Some people say that the quality of play differential between men's and women's sports is enough to keep them away from the latter. Women's sports move slower, they argue, and the athletes aren't as strong.
As a reporter and as a fan, I've watched both sexes at play, and I don't agree. Yes, men's hockey is faster-paced than women's hockey. And yes, some of the men's hockey players are destined for the pros, whereas the same can't be said of the women. But every team plays teams of comparable abilities, and I've never noticed the level of competition to vary markedly from one sport to another, or one gender to another. I don't think that hard-fought, one-goal victory counts more if more people are watching.
In our society, the term professional is used to distinguish one achievement, or one achiever, from another. There are some people and some qualities we favor, time and again. We support our hand-picked favorites with money, or with attendance at college sporting events, or with newspaper coverage. We enjoy the positive reinforcement of shared values.
What rankled most, sophomore year, was my editor saying that the women's soccer team wasn't professional enough. By whose standards? If he meant Harvard's standards, then he implicity meant The Crimson's standards as well, and that's a problem.
Game stories report scores. But columns and editorials are subjective by definition. When we have the chance, as journalists, we've got to do more than reflect opinion--we've got to question and analyze opinion as well, especially when the society we cover displays problematic attitudes.
One hundred years from now, men's sports will probably still be drawing the big crowds. For the time being, women athletes at Harvard can derive some satisfaction from training and playing at some of the best facilities in the nation--but they deserve more. They deserve respect equal to their abilities, regardless of attendance figures.
Jessica Dorman was co-sports editor of The Crimson from February of 1986 until January of 1987.