Apr 8, 201012:07 PMPlaying for Our Team
Lesbian Sports blog
Basketball in the park
During the summer months, I love playing basketball in the park. Once a week, a few friends and I head down to shoot some hoops on the outdoor courts. Usually, the courts are overcrowded with young boys and grown men looking to prove that they are all the second coming of Michael Jordan. We are always outnumbered, and have to wait our turn for a chance to play against them.
So when my friend Yolanda and I decided to dust off our basketball sneakers from the winter and head down the park on the first warm, sunny day of spring, I wasn’t surprised to see that the courts were already crowded. We chose a spot, called “next” and patiently waited our turn. As soon as we stepped out on the court to play the winning team, one of the players stated his position quite clearly.
“I’m not checking a girl,” he said.
Yolanda and I exchanged glances.
“No offense or anything,” he continued. “I just won’t check a girl ‘cause I know I won’t play as hard.”
Yolanda and I smiled. It’s not like we haven’t head this sort of thing before. I grew up playing basketball against my brothers and their friends, and against all of the guys in my college intramural league. I played in a three-on-three tournament with my brothers three years ago. I was the only girl in our bracket, and we came in third place out of 20 or so teams.
Needless to say, I wasn’t offended. I actually felt sorry for the guy. He didn’t want to “check a girl” not because he wouldn’t play as hard, but because he was afraid of being shown up. Yolanda whispered this exact statement to me before we began to play. I nodded. We left it alone.
There were two other guys on our team, and one of them guarded Mr. “I-won’t-check-a-girl” man so that he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. We quickly proved our point as we jumped ahead in the score. This team had been winning every game, and we were the first team to get a lead on them—with two girls on our side. Even though we ended up losing by two points, I was happy to get out and play hard. It’s not about winning for me, it’s just about having fun and playing ball.
Unfortunately, Mr. “I-won’t-check-a-girl’s” comments aren’t an isolated incident. I have had to prove that I am just as good of a baller as any guy all of my life. But I don’t fool myself into thinking that I am an undiscovered Diana Taurasi, either. I know where I stand, but I always give it my all—no matter who I am guarding. Maybe next time I step on the court, I’ll say, “I’m not checking a guy.”
When they look at me funny, I’ll smile.
“No offense or anything. I just won’t check a guy because I know I’ll play my hardest and make him feel like less of a man.”
I wonder what would have happened if Maya Moore had been on my team. The UCONN superstar is the best college women’s basketball player in the country. She led UCONN to back-to-back undefeated seasons and NCAA Championships. Would he have “checked” her?
I seriously doubt it.
Blogger Bio: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a versatile writer, having experience as a journalist, copywriter, author, freelancer and blogger. She is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson (also a Lambda Literary Award finalist). Her recent novel, The Crabapple Tree, was published in May 2009. In addition to writing short stories and novels, Lyndsey also contributes regularly to a variety of national and local publications. Visit lyndseydarcangelo.com for more information.