“I’m getting tickets for the Atlanta Dream when the season restarts,” I say to my sons as we had lunch last Saturday.
“The Atlanta who?” my 8-year old inquires with a hint of smugness and sarcasm in his voice.
He’s quick-witted and a bit of a smarty pants, a chip off the old block.
“The local WNBA team,” I announced hoping to deliver clarity and a hint of reprimand at the same time. “They’re awesome, I’ve seen them play, and we need to support them.”
“Girls playing basketball, mom?” my 8-year old continues, rolls his eyes and takes another bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Little crumbs accumulate in the corners of his mouth.
No he didn’t.
“Yeah, imagine that,” I say. “And for the record they’re women, not girls. Although girls do play basketball and quite well,” I added for good measure. I felt a little heat rise in me.
Where did I go wrong with this kid?
“Girls can play basketball,” my 11-year old sang. He’s a different personality, usually neutral on all topics, that is until you strike a chord with something he feels passionate about – then he’s comes at you with both barrels loaded. “I’ll go with you, Mom.”
I smiled in his direction.
“Well it’s not really a choice in the matter, we’re going…period. Dad too.”
I searched their little faces for objections, everyone seemed fine with the decision. The room went silent as we finished our lunches.
“Mom, you played basketball, right?” My teenage son prodded.
I knew where this was going. A few months ago during the holiday season, we came across some of my yearbooks from high school. I played softball and basketball since I was a tween and then later in high school.
That’s not the interesting part.
What’s interesting is that my senior year, my varsity team had an abysmal record. We lost many-many games. I won’t disclose the record here; let’s just say we lost by a basket or two most of the time, and then by wider margins in other games.
It still burns a little.
And trust me it didn’t help that I was no Tangela Smith. She’s got skills, I got lucky and made baskets occasionally. My teammates on the other hand were pretty good.
“You know I was on the team, little boy,” I answered him pulling my brows together. “Where is this leading?”
“Nowhere,” he raises his hands in defense. “Just saying…so we could know where this is coming from.”
Did I tell you he was the passive aggressive one? Didn’t get that from me.
“You know there was a time when women and girls were not allowed to play sports in schools or professionally,” I began. All eyes were on me now. I went on to describe how provisions under Title 9 opened the door for women to have access to athletics. How the WNBA started in 1996, 50 years after the NBA started, and that it created opportunities for women to play professionally in the United States.
At this point, no one was chewing or fidgeting. I had their undivided attention.
“It’s like having the desire and God-given ability to do something and then being told that you can’t do it all because you wear a bra.”
“Eww,” they all sang in unison.
“How would you feel if your sister wanted to play a sport but was told she couldn’t because she’s a girl?”
“That’s not right,” my 8-year old said immediately.
There’s hope for him yet, y’all.
So come this May, my family and I will be in the stands cheering on our Atlanta Dream. Is there a WNBA team in your city? Have you supported them? If not, there’s no time like the present, the 2014 season will begin in a few months. Get your tickets today.
As we continue to celebrate women’s history, let’s remember that there are those that continue to blaze trails for us in sports every day.