Girls & Baseball

Baseball season is almost here. For those of you who don’t know my DH personally, he’s a big baseball nut. Lives for it. Loves it. Loves to play it and watch it and coach it. He coached HS ball for years, and since our kids are now playing, has switched to coaching them.

Our oldest is a girl. And little league in our town is a big deal. There’s a whole “political” side to the league – who knows who, who’s friends with who, who’s parents are related to so-and-so. We tend to stay out of the politics and focus on the sport. DH has been coaching our daughter from the time she started out in T-ball. However, because it’s so “serious” here, they separate girls from boys right off the bat. Even in T-ball, there are no co-ed teams.

I’ve left the baseball decisions up to DH because he’s the expert. When the daughter was little, he decided to put her on a boys team. First of all, the ball was smaller, and her hands were tiny. And second of all, our daughter is a tomboy. All of her friends – then and now – are boys, and she wanted to play with her friends. When she started out, there were several girls playing in the boys’ league at her level. This year, she’s the only one.

We have always left the choice up to her. Play baseball or play softball. We don’t care. She’s chosen baseball year after year. Why? I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s because that’s where her friends are. Of the few girls she hangs out with at school, NONE play softball. Ability-wise she’s playing at the same level as the boys. She’s as tall, as strong and plays just as well. If we thought she could get hurt playing with the boys, we wouldn’t let her play.

Why do I bring all this up? Simple. Over and over from parents this year I’m hearing, “Why isn’t she playing softball? What do you have against softball? She should be playing softball instead of baseball.” So much so that I’m really getting tired of hearing it. People assume that because my DH has always been so involved in baseball that we’re forcing her to play baseball instead of softball, which totally isn’t the case. But what surprises me most is these comments are coming from women. Women, who are basically implying that my daughter can’t play on a boys’ team and shouldn’t be playing with the boys. That it’s wrong. I can’t begin to tell you how much that upsets me. I have always told my daughter she can do and be whatever she wants. And the choice is always hers. When my mother was young and going to college, she said there were basically three choices for women back then – be a teacher, a nurse or a secretary. She chose to be a teacher, and still is. Today, that’s not the case, and as we’ve watched women break the glass-ceiling, it still amazes me that in this day and age, there are people – including women – that are stereotyping us because of our gender.

I write strong, independent, tough heroines. The kind of women I admire and aspire to be myself. The kind of women I want my daughter to be. What am I telling her if that’s the kind of woman I am, the kind I write, yet I force her to play a sport she doesn’t want to play simply because she’s a girl? At some point, I’m sure she will play softball, and if and when she makes that choice, I will be there on the bench, watching every game and rooting for her the same as I have on every other team she’s been a part of. I just hate the fact that at the age of 8, she’s already having to deal with prejudice simply because she’s a girl.