This past summer was a trending summer for sports, from upcoming trades for football and basketball season, to current events such as the departure of Derek Jeter and the appearance of Lou Gehrig’s disease due to the viral hit of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
However, a news clip that appeared on the screens of baseball fans, both major and little league, was that of pitcher 13 year-old Mo’ne Davis and her achievements by becoming the first girl to pitch a shutout game in the Little League World Series.
Overnight she became an icon and a household name, capturing the attention of spectators and fans on the covers of newspaper and even on Sport’s Illustrated.
But for Davis’s accomplishments, as amazing as they are for anyone under the age of 18 and with only so much time playing a sport, she was recognized as amazing because of her gender and how she compared to the boys and men in her sport.
This leads some to question, what is the role of women in the future of professional sports?
Women have been making their mark in the world of sports on, off and beside the court throughout the 20th and 21rst century, much like women in other fields.
Women played baseball in the 1940s and 1950s while men went to war, progressed through the ups and downs of the Olympics and making their stand in college sports.
In 1950, Kathryn Johnson paved the way for Davis by becoming the first girl to play in Little League Baseball, which wasn’t official for other girls until 1974.
During 1971, women were given the nod to play five on five full-court basketball and let’s not forget the battle of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973 on the tennis court.
In 1992 Manon Rheaume became the only woman to start in a National Hockey League game in an exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the WNBA began five years later in 1997, a league that Davis wants to join someday.
On our very own campus, Taylor Savarino practices and has played in games with the men’s soccer team.
“I started to practice with them and I loved it and I loved challenging myself,” Savarino said, who practiced with the men’s team when the women’s team hadn’t announced a coach yet.
“They all welcomed me with open arms, made me feel comfortable and made me feel like one of them. Since the first practice I knew I belonged and thought to myself why not just play for both teams. I’m very grateful that Coach Marcus and Coach Ross accepted me onto the team.” Savarino added, who plans on majoring in sports management.
Savarino also shared her view on the growth of women in professional sports.
“I am a strong believer that men and women should be treated the same. It makes you better as a player mentally and physically,” which was apparent in when the men’s team played OSU Mansfield and won on September 4, 2014, which Savarino played in and contributed strongly to.
It is a matter of opinion in the end where someone can stand on the growing spotlight of women joining in on professional sports, and there is a long future ahead for those like Davis and Savarino who enjoy them, despite whoever you are.