Double Standard on Soccer Field

There are very few things that get me out of my chair and cause me to take notice. Maybe it’s because I have – at last – become cynical as I approach middle age ( I hope ). Maybe it’s because there are very few things that are shocking to the eye anymore.

I did see the injuries that woman from Connecticut suffered when attacked by a chimpanzee. She spoke with Oprah and I could not help but be overwhelmed by the degree to which the animal bludgeoned her. Just as shocking was her reaction which was not emotional or angry, but rather resigned to what had happened and trying to make the best out of a truly horrible situation.

The other video – and the subject of this blog – that grabbed me by the throat was that of New Mexico women’s soccer player Elizabeth Lambert. For those of you who don’t know, or haven’t seen it yet, Lambert unleashed her on-field frustrations on what seemed to be the entire Brigham Young football team. She punched one girl, kicked another girl with the ball smack dab in the face and then yanked one player to the ground using her ponytail.

Oh, by the way, you cannot use your hands in soccer.

I would have written it off as poor sportsmanship and a young woman who needs to lay off the caffeine until I read an article in the New York Times. Somehow, this display of rage became the source of a national debate and conversation about women, violence and sport. Some people are horrified by her actions, others believe she is being singled out and that all athletes “do it”.

Then, there is the third view – and that is the most troubling. The feeling that this should be viewed different because the player involved is a woman. Some on-line gabbers found her actions “sexy”, while others believe it to be – at the least – “unlady-like”.

lambert

Elizabeth Lambert: University of New Mexico Soccer player and called by some the “dirtiest player in women’s soccer”. Should there be a distinction?

Why should the gender of the perpetrator matter? Let’s be honest, part of the sizzle in this story is that all these deeds were done by a woman and that’s something that society just doesn’t expect from females. We see women, for better or worse, as kindler and gentler than their male counterparts. The truth is that women, be it in sport or society, are now equal players on many fronts and will react in a similar manner as their male counterparts if thrown into similar situations.

Gone are the days where women playing professional baseball wore skirts and had to go to “charm” school. They are athletes who work and sweat just as much as men. We have a professional women’s football team in this city and I don’t see them being any less physical because they are women.

Let’s once and for all forget about this story being about a woman behaving badly. In this case, it was an individual going off the deep end. Male or female, she was wrong … and should be punished … just like any athlete who breaks the rules.

Elizabeth Lambert was suspended indefinitely.

 

 

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