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A call for a sporting Women's Day

Wikipedia describes Women’s Day thus:

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

Now a few things strike me as most interesting in that description.

One, the celebration talks of women’s economic, political and social achievements. Does sport figure in any one of these? Economic? As a by-product, perhaps. Political? Unlikely. Social? Far-fetched.

Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom - the pride of a nation.

Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom – the pride of a nation.

Two, the occasion simply became a day for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Mother’s day: when one is thankful to one’s mother for not just bearing one but also raising one. Valentine’s Day: when one is thankful to the fairer sex for putting up with one and indeed cherishing one. A combination of these two is merely a celebration of thankfulness. Might as well name it thanksgiving then, what?

It is time to do something more, is it not? I mean, thanking is one thing; after all, it is for something that has been done in the past. However, isn’t it time for an eye for an eye? Mahatma Gandhi might call it the force that blinds the world but, done wisely, it could be the one that opens eyes.

So what can we do then? For starters, let’s see some women on Women’s Day. I just checked the TV guide and it reads thus:

Star Cricket HD: 4 hours of Women’s World Cup H/L

ESPN HD: 1 hour of Women’s World Cup H/L

Star Sports: N/A

ESPN: N/A

Every other sports channel: Almost N/A (Sprinkle in a few WTA programs)

You see my point?

Let someone who has the power to do something about it actually do something about it. Let the broadcasters broadcast more women’s sport. Of course, it can be argued that there is simply far too many men’s sporting events as compared to women’s sporting events and hence, it is but logical to put in more programming. Fair enough. However, for one day a year, can women not be the focus of attention? Food for thought.

That, however, is not in your control. What is well within your control is something more fundamental, and, in my opinion, more pivotal to women’s sport – the grassroots. ESPN or Star may not really show a whole lot of women’s sport on Women’s Day but why does that mean that you cannot ensure that people do not watch more of women’s sport? I mean, instead of playing cricket in the gullies with the 1G and 2Gs and the ‘once outs’ and ‘twice outs’, can’t girls be included in play?

Play cricket. No one can tell you not to. However, be inclusive. Let’s face it. Gully cricket games are intensive but they are not that intensive that they cannot have elements of fun in them. Let there be a mandate of at least 2 girls a team. Let them bowl/ throw from three fourths of the pitch. Let the boys bat one handed when they bowl. Let there be a minus five when a girl gets a wicket. Let her catch it on the bounce. Let her play, for God’s sake! Just be inclusive. You won’t lose anything. In fact, you will only find that you enjoy it a whole lot more.

Play football. Yes, I know your next thought in thwarting my line of thought: but it’s too damn rough for a girl! Fair enough. However, is refereeing still too damn rough for a girl? I think not. Include her. Let her understand what offside is. Let her officiate. That way, at least there will be fewer profanities on the pitch. Or so one expects; hopes, at least. Let her run the lines. Let her call fouls. Let her even play if she wants to. Just try it.

Play volleyball. Now, this is one place where girls do play at quite a good standard, taking the average standards of high school and college volleyball into account. You know my tirade. Be inclusive, man! Just try it.

I could go on and on but then again, I think the point has been made.

For parents, I understand the social anxieties that come with letting a girl loose amongst a crowd of boys. However, if you can find it within yourself to be a little trusting, you will find that the chances of the entire group of boys being ruffians is an exception rather than a rule. Let your daughters play. They will enjoy it and dare I say, you will too.

I do not know how I wish to conclude this. I do not even know if anything that I actually said made any sense. I do not know if it touched a chord. I do not know if anyone will even act on anything at all. If even one person does, it will be worth it. If no one does, well, we can always go back to saying ‘Happy Women’s Day’ and carrying on with our lives.

I will not say that I have done my part but I can safely say that I have at least tried to do something about it. Here’s wishing all the women in the world a very happy Women’s Day. May the 8th of March, and indeed the 8th of every month, and indeed every day of every month be a most sporty day for Women all over the world!

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