Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sh*t, I Read The Comments: On Sexism in Sports

It's 1:30 in the morning on a Tuesday. And I'm furious.

Twice in the last week Bleacher Report has posted stories of two female coaches breaking through barriers in men's professional sports via Instagram:

1) Becky Hammon coaching the San Antonio Spurs to win the Las Vegas Summer League title; and

2) Jen Welter getting hired as the NFL's first female coach.

Awesome, awesome stuff.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon on the sidelines with
her players. Photo Credit: mysanantonio.com






Dr. Jen Welter, former pro football player for the Texas
Revolution of the Indoor Football League and newly
hired coach/intern for the Arizona Cardinals. Photo
Credit: ftw.usatoday.com








Sexist comments on any social medium are nothing new. Jokes about getting back in the kitchen, making sandwiches, fetching beers for supposedly deserving possessors of penises--I've seen it all. Mostly I just roll my eyes at these and move along.

But there is another, more insidious, more alarming type of comment I'm noticing on these threads, which is where sorry-ass excuses for men are positing that these trailblazers in women's sports either will be or deserve to be sexually assaulted, made into a sex object for the players, or even raped. I give you a sampling of the crap I saw tonight on these Instagram posts:


"Pussy belong on my dick not in sports"

"She gonna get gangbanged in the locker room lolol"

"Bet within a week shes slept with every team member"

Photo Credit: knowyourmeme.com 
There is one important thing to note about these comments: they are not coming from old, crotchety geezers stuck in the past. This filth and vitriol is spewing from the fingertips of young people. Social media-savvy young Americans who unfortunately will grow up to go to college and have jobs. With such attitudes towards women--not just women in sports--, I fear for both their future fellow students of the female persuasion and their eventual co-workers.

Which brings me to articulate the viewpoint I've always had concerning misogynistic BS directed towards female athletes and coaches:

Don't like women's sports?

Don't watch them.

Don't pay them any mind.

SHUT UP ABOUT THEM. 

Photo Credit: properlyridiculous.com
Because you see, dear readers, if this really were just about women in sports for the haters, we wouldn't be reading these comments. We wouldn't hear about how the WNBA is a joke or that women's soccer isn't worth watching. There would be blessed, blessed silence on the topic.

Instead what you have is a clear-cut case of insecurity. For whatever reason, these men's sports fans apparently feel threatened by the presence of female athletes. Why else would they need to so loudly denounce the very existence of sporting activities undertaken by those with two X chromosomes? Why can't they simply carry on getting drunk on the couch while watching every second of the NBA Draft?

Photo Credit: ultimateclassicrock.com
This engulfs my heart in flames even more because just this past Saturday, I played my beloved sport alongside the five of the six other women who represent Oregon teams within the Cascade Hurling League. One of them, whom I am proud to call my teammate, dove in front of the goal to try and stop an utter rocket of a shot. Just laid out completely with no thought of holding back.

These women--my colleagues--my friends--are tough. They are determined. Each has the same competitive blood running through their veins as any male athlete.

They, as well as women at any level of sports, deserve respect.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Love Wins: Thoughts on the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup

Sunday night as I drove home from watching the United States Women's National Soccer Team win the World Cup, my brain whirred furiously as to what to put in this very space. Here's what that neural traffic sounded like:

What's the theme what's the theme what's the theme?!

Patriotism? Well yeah, that's important. I haven't felt this good about being an American in years. But it's beyond the USA, beyond us winning--

Crying? How it's okay to cry like Mark Sampson said to his Lionesses? Because YOU totally just cried watching Abby and Christie lift that trophy. . .

Is it politics? International relations? How Carli Lloyd should be on the $10 bill?

Rrrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh. No. No no no no NO.

This wasn't about the realms of the world primarily dominated by men. It wasn't about FIFA's sexist president and his penchant for corruption. This was a month of high-quality athletic competition conducted by a group of female athletes with the utmost love for--

Wait. 

That's it. 
* * *

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup was about love.

LOVE of country. Women from 24 teams competed in this tournament, a substantial expansion from 2011's 16 squads. The colors of each kit burst forth brighter than those from any other international competition I've witnessed. . .somehow those collections of cloth, while still creating team unity, served to perfectly highlight each nation's individuality.

My personal favs for uniforms included Japan (loved the pink swatch!), the Netherlands, and these killer threads for the Nigerian squad:

The Nigerian Women's National Soccer Team. (Photo Credit: Business Day Online)
These women love their teams.

LOVE of the game. Players in this World Cup sacrificed more than sweat. Forced to wage their battles on artificial turf, the athletes sustained painful injuries and dealt with on-field temperatures as high as 120 degrees. And although the US-Japan final yesterday drew 24.5 MILLION VIEWERS (obliterating the USA TV record ratings for a soccer match), my winning USA squad is getting 77% less prize money than the German men's team did for their victory last year.

