ERIN DOHERTY, CO-SPORTS EDITOR Move over Nationals, Mo’ne Davis has hit the sports spotlight. The 13-year-old phenom from Philadelphia has made quite a name for herself in the past couple of weeks. Within the last week, Davis has made the cover of Sports Illustrated, been the first girl to pitch a shutout during a Little League World Series game, been offered money for advertisements, and even has a loyal fan club– ranging from other young girls to parents and adults. Everyone has been impressed by her talent.
Unfortunately for Mo’ne and her team the Taney Dragons, their run ended when they were eliminated from the Little League World Series on August 21. Still, Mo’ne’s experience paints a picture of the reality of women’s sports today.
Davis has captured the hearts of thousands across the United States, including in the Wilson High community. Junior Asa Canty comments that, “it was very cool to watch her [Mo’ne Davis], not just how she pitched but also how she seemed so mature handling all the attention being thrown at her.” According to Mark Hyman, an assistant professor of sports management at George Washington University, “She’s [Mo’ne] the most talked-about baseball player on earth right now. More people are talking about her than Derek Jeter.”
But Mo’ne’s time to shine may be brief. Soon, her amazing story will be overshadowed by other professional, college and high school sports – especially football, which is still the dominant sport in the U.S.
Columnist Sally Jenkins wrote in the Washington Post that if Mo’ne had played against girls instead of boys, her story would never have captured national attention. This highlights problems with women’s and girls’ sports at every level. “It’s about them” – meaning men, said tennis legend Billy Jean King. “You’re in a male arena,” she told Jenkins.
Female athletes everywhere, including at Wilson, understand what King is talking about. A handful of women athletes have broken through, such as basketball players Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins, soccer star Abby Wambach, and tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams.
Yet they are the exceptions, not the rule. The vast majority of women who play sports against other women, as Jenkins pointed out, never get noticed. Very few women or girl athletes play against males.
Wilson senior Alexis Coates played baseball with and against boys last season. She was a true trailblazer, but ended up moving to softball.
This is what made Mo’ne’s accomplishments so important and memorable. Perhaps she caused some people to change their perceptions about female athletes. But over the long-term, things will only change when ALL women athletes get their due respect.
Mo’ne Davis’s eventual goal is to play basketball for the University of Connecticut, a perennial powerhouse, and perhaps in the WNBA. It would be great to think that, if she does well, Mo’ne will get as much attention playing basketball against women as she has playing baseball against boys. But don’t count on it.