Sunday, December 11, 2005

Deidra Wesley

Where does ambition come from?

I was talking to my brother, Curtiss, yesterday. He lives in New York, so we don't talk very often, but when we do, we spend hours on the phone. Yesterday's discussion focused on ambition. The two of us have always been surrounded by people who have nothing and want nothing, and we wondered what made us so different. We both have so much drive and determination, and we are not afraid to venture out and work hard for the things we are passionate about. We sometimes refer to ourselves as the wildcards. Growing up, we had several strikes against us. Our family has always struggled financially. I remember one day when I was younger, my mother lit candles all over the house. I didn't realize that our electricity had been turned off; I just thought Mom was doing something fun. Also, our parents were the types to keep quiet and let you find your own way, something that I'm extremely thankful for now. Although I sometimes felt that I had no support, I became resourceful and grew up much faster than my classmates. I went to high school with so many teenagers who did not know how to do laundry or even how to pump gas! One particular classmate who didn't know how to pump gas simply said, "My dad always fills the car up for me on Sundays." My brother told me about an article he read in Time magazine called The Secrets of Ambition. It lists the 25 most ambitious people and includes Oprah, Trump, and P. Diddy. The article also provides some scientific reasons for why some people just have more drive. In my opinion, ambition is found within you regardless of your upbringing and your surroundings. Some people have it in them, and others don't. Ambitious people are never complacent, never satisfied, and although it may result in a stressful, frenzied life, once an ambitious person finds their passion, all the hardships, sacrifices, and stress are well worth it.

Are Male Athletes Worth More Than Female Athletes?

A few days ago, I noticed that tickets to the men's basketball games are $5, and tickets to the women's basketball games are $3. Of couse, this sparked a lengthy discussion between my friends and I. Why are the women's tickets cheaper? Are their games just not worth as much to see or is the athletic department attempting to boost attendance at women's games by selling cheap tickets? It's no surprise that men's sports receive more attention than women's sports, and this is a topic that has always made me hot under the collar. In high school, our cheer coach always made the entire squad cheer for the boys' basketball games, but no one cheered for the girls' games. We had a heated discussion about this, and of course, the other cheerleaders complained that the girls' games were boring. I argued that maybe if we supported them more, they would be more motivated. I don't know if the situation ever improved; I never go back home.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The World of Sports is a Man's World

As a female athlete, I know firsthand the challenges we face in terms of gender equality and sexuality. Female athletes are always fighting, trying to make sure that we have all the same opportunities as our male counterparts. In addition, it is sometimes difficult to find a balance between being strong and tough and maintaining some form of feminity. I have recently started reading a magazine that caters specifically to college sports, and I noticed that male athletes are favored over females. Men are on the cover more often than females, and the few females that do appear on the cover are either accompanied by males or shown in provocative clothing or poses. Sadly, female athletes are pressured into looking feminine. It appears that in order for a female athlete to gain and retain national attention she has to be supersexy. We all remember the revealing photos of the Olympic athletes. As female athletes we want to portray ourselves as strong and confident, but we have to be aware of the type of attention that we receive. We all want to be recognized in our respective sports, but recognition can sometimes do more damage than good.

Children's Programming Is Not So Innocent

Some time ago, I was watching television with my younger brothers Thomas and Shelby who are 10 and 9. A commercial came on that showed two young girls having a great time while shopping. Thomas shook his head and said, "Girls sure do love to shop!" Of course, I had to tell him that not all girls love to shop, just like not all boys love football. I rarely go shopping, and it's not an activity that I particularly enjoy. I was shocked by the realization that children are making generalizations about the world around them based on what they see on television. I started to look for dangerous stereotypes and generalizations in children's programming. Unfortunately, they are not hard to find. Many cartoons such as "Recess" utilize several stereoytypes. One African-American character is great at sports. Another character, who is overweight and extremely sensitive, contributes to the group only through his intelligence. The other intellectual in the group fits into the nerd stereotype. She has bucked teeth and wears huge glasses. Another character represents the typical tomboy. She's rough, tough, and always up for a fight. What are we teaching our kids? that all African-Americans are good athletes? or that someone lacking physical beauty has to be an intellectual in order to contribute to American society?