Some of the refereeing was crap. The bracketing was inane. A Sports Illustrated web writer said neither this tournament nor women's sports in general were worth watching. Sepp Blatter couldn't be bothered to show his face at the final match.

But because women endure. . .because women rise to impossible challenges. . .and because competitive blood rages through the veins of women athletes, this happened. And this. And THIS. 

AND THIS, FOR THE LOVE OF PEANUT BUTTER AND ALL ELSE THAT IS HOLY:


These women love their game.

And LOVE of. . .well, love. While I now count Julie Johnston as my new favorite USWNT player, Abby Wambach will forever have my fan heart. Her looks and her leadership have led to a gigantic crush--I mean, have you SEEN her ESPN Bodies Issue photos?

So of course my eyes were on her immediately after the final whistle sounded. I watched as she ran straight out of bounds to the front row. I watched as she stopped in front of a woman with long brown hair sporting a "WAMBACH" jersey. I watched, overjoyed, as one of the world's top athletes pulled her wife in close for a celebratory kiss.

Marriage equality has been the law of our land for eleven days now. But it wasn't until Sunday--at that precise moment--that I realized the decision's true power.
Abby Wambach celebrates the USA's World Cup win with a flag from her wife, Sarah Huffman.
(Photo Credit: ME!)

I took this picture of Abby shortly after that kiss. This woman loves her team. She loves her game. And she loves her life partner.

May we all draw inspiration on those three fronts. . .not only from her but every single athlete who took the field in the Great White North.

Love always,

#14

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Where to Watch in PDX: Women's World Cup Final

You cheered as the US took down Germany Tuesday evening.

You gasped in disbelief as Japan slipped from England's clutches yesterday afternoon.

Now, fair Rose City Resident, you need a place to watch Sunday's final. Where you'll watch Carli Lloyd continue to lead. Where you'll see if Abby Wambach can surpass Marta as the all-time Women's World Cup goal scorer.

Where you'll witness the rematch between The Land of the Rising Sun and The Home of the Free and the Brave.

Courtesy of Oregon Live, HERE is your comprehensive guide to finding that perfect spot.

Four years ago, these two teams met in a clash so grueling, so epic, that it went all the way to penalty kicks before the Japanese team emerged victorious.

Will Japan repeat its achievement and stand atop the world of women's soccer?

Or can the United States, who has improved steadily over the course of the tournament, win their first World Cup since 1999? 

Grab some friends, grab some drinks, and, as Samuel L. Jackson might say, "Hold on to your butts."

Photo Credit: soccerwire.com

Monday, April 6, 2015

On Running (Out of Steam)

A 3200 has four parts. The way I used to run it, anyway.

That's me, junior year of high school. I ran on my toes before it was cool, Portland.

The first mile is just sort of all chunked together. It takes a bit for your body to wake up and remember that yes, you'll be running for the next 14 minutes or so, no, you can't really do anything about the wedgie you got halfway through Lap 2, and yes, you do actually like this, you little masochistic shithead. But it's pretty smooth after that initial mental hurdle (see what I did there?).

Laps 5 and 6 are fantastic. You settle into a rhythm and feel your body wholly connected with the track beneath. Your muscles, enveloped in a bright golden light, work in stunningly beautiful harmony to propel you towards the finish line. You start to relish the deep, hard breaths first erupting from your lungs and then sailing back into your chest with the same ferocity.

And then comes Lap 7.

Lap 7 of a two-mile race is basically the gods laughing at you: Nike, Ares, and Atalanta are all having a blast watching you suffer. Your legs burn, your heart threatens to explode, and that pesky fourth right intercostal muscle has decided that this is a GREAT time to spasm uncontrollably. "You got this," urges Steve Prefontaine from his perch on high--but there's worry in his eyes.


"I dunno, Babe [Didrickson]. She looks pretty done for."
 Source: chitwoodandhobbes.com

I am currently square in the middle of Lap 7.

This post isn't about my recent job loss, although working for an organization that directly benefits those in need sure did contribute to Laps 5 and 6 of Life in Portland feeling fan-fucking-tastic.

No, this is about finding a running buddy.

Last July I met someone I thought could be my pacer. Someone who pushed me yet cheered me on in all my endeavors. I was left more breathless when he kissed me than by any race I'd ever run. . .felt my blood thundering through every capillary faster than a four-minute mile pace in the wake of his touch.

Unfortunately, he's a foot taller than me, and so when he faltered in his own race mid-November I got tangled in those long legs and fell. Hard.

"Well. . .


". . .shit."









And there's no sugar-coating it. I'm still running my race, but my knees are bleeding from hitting the track, my breath is coming in ragged, wheezing gasps, my uniform is torn, and that stupid uneven right collarbone he said he liked so much feels broken just like my spirit.

I can see him pulling away, racing towards a future that doesn't appear to include me.

This brutal fall has shaken my faith in love and I honestly have no idea what the fuck I'm doing anymore. I feel like a goddamn idiot for still having him in my sights, still wondering if we might run together someday. I know some people in my life agree with that self-given moniker, because who in her right mind would want to run one more split with him?

