Look up from your screen and onto the field

I have been frequenting the cardio room these past couple of weeks due to an unfortunate IT band injury. One of these days, I had 50—excruciating—minutes of biking with a dead phone that could provide me no source of entertainment. 

In my desperation, I turned my attention to the facility’s TVs which are always, without fail, on the Cheddar Network. If you don’t frequent the cardio room, then you are blissfully unaware of the fact that Cheddar is on a notorious loop of the same four college students talking about why they chose their major and what they think the most surprising thing about college is. It is barely cute the first time around, but by your 75th time, it could be considered a means of torture. I can regretfully say I am now able to recite the entire program. However, there are some times when this loop is interrupted by news stories that are targeted at college students. 

As I looked up at the TV monitor, I was amazed to see something other than the usual loop and instead see the headline “Future of Fortnite.” My first reaction was “Would ya look at that, something new” and then secondly I thought “Wait . . . people still play that?” Little did I know it’s part of a tournament that has a monetary prize. Like what, I’m sorry—Fortnite gives you money? I would have never given up my days of playing Minecraft if I knew that it was going to make me money one day. Another thing that really got me was that they called it the World Cup, like it’s FIFA or something—you can find a more original name than that. 

I couldn’t focus much on the rest of the story because the subtitles weren’t very accurate and the fact that this was so bizarre to me. Like yes, I knew that video gaming was becoming a thing in the sports world, I just never thought it would be on this scale.

I decided to do some more research, because my curiosity had been piqued regarding this whole eSports world that I had neglected to notice. This is when I found out that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has conferences working to sponsor eSports. There is an entire article on the NCAA’s official site dedicated to eSports and their future as official NCAA sports due to the growing number of universities that are establishing varsity eSports teams. 

You know what, good for you NCAA: Break the boundaries of what we would traditionally consider a sport to give people the opportunity to show off their skills in this digital age. But answer me this, how can you establish varsity eSports as a part of your organization before you include women’s flag football?

Where I am from in New York, flag football was a huge thing, and our high school team wasn’t half bad. In fact, they were the best in New York City—which I consider a pretty big deal since that title doesn’t come without its fair share of work. 

In my senior year of high school, I remember asking a lot of those girls if they were going to play flag football in college—they were obviously good enough and cared a lot about the sport. That is when they told me that they would without a doubt continue playing if it was offered as an intramural sport, but the NCAA does not sponsor women’s flag football teams.   This struck me as strange at the time because it’s as much a sport as any other. It involves dedication, hard work, and effort—yet it won’t be recognized as a sport. Why? 

Why is it recognized on the high school level as a sport in leagues like Public School Athletic Association (PSAL) and Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) but not on the collegiate level?

And now we’re going to make eSports a thing before flag football? That’s not odd to anyone else, that the physical contact sport is being marginalized by computer games people play in their mother’s basement?

We are never going to break this social stigma that women don’t belong on the sports field. Can women not be a part of your Sunday night football unless they’re in a cheerleading costume on the sideline? 

Sure, you can argue all you want that women can play eSports as well as men, so it therefore cannot be an issue of gender. But it is; there are a plethora of articles that discuss the direct targeting of males, but not females, in eSports marketing. Video games are notoriously a part of the patriarchy, with a very small minority of gamers being female.

Go ahead, give me a list of names of women who play eSports to defend this obviously toxic masculine environment. I can give you one double its length with male names—easily.

 It is predominantly male; this is a fact that cannot be denied, just as women’s flag football is entirely female. Argue all you want that video gamers are a marginalized group of males who aren’t represented enough. I can give you a long history of women being denied things because males said no, and guess what? Women’s flag football is just another example of the suppression of female talent. 

Don’t try telling me that video gaming is more of a sport than flag football, or that the engagement of the public isn’t directed towards flag football. There are girls out there who are ready to play; when are you going to see them NCAA?

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