Sports are a reflection of society, at least when it comes to gender roles. It may seem that there are no gender issues in the world of sports. However, many events and personalities show that equality in sports does not exist. One of the clearest examples of the issues as it existed in the 1970s was the so-called “Battle of the Sexes” (as qtd. in Nicholson). The article “Billie Jean King: ‘Be Ahead of Your Time – That’s What You Have to Do’”written by Rebecca Nicholson deals with her match against Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King’s other achievements. Billie Jean King is one of the most famous feminist athletes and showed that the world of sports was unfair. So, how did King change the world of sports, and is it that different now?
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Billie Jean King was a champion in female tennis in the 1970s. She was one of the best players at that time. She was also a passionate feminist who was never afraid of telling the truth about society and sports (Nicholson). Of course she was unhappy when male athletes talked about female athletes disrespectfully. She was also very upset about Bobby Riggs’s words concerning female tennis players. Riggs was one of the best tennis players on the planet in the 1970s (Ward).
The article “4 Decades After Billie Jean King’s Triumph, Women Still Fight for Equal Billing in Sports” (www.thenewsminute.com/article/4-decades-after-billie-jean-king-s-triumph-women-still-fight-equal-billing-sports-71848) written by Jo Ward deals with the famous match and the most interesting details related to it. Riggs stressed that female athletes were not as good as males, so they naturally received lower salaries. He also mentioned that he would easily win if he had a tennis match with King, the best female tennis player.
The historic tennis match took place in 1973. The male tennis player appeared with his female fans. Riggs was sure he would win easily and quickly. King appeared in the role of a queen, with several men carrying her. Of course, everybody understood that it was a show, but these images of the players showed some characteristic features of the world of sports. Males were seen as strong winners who had many fans, and female athletes were regarded as ladies supported by men.
Simply put, it was clear that female sports were not even regarded as something real. However, the score made everyone understand what female athletes can do. King easily won with a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 (Ward). Rigg’s defeat was epic, as he had been so confident but lost with such a humiliating score. A female beat a male in tennis. Everybody now understood that a woman could be better than a man in a particular area.
In addition to the primary victory over males’ ideas of their strength and worth, King also showed that female athletes should receive similar amounts of money for their achievements. Before the famous tennis match, it was seen as a norm that women in sports received less money. The prize given to King after the historic match was $100,000 (Nicholson). There were many rumors about the prize and her victory, but everybody agreed that a match with two female opponents would never have earned the victor such an amount. Of course, female athletes did not start receiving such huge sums of money immediately after the match.
However, people began discussing the problem, and progress became possible. It was clear that female athletes were as strong and skillful as males. The battle of sexes can be regarded as the start of a new era in sports. King also stressed that women could learn a lot from the world of sports, as it is a reflection of American society. The famous feminist stated that the culture had been created by men, and sports could help women understand some secrets and laws of the man’s world.
Things did not change at once, as there are still many problems. In many cases, women still get less money than male athletes. Some kinds of sports are still regarded as male sports. However, such personalities as King (and many other brave and capable women) were able to bring about many changes. King was a feminist and activist who did a lot to make the world better. First, she inspired many women and helped them believe that they could also achieve great success.
She showed the world that women were equal and even stronger than men in some respects. Finally, she established a charity that focused on equality in the workplace (Nicholson). This tennis player is still trying to make men and women understand that they are equal. This famous feminist and tennis player managed to change the world of sports.
In conclusion, it is clear that King contributed greatly to the development of the world of sports. This famous female athlete made people discuss many issues, which resulted in many important changes. Of course, many things remain to be done as the world of sports is still unfair. Women still get less money. Female sports receive less attention. Female leagues are even regarded as less professional than male leagues. However, King and other feminists show that changes are possible and necessary. Perhaps someday people will not divide sports into male or female categories. Such opinions could be seen as proof of true equality. Games in which males and females can compete or play on one team could become the normal practice in the future.
Nicholson, Rebecca. “Billie Jean King: ‘Be Ahead of Your Time – That’s What You Have to Do’.” The Guardian. 2017. Web.
Ward, Jo. “4 Decades After Billie Jean King’s Triumph, Women Still Fight for Equal Billing in Sports.” The News Minute. 2017. Web.