United States

lover of the stars, flowers, and clouds
creator of ok-ish writing
“take my hand and hold my heart”

Message to Readers

Final draft, submitted as final!!!! Really hope I didn’t miss anything (insert smiling and sweating emoji)

Pucks vs. Toe Picks: How Artistic Sports are Treated Differently

July 19, 2021

       When I was eight years old, I yelled at another kid on the schoolbus.
       I was a quiet child, who’d much rather have her nose in a book than her voice heard. Nevertheless, something about the way he was sneering when he proclaimed that only activities with a ball or a puck can be called sports really set me off. At the time, I wasn't sure why I got so mad. Sure, I went to figure skating lessons once a week, but why was something deep in my core so upset about the interaction? It just felt wrong, almost unfair, to reduce an activity I had seen people work incredibly hard at to a subject of school bus banter. 
       When I was ten years old, I got angry with a teacher for the first time.
       I remember sitting there in my rainbow Skechers and itchy gray gym uniform, messy blonde ringlets falling every which way around my head, absolutely seething at the man in front of us trying to teach us about athleticism and keeping fit. There wasn’t air conditioning in the high-ceilinged gym, and the thick, sweltering air only added to the palpable tension. Our teacher didn’t seem to notice.
       Just a few minutes earlier, he had told us that figure skating was, in fact, not a sport, but an art form, and that it didn’t require as much hard work or athleticism as basketball or hockey. Again, I wasn’t entirely sure why I got so angry.
       When I was twelve years old, a group of hockey players around my age yelled at my skating friends and I during practice. 
       They were waiting for their own practice to begin, and couldn’t find anything better to do than harass us. Supposedly, we were wasting their ice time. I just stared at the huge digital clock mounted on the wall and willed it to move faster as they cupped their hands over their mouths and screamed their throats raw.
       “Figure skating sucks!” 
       “Twirly girls shouldn’t get the ice!”
       A coach skated over to me and asked if I knew them, since apparently between the banging on the plexiglass and the mocking, clumsy spins they had been shouting my name. I did know them, actually, from school— but I told her I had no clue who they were.
       Just last year, when I was fourteen years old, I looked back on my experiences and finally pieced together why these little interactions over the years had gotten me so upset. 
       No one has ever told a football player that their sport is easy. No one has ever told a hockey player that a rookie could perform just as well as a professional with little to no practice. No one has ever told a soccer player that their sport isn’t at all physically demanding, or yelled at them from the sidelines that they don’t deserve the grass they play on. So why is it ok to belittle activities like figure skating and ballet? Why is it so normal and acceptable to mock people in certain sports simply because of their passions?
       The fact of the matter is, many people can’t accept that activities that are, in their eyes, inherently ‘feminine’ could possibly be even close to as challenging as more ‘masculine’ activities. How could sports with pretty spins and pink tutus be any more difficult than a toddler dance class? Surely they don’t even come close to the physical intensity of sports with shoulder pads and polyester nets. 
       In fact, this ideology couldn’t be further from the truth. Specifically in the case of figure vs. hockey skating, figure skaters’ heart rates have been found to be a sustained 195 to 200 beats per minute over three to four minutes in a program, with slightly lower but still comparable speeds during usually an hour plus of general practice (Washington Post). In comparison, the average speed of a hockey player’s heart during fast sprints in a game is 180 beats per minute, with an absolute maximum rate of 210 (Yale Daily News). This heart rate is sustained over about 22-24 minutes of play time per game. 
       Clearly, the activities are very similar in terms of physical demand— so what’s really the difference here? Is it the actual difficulty of the sport itself, or how it tends to be perceived?
       The problem is, while hockey players wear mouth guards and learn how to shove through the defense, figure skaters don sparkly, form-fitting attire and learn how to be graceful and poised. However, not many people realize that artistic athletes require an incredible amount of strength to make their extremely difficult sports appear flowy and effortless. It’s just plain sexist to assume that typically female-dominated or traditionally viewed ‘feminine’ activities are inherently easy, just because you don’t believe that women can do things that are challenging.
     Sexism continues to be a huge issue in the athletic world. It’s not just a problem in the case of artistic sports, but is woven into the athletic world so deeply that it’s normalized at this point. That is why no one found anything out of the ordinary with the hockey players harassing us. That is why no one said anything when my teacher belittled my sport. That is why the boy on the bus, who couldn’t have been older than nine, thought it was ok to make fun of a group of activities he probably knew nothing about. These occurrences were small, rather insignificant examples, but they provide a window into what artistic athletes endure on a regular basis.
     We must recognize how prevalent and widespread sexism is in athletics in order to make a change. It’s time to open our eyes and provide the next generation of young athletes with a world where all sports are treated with respect, regardless of who plays them.
This is probably the last draft!! I’m leaving for camp this week so I won’t be able to submit any more entries 

