The Review has not seen an all-female sports editing team in quite some time — that is, until now.
Perhaps the anomaly that Alyssa and I represent is due to the lack of sports culture at Oberlin, lack of funding or the lesser number of female athletes within the United States as a whole. Common sense says otherwise.
While it is true that Oberlin, with its world-renowned conservatory and generally average sports teams, is more likely to attract musicians than student-athletes, female athletes do exist here. There are ten Oberlin women’s varsity teams alone and this does not include the ever popular club sports like rugby or co-ed intramural sports like soccer. There are also a number of devoted fans, many of whom are female.
Moreover, Oberlin’s sports culture extends back for decades. For example, John Heisman (the football player of Heisman trophy fame) played for and coached the Yeomen. And to know that both men and women have been competing at Oberlin for ages, one simply needs to look at the photos dating back to the early 1900’s that grace the halls of Philips Gymnasium.
Minimal funding is used as another explanation for the lack of interest in all things sports related. Newer, shinier athletic centers, more modern gymnasiums and entire departments devoted to majors in physical therapy and physical education may lure many athletes to other colleges.
Yet unlike other educational institutions, Oberlin looks to recruit well-rounded students who hope to play sports, rather than athletes who hope to get a diploma. Thus, this means that our student-athletes as a whole (including females) should be more likely to participate in publications like the Review. Our student body maintains more diverse interests than our counterparts, so it does not make sense that these varied activities do not cross both the stereotypical athlete/student and male/female/do not identify boundaries.
These lines have even been broken on a larger scale. Ever since the passing of Title IX, women have participated in athletics at perpetually increasing rates. Females have the backing of the government to participate and achieve in sports and sports related activities, so this encouragement should not be halted within the realm of sports journalism.
Although the above antics have been common scapegoats for the less-than-stellar interest in sports as compared to other colleges in the North Coast Athletic Conference, I maintain a different theory: Oberlin’s academic strength and diversity has the ability to pull students in numerous directions. Students spread themselves too thin between class work, ExCos, jobs, friends, actual athletic endeavors, clubs, travel abroad programs and the like, leaving no room for other athletic related pursuits (such as writing for the sports section).
Students hold such a variety of interests, and their paramount engagement is that of a student, so many have no desire to juggle even more commitments within their schedules. However, the voice of the student interested in sports (and, particularly, the even less expressed female voice) does not necessarily reverberate to the rest of campus. People do not read or hear or think about the athletic passions of their peers because there is no light on the subject.
Think about this: If a student’s schedule is already spread thin, one more activity will not make a large difference. If a student is passionate about something like sports, and wants to communicate that idea to the rest of the campus, he or she has the potential to inspire a much greater portion of the student body to support the athletic cause.
In the meantime, I hope that Alyssa and I are only two of many female sports editors to come.