Why Adult Kickball Leagues Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes

Some time has passed since my season as an adult kickball player has come to a close and I’ve had a week to reflect on my experiences.

Kickball, a game that is supposed to be fun and played amongst school age children has become a phenomenon of sorts for the 20-something crowd who pine for the nostalgia of their own childhood.

I decided to join a team in a league with some friends to see what the hype was about and to stay active, if even once a week (there are only so many hours a day one can binge watch tv).

I had zero expectations going in to the season and I was only hoping to have some fun, be goofy and enjoy my time.

Little did I know that the random strangers who were on my team with my friends and I took this game way too seriously.

We are all grown adults with big boy and big girl jobs that we clock in and out of each and every day, yet the idea of kicking a ball and winning turned them back in to the school yard children they once were.

I realized in that first game, when a teammate and team captain who had placed me in right field (because he took one look and me and assumed I had no athletic skill without any prior conversation) screamed across the field asking if “I was awake out there.”

It was in that moment that I was brought back to my childhood when I first experienced being teased for lack of athletic prowess or skill.

It was in that moment that I once again felt my manhood had been called in to question, being treated as if I was like one of the many girls on the team who they also assumed had no physical skill on the field.

I flash backed to those times in the school yard when I chose to sit out from playing with the other boys who played the recreational games at recess because I didn’t want to be shamed or made to feel lesser as a male because I was not as athletically inclined as they were.

My interest and desire to “be the best” in sports never existed.

It was meant to be fun, to be spectated on, and because of my views I often times found myself on the outs with those who I shared the same genetic makeup as.

My frame, my build and my stature have always indicated to others merely from my perception alone at first that I am not to be taken seriously, that I am not into sports and that I am just a joke.

As the years have gone by I have more than come to terms with not being the sporting type but that little bit of insecurity always existed, even if it was so far buried.

The five weeks I played on the kickball team I was subjected to those same insecurities I had as a young boy, a teenage male, and an adult male by the other males on the team who didn’t value me as an equal because I had not played kickball bi-weekly since the incarnation of these adult leagues.

I was told to “bunt like the girls” because they thought I couldn’t kick.

Week by week I attempted to try to prove them wrong.

There were weeks where it just wasn’t my week and I was okay with that but it was those five weeks when I realized how idiotic the whole thing was.

I was letting people who take kickball seriously get under my skin when I realized that it was so minute and unimportant in the grander scheme of life.

The idea of what a man is has changed drastically over the years and it’s because of these new roles and non-conforming ideas of what “men” and “women” are that I felt okay that I wasn’t an athletic specimen.

It’s okay to not be physically inclined to kick a ball far out in the outfield that won’t be a pop up fly.

It is because of my experience on this Co-Ed adult kickball league that made me think about my future children and who they will become.

No longer does gender conforming roles guide how children are raised and no longer are stereotypes acceptable.

Our value as a person should not be based on how much or how less we equal up to our gender identity.

Next time you think about putting someone down because they’re not performing by what society’s standards expect of them because of their gender, remember that they have insecurities just like you and that their interests vary from yours and they should be respected.

There is a fine line between a joke and an insult.

Think before you speak and before you pass judgement on those who you don’t know.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: James/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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About the Author
Howard Rudnick is an eccentric individual whose goal is to have his voice and stories heard by everyone. Faking it until he makes it, Howard gets a paycheck in the "real world" because writing isn't paying the bills. His sardonic views on world events and life often times get a great LOL response.

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