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A letter to the guys I play rec ball with

An open letter from the girl you wouldn’t give a fighting chance on the court.

Leslie Gonzales | Daily 49er

Leslie Gonzales | Daily 49er

Leah Khoury, Contributing Writer

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As if walking into the gym and seeing no girls playing on the courts wasn’t disheartening enough, the disdain in your eyes that screams “I hope she doesn’t ask to play” almost stops me in my tracks.

Asking a group of random college guys to play basketball with me (as a 5-foot tall, slightly awkward girl) is an already daunting task, and even more so without receiving a welcoming attitude.

I ask anyway. And why shouldn’t I? I deserve to play just as much the rest of you.

Now, I don’t plan on penning my version of “Dear Basketball…” anytime soon, but here’s the thing: I’m a pretty decent basketball player.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that because after you reluctantly let me on your team, chances are I won’t get passed the ball. I mean, I love cardio as much as the next college girl trying to slim down before spring break, but if I wanted to run without a ball in my hand I would have chosen the treadmill, not the courts.

I digress.

I’m all for team camaraderie and support, and on the off chance I do get my hands on the ball and score, a quick ”great shot!” would suffice. Hearing your outlandish and over exaggerated cheers doesn’t particularly boost my morale. What you don’t realize is that your “support” feels patronizing, because I know it’s coming from a place of surprise — you didn’t actually expect me to score. If any of my male counterparts had made that same shot, there would be no celebration, grand parade or popping of champagne.

To make things more uncomfortable for me, some of you try to pull the “I wasn’t guarding her because she’s a girl” card after your teammates reprimand you for letting me score, as if I’m not even worthy of your effort or my gender somehow affects your ability to actually play basketball. Does having a little estrogen on the court really affect you so much that you have to find a way to diminish my accomplishments?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I would love it if you blocked my shots, and stole the ball and broke my ankles (figuratively, of course). At least I would feel like an equal and not some charity case you let play ball with the boys. Whether you guard me or not, a basket is a basket in the eyes of the scoreboard, and that’s something you can’t diminish.

I mean, how am I expected to get better if I’m playing against myself?

Now I’m not saying all the guys at the Rec are like this, nor do I think you are bad people. I know you probably don’t think twice about any of this — you’re just trying to have fun and play basketball.

But while you’re shooting airballs  and laughing with your friends at the dumb mistakes they make, I’m terrified of making a bad shot for fear of eye rolls and the “I knew we shouldn’t have let her play” side-eyes.

I’m trying to have fun too; it’s just hard when I feel like the whole future of feminism is riding on my performance.

All I want is for you to put yourselves in my shoes (not literally because I’m a size 6 and most women can’t even put themselves in my shoes).

Imagine what it’s like having someone tell you they have a full team and then watching them pick up another guy.

Imagine what it feels like when no one passes you the ball. Imagine what it’s like when someone tells you to your face how much they don’t like playing with girls (or in your case: boys).

Just imagine.

Next time a girl wants to play Rec ball with you, there’s no need to go above and beyond to make her feel welcome. That would be the opposite of whole the equality message I’m trying to convey. Just treat her how you would any other player.

Be nice. Be respectful. Be inclusive.

Sincerely,

A girl who’s just trying to ball out

Leah Khoury

Senior accounting major

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