Boys vs. Girls Sports and the Trap of Sports Metaphors

Verizon’s sponsoring a “Play Like a Girl” competition, promoting its FIOS Internet package, and invited me to participate. So I am. This is a sponsored post and the main theme is supposed to be about how girls are just as competitive and play just as aggressively as boys do when it comes to sports. You know, so “play like a girl” is a compliment. 🙂

Except while I think the FIOS package – TV, Internet and phone over high speed fiber optics – is really cool, I’m also at a bit of a loss over why they’d use this particular spin on the campaign. I’ll share a picture of one of my girls engaged in a sport, though it’s my son who enjoys competitive sports so my little one leaping into the pool is the best I can do for now.

But here’s the thing: boys and girls do play differently. And I don’t see why that’s a problem.

The Leap Before The Splash!
The Leap Before The Splash!

Consider lacrosse. Before my 13yo son G- got hooked on the sport, I had very little clue about it, but I’ve now been to dozens of matches, pro and youth, and it’s an aggressive game, so much so that it’s common for someone to end up on the ground dazed or injured and the sport includes a “waiting for the injured player to get up or off the field” pose the players quickly learn – down on one knee, stick straight up – as part of adopting the game as their own. With full padding, checking, whacking each other with sticks, and taking tumbles is just part of what makes it fun for boys.

The girls version of lacrosse, college, professional and youth, has almost zero physical contact and they wear very different gear, far less protective because, well, they play like girls. Some of them might well want to play full padding, full aggression, but that’s boy’s lacrosse, not girl’s lacrosse.

Am I a supporter of equality, Title IX, etc? Absolutely. But do I think that boys and girls should play the same sports in the same manner? Definitely not. We just move differently, think differently, and are designed to be able to handle a different level of physicality in a game. So it’s not “separate but equal” or “equal”, it’s “separate and appropriate”.

And that’s where the Verizon FIOS package makes sense to me. If you are already paying for all three services, TV, Internet and phone, why wouldn’t you want to check out their offering to see if it’ll save you money? I did the same with my carrier and doubled my Internet speed while lowering my overall combined bill for the three services. Gotta like that!

Verizon isn’t giving away lacrosse gear (because that’d be just weird) but they do have a really sweet prize package worth over $5000 for one lucky winner who shares a photo of their daughter playing and enjoying a sport, either as part of a team or an individual event, and I encourage you to enter. Go to Verizon.com/playlikeagirl to get the details.

As for the “play like a girl” portion? You tell me, dear reader. What’s your take? Equal, Separate but Equal, or Separate and Appropriate?