BY GRACE GELONE | EDITORIAL INTERN
Watching the NBA All-Star Game, a Gatorade ad I had never seen before came on, centered around what looked like a girls’ high school basketball team with the tag lines “EARN EVERYTHING” and “MADE FOR THIS.” Rarely do you see an ad solely focused on a girls’ team. Usually, these ads are focused on a high school football team, soccer team, or individual athletes participating in their own sports. The “Earn Everything” tagline is intriguing in this particular ad because women have had to earn their right to participate in and play sports. While women were rarely involved in athletics prior to Title IX, today, we see them earning gold medals in the 2018 Winter Olympics, as the US gymnasts and victims in the Larry Nassar case earned back control over themselves and their bodies and women’s basketball teams march furiously into the NCAA tournament. “Earning Everything” is not something new to women in sports and the beginning of 2018 is shining a light on their successes so far this year.
In the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang are off to a great start for Team USA’s athletes, with a total of nine gold medals, eight silver medals, and six bronze medals. Of the 23 total medals achieved, five gold, three silvers and four bronzes were won by women on Team USA. The other two bronze medals were won by Team USA’s figure skating team and Maia and Alex Shibutani, ice dance figure skating. Mirai Nagasu, a US figure skating team member, became the first woman to land the triple axel in the Olympics. When asked how she was preparing herself to lead up to that move, Nagasu said she told herself, “No, girl, you are not going to fall.” Team USA’s women continue to earn their medals, with Team USA’s only mom, Kikkan Randall, and her partner, Jessie Diggins, winning the first medal, a gold medal, in women’s cross-country skiing. Team USA women’s hockey team beat Canada in a 3-2 shootout victory, bringing home their first gold to ice hockey in 20 years. Making history and proving that “earning everything” is truly something that all Olympians, in this case women, are committed to so far in 2018.
Although 2018 is the year of the Winter Olympics, the Team USA’s Women’s Gymnastics team is making headlines spreading word on the “Me Too” Campaign and their personal stories of the abuse they faced by former team doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar’s abuse extends further than public knowledge or can even begin to comprehend, but in her testimony, Aly Raisman helps to earn back the victims’ voices, their control, and their autonomy. “We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere,” was perhaps one of Raisman’s powerful statements in her statement directed at Larry Nassar. Raisman is just one of 265 victims abused and scarred by Nassar, but Raisman and all of the victims are fighting to ensure victims of sexual abuse and assault know they have a voice and are not silenced by this.
Raisman closed her testimony with following, “My dream is that one day, everyone will know what the words ‘me too’ signify but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry, so that they will never, ever, ever have to say the words, ‘me too.’” Raisman is featured in the “Me Too” inspired Sports Illustrated issue and spoke about how valuable the experience was for her because she was “in full control. Being able to express yourself and write words on your body that mean something to you is something I’ve never had the opportunity to do before.” Raisman and all of Nassar’s victims have earned their voices back after being silenced and continue to use their voices to inspire and help those who identify with the “Me Too” campaign.
Similarly, as we begin the month of March, women’s collegiate basketball is heating up as we approach the NCAA tournament. While the women’s NCAA tournament is not marketed and publicized like the men’s, the top women’s teams in the country have proven they are hungry and ready to compete in this year’s tournament. Number one seed, UCONN, is on track for an undefeated season with a record of 28-0, followed by Mississippi State (30-0), the team that ended UCONN’s undefeated season last year with a buzzer beater pull up jumper by now senior, Morgan William. William has been struggling to find her shot this season and said to The New York Times, “I don’t know why, I feel like this year I’m missing wide open shots,” William said. “It’s all mental though. When I go shoot in the gym, I make a lot of shots. I get in the game, I just need to take my time.” William, shooting 36.6% from the floor this season, and Mississippi State anxiously await the approach of the NCAA tournament. “I like the big games because that’s when great players play their best and it’s exciting, it’s good basketball,” William said. “I guess we’re just used to these big games now.”
Words and phrases like “relentless,” “get back up, again and again,” and “made us one of a kind” and the closing line “They will not outwork us, out will us, or take what is ours, because we are Made For This” are used in the previously mentioned Gatorade ad with the theme, “Earn Everything.” Not only does this particular commercial encourage hard work, but it specifically encourages girls and women in athletics that they are “made for this” and are capable of earning everything if they put their minds to it. They can earn medals for their team in the Olympics, earn their autonomy and their voice back to speak up against abuse and oppression, like Aly Raisman and the other 255 victims of Larry Nassar’s abuse, and they can earn their spot in the NCAA tournament, hungry and ready to play their hearts out for the glory of winning the national championship. Earning everything is not a foreign concept for women, and with the bright and promising start 2018 has brought women in sports, this is just the beginning.
Each month, our editorial interns research articles written by or about women’s sports. Our Sports Round Ups is a gathering place of women sports news and voices. Our mission is to spread awareness of women’s voices in the sporting field, to help tell the stories of our community, and to inspire her own understanding and voice.