How many times have we heard someone tell an athlete or celebrity to “just stick to [profession]” over the past few years? How many times have we heard it directed at us?
The thing is, that “just stick to X” is a tactic of oppression. It’s used to shut down dialogue and discourse. To dehumanize someone else by claiming that they have no right to engage with public interests and concerns.
It means “sit down and shut up.”
And we have never been the kind of people to do that.
Sticking to sports as a site engaged in covering women’s sports in 2017 is impractical at best and journalistic malpractice at worst.
When a site is born there are some things that must be decided on. Some of these decisions are low-impact: the name of the site, the style, and aesthetics of the content. Some decisions more complex, the kind of things that have a lasting influence on the soul of the site: the content, the tone, the staff.
When we created Backline Soccer over a year ago now, we didn’t actually think about whether or not we would “just stick to sports” and pretend like the world of women’s soccer was some kind of Narnia, where what happens on the pitch has no effect on the outsider world and vice versa. But it’s become more and more apparent as we grow and learn that covering sports is an inherently political act. Playing pro sports is an inherently political act.
And for female athletes and the coverage of women’s sports, even more so.
This week we are featuring a series of staff op-eds on why we–as individuals, as a site, as a league–can not and will not sit down and shut up. Why we will not be silent about larger issues, about politics and culture and their impact on the sports and athletes. Or the impact of sports and athletes on them.
The first in our series will be an editorial in response to Anson Dorrance’s troubling commentary on the Houston Dash’s Poliana just this past weekend. Later, Becca Kimble will share her piece on the complexities of being an athlete and being a fan in our social-media dominated culture. Elizabeth Wawrzyniak will take us on a tour of how the political is everything. And last, we’ll feature a selection of short pieces by staff members explaining why they can’t and won’t just stick to sports.
So stay tuned, and feel free to share your own reasons with us in the comments or over social media.