Stronger Voices: Women In Sports Matter

This is part one of a three-part series that tackles women’s issues in 21st century America.

Women play many roles. We’ve come a long way since the days of solely functioning as a wife, mother and caretaker. Today, women are wives, mothers, caretakers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, even frontrunners for the presidency. We have stronger voices. We are co-leaders in our dual-parent homes and fully functional leaders in our single-parent homes.

Even through we no longer need titles such as “Mrs.” to establish our identity, or we no longer have to downplay our intelligence to gain attention or extol our male counterpart’s ego, on daily basis, we still have to fight for equality.

I recently attended the annual, summer Adidas Summer Championship AAU games in Vegas. Each year, thousands of young basketball players attend and compete with some of the best basketball plays in the country.

It is truly a testosterone-filled event. Look from any angle and you will get a mixture of young men who come to play before some of the country’s top scouts and college coaches, celebrity flare from NBA players who attend and coach their own AAU teams, and ESPN cameras capturing all the grit for television.

But with all that, there was one more ingredient added: a loud mouth, misogynistic coach and father who is living out his dreams through his kids, who set women back by about 35 years with his antiquated ideals.

LaVar Ball.

Ball is the coach of the Big Baller Brand AAU team and a bully. During the games in Vegas, Ball received a technical foul by referees for his lack of sportsmanship and rude behavior when he became irate, issuing ultimatums that he would take his team and leave, mid-game, unless a female referee was removed.

Wait for it…she was removed.

What upset me about her removal was the poor excuse for a valid reason why. Although Adidas organizers reported that bad history between the referee and Ball was the deciding factor for her removal, that fact is questionable since Ball called her names, questioned her skills, athleticism, ability and intentions on the court, openly expressed disdain at the fact that she is a woman and accused her of having a personal agenda.

This is the 21st century. Behavior such as Ball’s not only taints the integrity of the sport, it should not be condoned in sports or any other arena—athletic or professional—for any reason. It is disturbing that women still have to work harder and longer to receive equal pay and respect when we have already proven so much.

Gaining our rights as women is not about given us opportunities, but changing the mindset of those in positions to bring about change so that we can create our own opportunities without having to be demoralized in the process.

Women, everywhere, I challenge you to break a glass ceiling, create your own wealth, build your own businesses solely on the strength of your expertise and the women who paved the way before you. And for women who are doing it or already have, pay it forward and share with us your challenges and strategies in the comment section below.