Sexism in sports

The kitchen talk has got to stop

Sydney Byerly, Co-Editor-in-Chief

      On February 24, ESPN posted a photo of University of Oregon women’s basketball player Sabrina Ionescu on their Instagram, to recognize her for being the first Division I player to ever score 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

Miramonte High basketball player Sabrina Ionescu is photographed in the gym at Miramonte High School in Moraga, Calif., on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Ionescu is the East Bay Girls Basketball Player of the Year. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

      Sabrina Ionescu is a 5-foot-11 guard and the front runner for national player of the year as well as the projected no. 1 pick for the WNBA draft in April. She is even nicknamed “triple-double queen”. While you would expect the comments to be congratulations and praises, many sexist remarks were displayed. A majority of over 4,000 comments were to the effect of “who cares?”, “did I ask?”, “why’s her apron look funny?” and “okay but how many sandwiches made?”. 

      It is incredibly disheartening to see comments like this whenever a female in sport does something remarkable, especially being an athlete and coach myself. Something not even male athletes of the same caliber have done. 

Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and Sabrina Iconescu.
Picture from left to right: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and Sabrina Ionescu at a basketball tournament Gianna played in. (Mpasho)

     Something else to add is that Ionescu spoke at the memorial service held for Kobe Byrant, his daughter Gigi and others who died in a helicopter crash on January 26. Out of the comments showing support for Ionescu, many finished with the hashtag #mambamentality to show how Ionescu is helping carry on Bryant’s legacy. In a letter written by Ionescu, she says “He [Kobe] saw the pressure that we were about to face as a privilege. A challenge to overcome. And the fact that it was scary to me at first? He saw that as an opportunity. Harnessing your fear as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself- that’s Mamba Mentality 101. And I took it to heart,” according to The Players Tribune.

     For women to receive the equality they are searching for in the workplace, politics and life, strides need to be taken by sports fans alike. Ionescu says that one of her favorite moments from being a duck isn’t even on the court- it’s when she went to Nike HQ to pitch an idea to create an equal opportunity for boys and girls in youth basketball. Comments that addressed the toxic masculinity of others like “just stop hating and appreciate. She’s the first to do it out of men and women so make all the kitchen jokes you want to make. She’s gonna make more money than most people can imagine in the WNBA” and “could end up being one of the greatest women’s players ever! Would give most of the dudes in the comments buckets” show that not everybody thinks this way. One comment even acknowledged Kobe’s respect and admiration for Ionescu and said “Kobe would be disgusted by y’all in the comments.”

      Sport is sport. It shouldn’t matter who’s wearing that jersey. Sport is intended to be fun and a source of entertainment. Over years in sport women have shown that their ‘place’ doesn’t have to be in the kitchen- it can be on the court.