Who would be foolish enough to believe that he's the one to help me achieve my personal best?

I have no idea how I'm going to get through one more lonely night of licking my wounds and trying desperately to find my pace again. No idea how to be my own hero instead of someone else's mid-race distraction.

No idea how I'm going to get to Lap 8.

Always,

#14

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Back To The Keyboard

I'm at a crossroads. Not anything as morose as Bone-Thugz-N-Harmony's, and nowhere nearly as fashionable as that of the clothing trading company.

But one nonetheless.

I've been in Portland for two and a half years now, having learned so much about myself. I've grown, my circle of friends has grown, my hair has grown. My teammates on the Willamette Hurling Club are some of the best men and women I've ever met.

After a recent series of difficult events, though, I'm reeling, scrabbling for solid ground the way Chris Paul tried to flail at Chris Kaman in the Blazers' loss on Wednesday night. Loneliness and ill health are threatening to eclipse the positivity I've worked so hard to make shine in my life.

So I'm coming back here, at least for a little while--and trying not to worry so much about being perfect or writing just about games & sports. This blog is about me too: my frustrations, fears, and foibles but also fantastic, friendly, and fiery self.

The new tagline of Rainy Day Women is "Where one female athlete sounds off for many." To anyone interested in accompanying this gal on her continued written journey, welcome.

And as Samuel L. says in Jurassic Park, "Hold onto your butts."

Always,

#14

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ink It/Tap It/Type It: Portland Thorns FC 2014 Schedule


Spring and summer are busy times in Portland. With so much to do and such limited sunshine to take advantage of, it can be tough to prioritize.

However, I suggest you all be sure to keep some Saturday and Wednesday evenings free from April to August. . .to see your 2013 NWSL Champions, the Portland Thorns! With new head coach Paul Riley leading the squad that sports not only nationally recognized names but also talented local heroes, this season is going to smell sweet.

Go check out the schedule HERE, and if you ink a couple games on your calendar be sure to let this season ticket holder know so we can sit together!

BAON (By Any Other Name),

Steph


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ink It/Tap It/Type It: Rose City Rollers 2014 Schedule

Dear Portland,

Has there been a serious lack of wheeled mayhem in your life as of late? Do you find yourself yearning for clever nicknames and impressive athleticism? Maybe that New Year's resolution hasn't worked out so well and you want to commit to something else besides fitting into your old skinny jeans.

If that's the case, look no further than the ROSE CITY ROLLERS. Portland's fine collection of roller derby squads is celebrating ten years on the track and they deserve your support!

Now go grab a pen and take down these dates:

18-Jan - Season Opener 2014 @ Memorial Coliseum

7-Feb – Guns N Rollers vs. Heartless Heathers
8-Feb – Break Neck Betties vs. High Rollers
21-Feb – Guns N Rollers vs. High Rollers
22-Feb – Break Neck Betties vs. Heartless Heathers
23-Feb – Rosebuds: Death Scar Derby Droids vs. Undead Avengers

7-Mar – Break Neck Betties vs. High Rollers
8-Mar – Rosebuds 2014 Home Season Championships (double header)
21-Mar – Guns N Rollers vs. Heartless Heathers
22-Mar – LA Derby Dolls Travel Teams Double Header: Rosebuds vs. LADD (jr), Wheels of Justice vs. The LA Ri-Ettes

11-Apr – Break Neck Betties vs. Heartless Heathers
12-Apr – Guns N Rollers vs. High Rollers

9-May – Break Neck Betties vs. Guns N Rollers
10-May – Heartless Heathers vs. High Rollers
16-May - Heartless Heathers vs. Seattle’s Derby Liberation Front
17-May – WOJ vs. Montreal’s New Skids on the Block
18-May – Rosebuds Travel Team vs. I-5 Rollergirls

14-Jun – RCR 2014 Home Season Championships @ Memorial Coliseum
27-Jun – Axles of Annihilation (RCR Travel B Team) vs. TBA
28-Jun – Wheels of Justice vs. Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars

22-Aug – Wheels of Justice vs. TBA
23-Aug – Axles of Annihilation vs. TBA

26-Sep – High Rollers vs. Eugene’s Skatesaphrenics
27-Sep – Rosebuds: Season Opener (double header)

17-Oct – TBD
18-Oct – Guns N Rollers vs. Salem’s 8 Wheel Assassins
19-Oct – Rosebuds: Home team game

14-Nov – Break Neck Betties vs. Tacoma’s Wave of Mutilation
15-Nov – Rosebuds: Home team game – double header

7-Dec – 4×4 Portland vs. Seattle home teams @ Memorial Coliseum

All bouts take place at the Oaks Amusement Park Hangar unless otherwise specified.

Want tickets? Go get 'em HERE.

Shoutin' out for my RCR Ladies,

#13