The silence from women’s sports supporters was deafening.
A historic moment in women’s sports transpired recently.
If you went to the front soccer pages of the major sports sites in America during the event, you barely saw a mention of it – (ESPN FC excluded).
Not USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, SB Nation (you have to dig around for it), Sports Illustrated, Vice Sports – nothing, zilch, zippo, nada.
What am I referring too?
Liga MX Femenil
Last month, I wrote a piece for The Shadow League discussing Major League Soccer’s attempts to combat racism in their sport. In it, I told the story of a mission trip to Mexico 10 years ago.
I described how our group went to a juvenile detention center and mingled with the residents in the large courtyard area. Being the sporty person I am – okay, not so much anymore – I readily joined in a volleyball game and then a soccer game (on concrete).
There is an undercurrent of machismo in the Mexican culture. In some areas it’s loud and pronounced, while in others it’s subtle. This center had a mix of both.
I didn’t care. I just wanted to play.
I played. I got knocked down. I got back up.
And, I proved myself.
They accepted me.
No small feat when you understand the culture. Most of the girls at the center didn’t want to play at all. Why?
Culture can be a dictator. How it is, dictates how you will be. Culture in Mexico has often been the men play sports. Women stay at home, raise the children, cook, clean, etc.
It’s just how it is (was) down there. But, not in my Phoenix, Arizona home.
Youngest child and third daughter of a single mom, sports was a normal thing in my house.
My siblings all played sports. I played sports. My mother loved sports of all kinds. Even in her 80’s, she still loves watching them today.
Whereas most women in sports media gained their love of sports from their fathers, I get mine from my mother. Her mother, from what I know, wasn’t into sports like her. I remember Grandma Margie as a tough firecracker of a woman who knew how to take care of her home while Tata John worked in their field. Whenever we visited, she was always cooking.
It’s a similar scenario for many families across Mexico, so it came as no surprise that many of the girls at the juvenile center didn’t participate in the games.
Fast forward to late 2016.
In December, it was announced that a new women’s league was being formed in Mexico.
"Se trató la posibilidad de internacionalizar a los clubes del FutMX. Se aprobó la creación de la LIGA MX Femenil"
— LIGA Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMX) December 5, 2016
Now, this wasn’t just any league. This was a league with the backing (think = $$$$) of the top flight league in men’s fútbol: Liga Bancomer MX. Eight of the 18 men’s teams fielded women’s teams for the inaugural Copa de La Liga MX Femenil tournament.
The teams, including tournament champion Pachúca, will do some touring now and during the summer before actual league play begins with the Apertura this fall.
The backing of Liga Bancomer MX is key to the success of this league, as will the media coverage of it. That is why I was so interested to see how, if at all, media here in America would cover this tournament.
ESPN FC covered it. SB Nation (sort of) did, but you have to do some digging to find their stories now. Where were the USA Today, New York Times stories? VICE? Even espnW? Think Progress?
Unless I missed them, they were nowhere to be found.
Where were all the advocates for women’s sports? Where were all the people who take to Twitter any time someone disparages women’s sports? Where were those who talk about growing the game?
Their silence was deafening.
Was it because this was Mexico and not the United States? If the goal is to “grow the game” or increase opportunities for girls/women to play sports, then efforts need to be focused beyond this country. If the goal is to provide opportunities for women and girls to play sports, why wouldn’t you support a sport in a machismo culture?
Lack of knowledge is no excuse. If you’re an advocate of women’s sports, you make it your business to know when girls and women are getting new opportunities to play sports.
I’m not talking to those who aren’t advocates. I’m all for liking and watching the sports you want to watch. Don’t like women’s sports? Don’t watch and don’t blast those who do. Watch what you want. Support the sports you like.
No, I’m talking to those who say they support women’s sports, yet ignore a prime opportunity for girls and women in our neighbors to the south.
Make of it what you will. As for me, the hypocrisy doesn’t surprise me. I guess it’s too much to ask them to look past their own filters of knowledge.
Can’t cross those “borders” now, can they?
EXTRA: To say there were a few that weren’t happy about it….well…let’s just say this would be a good time to learn how to use Google Translate.
VERGÜENZA. Increíble cuánta misoginia puede haber en este país.
¿Hay que ignorar este tipo de comentarios? pic.twitter.com/TcyEWjp9Tk
— Georgina Larruz J. (@LarruzMG) May 3, 2017