television get a much lower viewership than men’s. More men’s sports are broadcast on television than women’s. In June 2010, it was reported that men’s sports received 96.3% of the airtime and women received 1.6% of the airtime on broadcast networks (2.1% for neutral topics.) ESPN only covered women’s sports for 1.4% of their airtime. 100% of ESPN’s Sport Center’s leading stories were about men’s sports. Even when women’s sports were ignored in season, men’s out of season sports were still being discussed. Overall, women’s sports just aren’t taken as seriously as men’s.

Thirdly, professional female athletes get paid significantly less than professional men athletes. Imagine that a time warp was invented and you could go back to kindergarten. You would probably think the richest people were sports players. At least I thought so. This is definitely true for men professional players but not for women players. On average, professional men baseball players in the MLB make $3,340,133 per season. In the NPF (all women professional softball league) the average salary of a softball player is $5,000 per season. Baseball players on average make $3,335,000 more than softball players. In the NBA (National Basketball Association) the average salary is $4,900,000 and the WNBA’s (Women’s National Basketball Association) average salary is $55,000. Male basketball players made on average $4,845,000 more than female basketball players. Women athletes are clearly paid significantly less than men athletes.

You may argue that girls’ sports aren’t taken as seriously for a reason. You may claim that this is the case because female athletes aren’t as interesting to watch, aren’t as talented, or they aren’t as competitive. You may not want to watch a girls’ softball game because it isn’t as exciting. However, I believe that if girls played in the MLB and steps were taken to publicize women athletes, the public would be exposed to talented women athletes and respect for women’s sports would increase over time. This would lead to greater popularity and translate into higher salaries for women athletes. Talented women athletes should be paid much more than they are getting.

Talent rather than gender should determine the success of professional athletes. I think women should play in the MLB because some women are as talented athletes as men, women’s sports aren’t taken as seriously as men’s sports and women athletes get paid significantly less than men athletes. Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier. Joe Quinn broke the nationality barrier. Now it is time for the gender barrier to be overcome.

Micaela Raviv
Age 13, Grade 8
NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies
Gold Key

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