Sports•man•ship is an official term meaning: conduct becoming to one participating in a sport, such as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing.
However, there is no official word such as ‘sportswomanship’. Could this be the reason for the catty, nasty, derogatory, unhealthy way women act on an otherwise healthy feeling of competitiveness? Perhaps without a proper, official word and definition we simply don’t know what to do? Or perhaps, we have been discouraged since childhood to display an assertive, strong, aggressive nature in favor of being demure, polite and accommodating. These conflicting states, of course, become nearly impossible to balance in the heat of competitive play and when we can’t express what we really feel, we lash out at something trivial and unrelated—leaving all involved baffled at what just happened and why.
“Women. They are a mystery,” said Stephen Hawkins who was able to discover, explain and understand black holes, relativity, multiple dimensions, how the universe began and even G-d… but he couldn’t make any sense out of what makes women tick.
What does this tell us? It may not necessarily mean that we are smarter, it could be that after generations of subjugation we have developed covert unnatural ways of releasing our true and absolutely natural feelings. Having observed the behavior of women towards each other in competitive tennis, it is clear that the transition from a Country Club Tennis team player to a Black Ops agent would be relatively simple — smiling while scheming; surprise attacks; acting under cover; secretly carrying out elaborate missions without the slightest clue as to the original source… “Weaker sex?” Ha!
“We live in a culture where it is still considered more socially acceptable for a man to directly express his competitive nature. For women, this quality has been shunned as undesirable. Many women are consequently uncomfortable with both their natural feelings of wanting something and their desire to compete to get it. Having evolved under the stigma of being the “weaker sex,” women have historically been expected to be more covert or manipulative in their efforts to achieve success.” —Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., Psychology Today
This is not necessarily a bad thing. This has made us evolve into extremely powerful beings, able to take down corporations, governments and entire nations all the while getting a mani-pedi. The challenge is to understand the true effects of this power and to know when to unleash it. It may be time in our evolution for women to stop seeing each other as competition, but rather as powerful allies that together can change the world for the better… and it can all start on the court. The answer on how to do this is neatly woven into this simple ancient concept:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
If you don’t like being talked about behind your back, then don’t do it. If you don’t like being shunned for not being as good a player, then don’t do it. If you don’t like being yelled at for no apparent reason, chastised, marginalized, berated or made to feel less than, then don’t do it… lead by example and others will follow.
At the same time, give yourself permission to express your true feelings. Express your power, your ability, your beauty and your talents and never say you’re sorry. Respect and admire others for having qualities you don’t have, because you have your own gifts to be proud of. And, OWN IT! Be proud of your accomplishments and your success. When you work hard to win and be a better person, that benefits all of us. You don’t have to hide behind a veil of insecurity and depreciate your value so as not to upset others. If you are being the best you can be and putting your best forward. Who cares what they think?… Unless they think you are awesome.
We all have bad days. We all get angry and upset. And that is OK. No one needs to be happy or pretending to be 24/7 — that is unnatural. We just need to find genuine ways to release those feelings without attacking others in order to make ourselves feel better. And what better way to release tension and anxiety than to be aggressive, strong and active on the court! It is such a gift to be able to find an outlet whatever it may be for you, and take the time for yourself to unwind, uncoil and feel free. Don’t allow others or your own attitude to compromise that special time.
Let’s keep the court our happy place, a place to forget our burdens for a while, a place to work on our mind, body and soul… a place uniquely our own.
New word & definition…
Sports•woman•ship: Conduct becoming to a woman in sport such as the ability to kick butt with style and grace. Also known as “classy badass”.