LIZA HIGLEY– In light of the “Me Too” movement, among other recent events documenting a movement towards gender equality, National Girls and Women in Sports Day takes on a more important meaning: to celebrate and appreciate the contributions women have made in the world of athletics. This past Thursday marked the 32nd National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a day that has become more significant due to these movements.
In honor of the day, Denison’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council put on a screening of Battle of the Sexes, a 2017 comedy starring Emma Stone and Denison’s very own Steve Carell. This true story tells of the 1973 tennis match between women’s champion tennis play Billie Jean King, and men’s champion Bobby Riggs.
The plot circles around King, a strong advocate for women’s equality. After refusing to participate in a tennis tournament where the top prize was one-eighth of the men’s prize despite equal ticket sales, King starts her own tennis tour, recruiting several other female tennis players. Although they struggle at first, they soon win the sponsorship of Virginia Slims cigarette company and begin to make waves in the world of women’s tennis. Men’s tennis player, Bobby Riggs, attempts to assert his male dominance, and challenges star player Billie Jean King to a match.
Eventually, King accepts, and despite many who thought she would lose, was able to beat Riggs, proving the validity of women’s sports and disproving chauvinists everywhere. A subplot describes King’s secret affair with her hairdresser and the rejection of the traditional housewife roles. Battle of the Sexes showcases a powerful female role model, one that helped to redefine stereotypes and pave the way for female athletes everywhere.
The movie screening was a big hit among student-athletes. Varsity athletes from across campus were invited to attend, and pizza was provided. Freshman education major and member of the Varsity Field Hockey Team, Kerry Lawler said, “It was really cool to see the main character overcome all of the struggles and issues she faced with being a female athlete. It was nice to take a part of my Thursday to think about what it means to be a woman in sports and it is very cool to see how far women’s rights have come.”
With a goal to increase understanding of women’s issues, Battle of the Sexes is a culturally relevant film that showcases the progress that has been made in women’s rights.
Especially in today’s climate, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the women athletes in Denison’s community, and their contributions on campus.