Leveling the Playing Field: The Softball Team on Athletic Inequality

5 min read

Ashley McDermott ’26

Sports Editor

The athletic program at Trinity is home to some of the best of Division III sports teams for both men and women. By providing them with quality facilities, a strong fan base and meticulous training, the teams are given consistent support. While the men and women on sports teams are offered with valuable opportunities and guidance, we must revisit the reality that inequality still exists for women’s athletics. 

To better understand these athletes’ experiences, Trinity’s softball team responded to a survey created by the Tripod. The survey contained five statements that were answered by the athletes based on how much they agreed with them. The Tripod also asked the players to reflect on their experiences on campus as female athletes through short answers, allowing them to fully express their opinions on equality in the programs. 

When asked if the negative stereotypes surrounding female athletics are actively affecting students on campus, the majority of softball players agreed. While a third of responders somewhat disagreed with this, the 66% that agree speaks for itself. 

The players shared some of the stereotypes that have affected female athletics. One common theme throughout their experiences is that sport spectators choose to miss women’s games because they are not entertaining, especially in comparison to their male counterpart teams. The players felt that while the men’s games attract fans, these same fans will not attend the women’s games. They also expressed that people assume that female players are playing an “easier” version of the sport that a men’s team would be praised for playing. The players noted that regardless of their excellence on the field, softball would always be seen as inferior. The girls were also concerned that members of the community found softball “weird,” once again pushing spectators to watch the baseball team instead. 

Some members of the softball team agreed that they have felt affected by judgements on their athletic ability within the past three months. Based on this result, two thirds (66%) of the softball players agree that there is still work that needs to be done within Trinity Athletics. 

Not all of the results highlighted flaws within the athletic program. The players were asked if they felt that the Trinity athletic program gives equal opportunity to both men’s and women’s teams. The results were evenly divided three ways, 33% feeling indifferent or unsure, 33% somewhat agreeing and the final 33% completely agreeing. 

Another positive result came from a majority of the responders agreeing with the statement that ‘collegiate athletics offer a healthier dynamic in regard to gender inclusion.’ The other voters were indifferent. Seeing that the program has a baseline environment of support is a good place to start in this discussion, but it is clear that there is still progress to be made. 

The softball players agreed that some improvements have helped to fight against the previously stated inequalities. The team was given turf to play on, along with a complete revamping of the softball field to match the baseball team’s field. One response recounts the positive enforcement within the weight room amongst the female athletes. This respondent points out that while the male athletes typically move up in weight and progress faster, the women training are more aware of each other’s growth. So regardless of what team they’re a part of, the women in the weight room often celebrate each other. She described it as a “full support system behind you, cheering you on.” 

The program as a whole continuously prioritizes equality and recognition for all teams on campus. Female athletes and male athletes both excel whether on the field, court, ice or hardwood. Regardless of their respective success, these teams support one another day in and day out. Athletes are already encouraged to attend one another’s games, specifically when each sport holds an All-In game, where all members of each team come together to support one another. 

The team offered suggestions on changes that could be made to create a more inclusionary environment in the athletic program. One respondent proposed using the lights on the softball field more often so they could practice and host games later. Without regular use of the lights, the girls have a limited time frame to work on their skills. Next, they asked that all sports have the ability to play their music as loud as certain men’s teams. Giving the team a better sound system creates a lively environment at their games, heightening the energy and attracting spectators. Finally, the respondents stated that they want more advocacy for all female teams. This accounts for coverage, a bigger media presence and initiating more conversations on the successes of women’s athletics. This feedback applies directly to the Tripod’s mission of presenting the best of Trinity, and probing difficult topics that lend voice to members of our community. Promoting our teams and ensuring that we highlight Trinity women’s athletics serves to connect us. By providing members on campus with updates on awards and game times, we encourage Tripod readers to attend these games to cheer on the athletes. Women’s athletics are a valuable piece of the Trinity community. Supporting these teams and recognizing their success is the first step in moving towards an equal and just environment. By listening to these talented players and continuing to cheer them on, members of campus help in fostering equality in the athletic program.     

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