Works Cited

Jenkins, Sally. “Compared to Olympic Figure Skating, Hockey’s Nothing.” Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/figure-skating-offers-more-physical-challenges-than-ice-hockey/2014/02/13/55d14e4c-94e2-11e3-b46a-5a3d0d2130da_story.html. Accessed 19 July 2021.

(Note: this article is rather harsh to hockey. Please know that I have nothing but the utmost respect for hockey players and the incredible difficulty of their sport, and I do not necessarily agree with everything said in the article)

Lin, Kevin, et al. “HOCKEY: Teams Utilize Heart-Rate Monitors.” Yale Daily News, 9 Feb. 2017, yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/02/09/hockey-teams-utilize-heart-rate-monitors/. Accessed 19 July 2021.

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

  • BlueWolf (Semi Hiatus)

    Congratulations. This is such an important topic. You addressed it really well. It really brought this issue of sexism in sports to my attention and you did it with a really well written, interesting, and flowing piece of writing. Amazing job. Also.... I adore Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi! (I got really excited when you said you loved the book. :) )

    20 days ago
  • kate13

    Congrats!! Thanks so much for educating me on this topic that I didn't know as much about before! This is so well written, and you totally deserve the win.

    about 1 month ago
  • Writing4Life

    Yassss! I remember reading this piece and being overwhelmed at how powerful a case you made. (also, we did the sci-fi workshop together, didn't we?) I'm so glad you won; congratulations!!

    about 2 months ago
  • The_Sunrise_Queen

    wow, this is so passionate and well written. congratulations, you deserved to win!!!

    about 2 months ago
  • ☃︎ KatelynsCupcakes ☃︎

    Congratulations! Hope to keep seeing you in future Write the World competitions!

    about 2 months ago
  • SunV

    You know how there are these pieces that you can't help but keep coming back to? This is one of them.

    about 2 months ago
  • Sophiascb

    Congrats! i remember reading one of the earlier versions of this and loving it. so deserved <3

    about 2 months ago
  • A. Penderwick

    Congratulations!! I'm so glad you own, you definitely deserve it. The writing is incredible, and so is the story you tell. I remember being wildly impressed with this when I first read it, and I'm so glad you've won!

    about 2 months ago
  • FantasyOtter12

    This is so well done!!! congrats on winning the competition, this was amazing to read :)

    about 2 months ago
  • thebookishfey

    Congratulations!! Wow, I absolutely hear you in this - I'm a dancer, and all I've heard is about how "dance isn't a real sport!" and "it's so easy, anyone can do it". This is really well-written and you deserve the win!

    about 2 months ago
  • barelybear

    Congrats! This was a really interesting read, and I loved your tone, and how clearly you showed how important this is to you. I’m always in awe of the artistic sports, and it’s so cool that you do figure skating!!

    about 2 months ago
  • Musica

    Love this piece and congrats on the win!! I'm so glad you wrote a piece like this - I can really hear your passion and determination in your writing! As someone who used to do figure skating and ballet, I feel like a lot of people need to hear this~

    about 2 months ago
  • SnowLeopard06


    about 2 months ago
  • ~madeline~

    Congrats on the win!!! You definitely deserved it! I remember reading this a while ago and telling myself I hoped it would win. I'm currently at a pre-professional ballet school, and what you say is so true. People don't realize that the 20+ hours a week I spend on dance are any different than their once-a-week class when they were five. Don't even get me started on how ballet (and I'm sure figure skating too) is considered "female" when the guys that do it are just as important as the girls, not to mention strong. Anyway. Congrats! I'm glad you could bring more visibility to this important topic!

    about 2 months ago
  • SamRose

    CongratuLATIONS! This is so good! I remember reading this a month or so ago and thinking it was really good, I think I commented even, and I'm so glad you won! Well-deserved victory. :)

    about 2 months ago
  • rwong

    congratulations on the win!!!!

    about 2 months ago
  • SunV

    Ohmigod congratulations on winning best entry!!! This deserves it so much, you've hit the topic on the mark, your writing is really straightforward, and it's just such a wonderful piece overall. So happy for you!!!

    about 2 months ago