You will have to forgive me, but what follows is social commentary. I know, we get preached at enough from all corners, but in this you will have to indulge me.
Auburn University (my alma mater) has a softball team. It’s had one for almost 20 years. And to be perfectly frank, I have not paid it much attention. Until now. And friends, that has been a mistake.
It hasn’t been a mistake merely because women in general, and women’s collegiate athletics in particular, deserve the same recognition and respect as their male counterparts (they do), but rather, on a purely selfish level, I have been depriving myself of some damn good sport.
I started realizing this a little over a year ago, after I attended maybe my second softball game at Auburn since the program’s inception. Sadly, I have lived here virtually that entire time span, and for most of said span, it didn’t even cost anything to go. So really, there’s no excuse. But I didn’t. And that’s a shame because I have missed out on a lot, and judging from anecdotal evidence from around town, I’m not alone.
Auburn’s softball team is having a great season. A record-breaking season. A historic season. Those are not hyperbolic platitudes. They are facts. And because of that, people like me are starting to pay attention. I regret that it has taken this long, and to the players and coaches, past and present, I offer my heartfelt apologies. But I am all in now.
Here comes the social commentary.
Recently I heard a dad of four (three boys, one girl) talk about taking his daughter to some of the softball games to see Auburn’s team in action. And I think that is great. I have heard similar thoughts from many parents lately. But friends, if you think that it’s only important for you daughters to watch this team, then you are shortchanging yourselves and your sons.
Let me ask you a question. Is it important for your son to see good examples of selfless teamwork? Is it important for them to witness hard work and perseverance? Do you think your son might learn something about integrity and fair play and respecting others by seeing it demonstrated at the highest level in collegiate athletics? Would you like for your son to see things like striving for excellence and working towards a future goal with dogged determination, while keeping a spirit of joy and the knowledge that sports are games to be played and enjoyed? Would you and your son enjoy being entertained and engaged by well executed, fast-paced play while your son is learning all of these life lessons? Of course you would.
So why do you care if the athletes exhibiting all of those qualities and more are women? Do you not point towards male leaders in medicine, politics and business as examples of what your daughters may accomplish in life?
What Auburn softball is accomplishing is worthy of praise and admiration on it’s own merits, not because it’s a group of girls playing a girl’s game pretty well.
This is sport at the highest level, and if you think sport at the highest level has merit in SEC or NFL football, Major League Baseball, the NBA, or the PGA, then what Auburn softball is doing deserves and demands your respect. Not as some nice little thing for your daughter, where she can go watch “the big girls play”, but as the legitimate athletic endeavor it is.
Auburn Softball is something all of us can watch, admire, enjoy, and learn from.
See ya’ Friday.
Rich Perkins hosts The Drive, a weekday sports call-in show heard in Auburn on ESPN 106.5 and around the universe at espnau.com. He also has a little blog he occasionally updates with things that mostly amuse only him. Also, he thinks the movie Diner is one of the greatest movies of all time. Don’t ask. You can read his previous TWER’ings here.
Related: Damn you, Auburn.
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Well said, Rich.
What I like about softball is that it is more than just a pitching duel. You will see a lot of fielding and infield plays. It happens fast because the bases are closer together.