Opinion: AU’s sendoff for the women’s basketball team was great, let’s keep it going
American University should be celebrating all women’s sports all the time
American University’s women’s basketball team recently won the Patriot League Championship and was awarded a bid to the March Madness tournament. President Sylvia Burwell and AU celebrated this accomplishment with a sending-off ceremony and multiple social media posts. It was a fantastic celebration of an amazing accomplishment and AU should be doing that more often.
Women in sports have historically been overlooked and under-celebrated. Women have had to fight for the right to play and continue to fight for equal pay. Women in sports sometimes are not even provided equal facilities, as Sedona Prince, University of Oregon basketball player, showed in the 2021 women’s March Madness tournament. Despite this, women have made huge strides in the athletic community. Our women’s teams at AU are decorated and have dominated in their sports, but have not been celebrated to this magnitude before. A celebration sendoff for a women’s sports team is a great way to show support and send the message that women’s sports matter. AU showed their support for the women’s basketball team and made it known that they matter, but it is not enough. AU has a fantastic array of women’s teams who are accomplishing new feats every season. All of our women’s sports should be celebrated and uplifted, but don’t take my word for it, take a look at their many accomplishments.
This year, our women’s swim and dive team broke the school record for the 200 freestyle relay, the 100 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relay, just to name a few. On top of that, Mimi Watts of the women’s swim and dive team was named to the All-Patriot League First Team. Kendall Goldblum just scored her 100th career goal with the AU women’s lacrosse team. AU’s women’s volleyball team came in second in the Patriot League Championship and has won 16 Patriot League titles since 2001. If that wasn’t enough, player Zeynep Uzen was named as a First Team All-Patriot League selection and Carlie Fikse was named as a Second Team All-Patriot League selection. AU women’s soccer had a fantastic and highly-anticipated game where they beat Army West Point for the first time in 12 years this season. AU even has a nationally ranked women’s field hockey team. The team just won their 12th Patriot League title and had a record of 13-3, the highest winning percentage the team has had since 2010. Not to mention the team’s honors, with Bryn Underwood being named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year, three members named to the First-Team All-Patriot League, two members named to the Second-Team All-Patriot League, and one member, Noor Coenen, honored as an All-American Second Team. Despite all of these accomplishments, some people at AU don’t know that we have a field hockey team and the rest only file into the games to get free food.
Our women’s teams have continuously chased records, won titles, earned honors and shown that they are dynamic and competitive teams to watch and support. However, large-scale university recognition has been lacking in almost all areas. I believe that AU can be a leader in the support and recognition of women’s sports, but to do so, they must give our women’s teams the celebration and coverage they deserve.
The organization Women in Sport has seen the phenomenon of sexism in sports on an international scale and is working to tackle it head-on. This organization’s mission is to “ensure equality of opportunity by focusing on getting more women and girls participating in sports” and “media coverage of women’s sports.” The organization also works to ensure that women and girls who engage with sports receive equal respect to their male counterparts. This gets right to the point: women’s sports need more investment and coverage to get to the same level of respect that men’s sports teams already have simply for being men.
Fortunately, AU has recently invested its time in media coverage for the women’s basketball team. Let's continue that trend and increase media coverage and recognition for all of our highly decorated women’s teams.
Anna Gephart is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle.