Giving Lloyd a chance is sexist
By Eric Wilkins, Contributor
There’s an audible “thud” as a precise strike sends the ball sailing before touching down half-a-field away. There’s no feminist scream of equality when Carli Lloyd’s latest lands though—just the whisper of a small pro crowd watching the players warm up. After moonlighting as a kicker in practice for the Philadelphia Eagles, Lloyd has resumed her usual paces for the NWSL’s Sky Blue FC; and, as often is the case when it comes to women’s soccer outside of the USWNT, no one really cares. Sky Blue FC has one of the worst attendance records in the league; they usually manage about 2,000 fans at their park that can house about 5,000.
The end of August was rife with talk of how Lloyd could become the first woman to play in the NFL thanks to her ability to knock a ball halfway across a pitch—something her own supporters can see for pennies on the dollar every weekend. She reportedly received interest from several NFL squads soon after her video went viral. What a moment for women. What a moment for equality. What a moment for the world.
But it’s not.
In a continent constantly complaining of the infinite sexism of men, how are we able to let such complete double-standards pass without a whimper? Why is Lloyd getting a free pass for an opportunity to compete with the elite of the elite in one of the world’s most difficult leagues to hang in? Is it because she can kick field goals? Or is it because she can kick field goals and she’s a woman. The latter is the pick.
Before continuing, I need to preface that it’s absolutely fantastic that she can kick a 55-yard field goal in practice—if entirely unsurprising. She is an accomplished professional soccer player after all. If she couldn’t hit a 55-yarder it would be shocking. In the context of normal people though, it’s no small feat. The difficulty arises when you compare her to the men. There are more technical points to address, but it’s important to take on the sexism first.
Lloyd has all of part of an afternoon kicking a football, yet she’s had more tryout offers than guys who have played their whole lives. There are players who have kicked since high school, through college, and still not gotten a chance to star in the NFL. Not even a tryout. They can kick it just as far. They can kick it just as accurately. They know the proper technique. They have timing down with their centre and long-snapper. They know the clearance required to get over the blockers. They know how to kick into the wind. They can handle kickoff duties as well as field goals. They are prepared for the “icing” from the other coach. They can kick in a helmet and pads. They can hit a squib kick. They know how to hit onside kicks. They can kick calmly when there’s 11 monstrous men trying simultaneously to knock the living stuffing out of ‘em. There’s a million more points, but it should be obvious by now: She’s not as qualified as her male counterparts.
Now, this isn’t to say she can’t be as good as male kickers, but if you had two people walk in and ask for a job—regardless of gender—and one of them has a lifetime of experience and the other has a related skillset but no real experience, who are you hiring?
Is this really the representation we want? A woman playing the weakest position on the field? On a team of men, the scrawniest person being a woman? The woman being the only one who doesn’t hit, in the ultra-physical sport of football? One can debate that it’s good just to have a woman in the sport—regardless of where she plays—but is it really? If we’re talking about equality and the ability of both sexes to compete at one level, have we proved anything by inserting a woman into the one spot that people already make fun of? If a woman can compete at any other position, sure, give her a shot. But giving her a tryout at kicker is a lot like a fine-dining restaurant letting a kid wash dishes for them so he can claim he’s worked at a top kitchen; it’s tokenism.
There are over 329 million people in the United States. There are 1,696 players in the NFL. NFL athletes comprise 0.00051468% of the USA. Biologically men are stronger than women; it’s a fact. The Olympics are my favourite example to display the biological inequality among the strongest of each sex. Even at the highest level, there is a decidedly tangible difference that would prevent any woman from competing in the men’s events. Taking this into consideration, to think that Lloyd is a better athlete than any of the NFL is insane. It hasn’t happened in thousands of years of the Olympics and it certainly isn’t now. And if you truly believe in equality, she shouldn’t be offered any breaks; she should be just as good or not in it at all.
“But it’s important for women to know what they can achieve!” But is it achievement if the bar gets lowered? Are you happy about benching a few hundred pounds when the weight was actually dramatically less? When will we stop pretending women can compete in professional men’s sports? More than 99% of men in the USA aren’t good enough to play in the NFL—and that’s with the biological advantage of typically being physically stronger than women. Using that last fact for perspective, is it really sexist that we don’t have women in men’s sports?
Carli Lloyd could kick in the NFL, but if society is half as uppity about true equality and fair treatment for both sexes as it claims to be, she should never get a chance over all of those who have worked far longer and harder at their craft than she has. Lloyd also deserves better than that. She’s a two-time FIFA Player of the Year and shouldn’t be reduced to a token.