America is currently and quite often abashed in debates, from the upcoming presidential election to citizens’ rights and everything in between. As someone directly uninvolved with perhaps both sides, it sometimes proves difficult to take a stance, if you must. What if you were in someone else’s position? What if you were part of the minority group who feels the abuse of their rights? These questions are important to consider.
A wise professor once told me some great information: the making of a valid argument only can come when counterarguments are acknowledged. Though it is sometimes impossible to know and understand the other side fully, when opposing validities are recognized, it gives more concreteness to your own. Physically, this is only possible in a few ways but psychologically, our brains make this difficult. Dispositions can be broken if just for a moment, but predispositions inherently are hard to break; they have been ingrained for so long. It is important to note I am not saying it is impossible to change your mind and drift to the other side, I am simply saying it is more difficult than simply just “changing.”
One issue that I find myself on the minority side is women in athletics. As a woman who has competed at an international level in multiple sports, I rarely define myself as a “woman in sports” but more of, “an athlete playing the game.” Despite scientifically proven physical difference between men and women, what makes me different? I have not fully asked myself this question until recently. Until Jessica Mendoza.
A softball player myself, Jessica Mendoza became a role model for me during the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. When I first saw her play, I studied her every move though we were more different than similar. She was an outfielder; I was predominately an infielder. She is five foot, nine inches tall; I am five foot, four inches tall. She was a power hitter; I am generally a contact hitter. She was a four-time All-American at Stanford; I dreamed of going to Stanford. So why did I decide to look up to her?
Mendoza has set the standard of women in athletics. In 2015, she became the first female commentator EVER to call a MLB game for ESPN. Later that year, she became the first female analyst to call an MLB Post-Season Game. Add this to her resume of being the first female to also call an NCAA Baseball College World Series Game. She has had a lot of “firsts” but notes in her interview with ‘Rolling Stone,’ "Everybody's always asking, 'How do you feel calling your first postseason game? Your first this; your first that,'" she says. But for Mendoza, she's just thinking about the job she's there to do. "It's a baseball game, so really my mind is just on Jake Arrieta throwing or these Dodgers hitters."’
Man, woman, dog, cat, gerbil, or turtle, if you can call a good baseball game, you should be the one calling the game. And she calls a fantastic game. If you have not, you should go have a listen yourself by throwing it back to this outrageously exciting MLB Postseason. Recently, a minor league pitcher in the Houston Astros Organization, tweeted the comment below before deleting it. The Astros issued a classy apology soon after.
For those who know me, you know I am not one to engage in debates and I generally avoid controversy (it’s the Swedish in me). I do not consider this a debate, but a talking point to discuss roles in society and why they are defined the way that they are. It is not easy to control your emotions, but do remember you have your mind to come up with solutions no matter how difficult this may seem.
So here I am going against everything I said in the beginning of this article, asking for a discussion while on the minority side of one. Does sympathizing with the other side in a disagreement seem more plausible when you are on the minority side yourself? It does for me.
So why did I hold Jessica Mendoza in such high regards when I was young and still do now? Because she was always smiling, always present, and absolutely loved what she was doing. I loved and still love watching her passion. If we all put the same mentality towards our profession, family, and life, we would be unstoppable.