As I sit here watching the 2011 Masters on television, (no, actually, I enjoy watching golf) I began to think about past lectures and their focus on women and people with disabilities. the Masters, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the four major golf tournaments played annually. The Masters is played, unlike some tournaments, at the same course every year. This course is Augusta National, one of the most beautiful and historic courses in the country. However, Augusta National is also infamous for another reason, as it is one of the few courses in the U.S. that does not allow membership to women. Women are allowed to visit the course and watch the Masters be played, but are not allowed to play it themselves. In today’s day and age, this seems preposterous. The chairman of the club maintain that their course is similar to any fraternity, sorority, boy scout group or girl scout group, in that gender is a reasonable means of acceptance.
The Masters highlights an interesting question about gender, sports and todays society. What qualifies equality? Is it allowed to attempt to level the playing field? While all sports are designed to have as equal a game as possible, why have they not tried to do so between genders? The reason seems to be that there are obvious physical disparities between the two genders. Men are typically bigger, stronger and faster than girls. Mens basketball has dunking, womens has lay-ups. These differences are across sports. However, why does this prevent them the opportunity of trying? Brittney Griner is breaking down many of these barriers. She is the 6′ 8” sophomore superstar from Baylor. For those who haven’t seen, Griner is revolutionizing the girls game in ways many others couldn’t. Griner is a shot-blocking, dunking machine. She has bigger hands than LeBron James, and a longer wingspan than Andrew Bynum.
Griner has showed that a girl can play with the flare and high-flying game of many of the men. So back to the Masters. Years ago, young women’s golfer Michelle Wie tried playing on the men’s tour, the PGA. She did, with little success. Unfortunately for her, this confirmed what many narrow-minded, ignorant men had predicted: that girls couldn’t hang with the guys. And maybe they can’t. But they shouldn’t have to. Equality is to have the same opportunities as men to succeed. Women have their own NBA and PGA. While these are less popular than their male counterparts, this is more to do with society’s stigmas and less with their ability. There is a reason women’s sports have different rules. We seek excellence in our professional sports and from our athletes. So give women a chance to demonstrate their excellence. They don’t need to be able to play on the PGA tour or compete for the Masters at Augusta National. But they most definitely need to be allowed to play for a LPGA title at Augusta National.