Brain Says Comparing Female Athletes To Men Isn’t Necessary
I have two young daughters at home, and trust me when I say that I want them to have every opportunity to thrive and succeed in this world that any man does. Gender equality is something that I personally don't give much thought to because I honestly view the sexes as equals. Yet, we still live in a world where a woman doesn't make as much as a man for doing the same job. Has there been progress? Sure. But to say we're on equal footing would be a stretch.
The topic has come to light this week due to the comments of John McEnroe. The former tennis star was asked during an interview on NPR about Serena Williams. McEnroe stated that she was the best female tennis player ever. Certainly a compliment in my book. The interviewer then pressed McEnroe why he quantified his statement by calling her the best 'female' tennis player. Why isn't she just the best tennis player? McEnroe then went on to say that Serena would be ranked 700th in the world if she played on the men's tour.
OK, first of all McEnroe put his foot in his mouth by giving Serena a ranking. He would have been much better off by simply stating that she would have trouble consistently beating players on the men's tour. And while I feel almost dirty typing that, it's true. At least in the sport of tennis, the strength and speed of men's players versus female players are on different levels. It's the same in basketball. The best player in the WNBA wouldn't find great success playing against the male players in the NBA. And that's OK.
What's getting lost in this discussion is the fact that by having such a ridiculous argument undermines and devalues every amazing accomplishment that female athletes attain. Serena shouldn't be compared to male tennis players. She should be respected and revered for what she has done in HER sport. It's just as silly as arguing if the best college football team, say Alabama, could beat the worst NFL team, say the Browns. It's laughable! The Browns would destroy the Tide every time!
I want my daughters to be on equal footing to men at all times. They should have the same opportunities for school, sports, and employment as boys do. But there is no need to quantify their achievements by saying, "Yeah, but how would they do versus the boys..." Let them be winners in the own right. They've earned it. So has Serena.