Sosa: No more gender-based sports

Columnist Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa advocates for dividing sports based on ability rather than gender. 

I have been trying to follow the news about the governor and the bill banning certain girls from playing certain sports because they were born a different biological sex. As a person who played sports in high school, I would have had zero problems with any girl that was born a different sex playing alongside or against me. However, I find that sports divided by gender are sort of silly altogether. This has been my opinion for as long as I can remember.

I feel that there are very qualified individuals who will succeed no matter who they play against. Sports should be available to all who want to compete in them based on ability. 

Are there specific characteristics that give an individual an advantage over another? Yes! But does it matter in the long term? No. Some people will always be stronger, faster, more competent than others. Let’s not forget that no matter the sport, sports are inherently unfair.

I remember my very first soccer match in kindergarten. It was a mess. I was running all over the place and trying to kick the ball into the opponent’s net. I don’t recall if we won or lost, but I also don’t remember thinking about anyone’s gender. You know why? Because it doesn’t matter.

At some point, someone decided that we needed to diverge. Boys go here, and girls go there. Boys do this, and girls do that. 

For years, I dressed as a boy, hoping I would be treated just like the boys around me. I didn’t want people to see my “girliness,” but I wanted them to know that I, too, was tough. 

Sometime in high school, I outgrew that tomboy phase of my life, but I never outgrew wanting to be treated as equals.

With women earning just a fraction of what men do, it’s easy to see that we aren’t treated as equals. You probably have seen Sedona Prince’s video on the ridiculousness of how women are treated in sports — with men having a full gym for training while women only have a set of weights. 

How do we solve this problem?

I don’t think there is a correct answer to this question. All I know is that if we don’t try to make it better for others, then what’s the point? 

Having sports based on gender only is the old way of doing things. It has worked neatly while everyone was checking the boxes they belonged to, but the times have changed, and we need to change with them. Doing something for a long time the same way doesn’t mean that something is the right thing to do.

Being open to change and adaptation is the way we have progressed forward. Imagine what happened to those who didn’t embrace fire when it was first discovered? Or where would we be if no wheels had been invented? 

Many like to use religion as a crutch to keep other people “in their places,” but the only thing religion should be used for is to make the world a better place. We don’t do that when we deny people the right to live as themselves. 

It goes without mentioning that expressing ourselves with no harm to others is what I’m talking about here. 

Ultimately, we don’t need to agree with how people choose to live their lives. We don’t even have to like it, but we must respect it. If people are choosing to express themselves in ways that are not “traditional,” who are we to stop them? Who are we to tell them they are wrong simply because they don’t fit into our nicely constructed boxes of who we think they should be?

Sports should be done in a way that allows for individuals to compete based on ability rather than what their biological sex is or was. Perhaps we can accomplish this by divisions or points or something entirely different, something that can give people options rather than limit them.

Not everyone has the same level of ability. We should account for that but not by gender alone. So, instead of trying to hold dearly onto the old way of doing things, why not move forward? Why not think of ways that we can truly account for people’s abilities and talents instead of trying to double down on ideas of a world that no longer exists?