Julia Friedman played competitive basketball all her life.
In sophomore year an autoimmune condition sidelined her. But she stayed involved, helping the Staples girls team.
She’d run cross country as a freshman and sophomore. She kept on with that squad too, as manager.
She referees youth basketball, and volunteers with PAL.
So when Julia — a staff writer for Inklings, the school newspaper — searched for a “Jock Talk” opinion piece subject for the October issue, women’s sports seemed a natural.
Her piece was powerful. As she expected, it generated plenty of controversy.
Yet despite its headline — “The Athletically Oppressed” — Julia’s column did not argue that female athletes are downtrodden and subjugated.
Her thesis was that there should be no separate “women’s sports.”
No other career is separated by gender, she wrote.
Making females compete on their own teams, in their own leagues, makes them seem less important — and leads to lower attendance and revenue, she said.
She gave examples of women athletes who have competed successfully with men — from Billie Jean King to basketball players Ann Meyers and Lusia Harris to race car driver Danika Patrick.
If women’s rights activitis really want equality, Julia argued, why don’t they compete with men on the same playing field?
Some friends like what she wrote. Others did not.
Most adults thought it was well-written, she said, but did not agree.
“I think a lot of people thought I was right,” she added. “But they didn’t want to say it. It’s not politically correct.”
Thanks to Inklings’ robust web presence, Julia’s column attracted attention far beyond Staples.
People of all ages — far and wide — chimed in on the site’s comments section. Someone told her that while everyone is entitled to her opinion, it was unfortunate Julia voiced hers.
Plenty of people called her “sexist.” She expected that.
A woman posted several comments, including one that was longer than the column. That proved, Julia said, that “people are really passionate about women’s sports. I respect their opinion, and I hope they respect mine.”
Ann Gaffigan, who runs WomenTalkSports.com, asked Julia to come on her radio show. She’ll do that, after she does some research. “I don’t want to get ripped apart,” she said with the wisdom of a media veteran.
At the same time she’s dealing with the reaction to “The Athletically Oppressed,” Julia is planning her next column.
“I’m thinking something about women in society,” she said.
“It may not be sports. But I find the social relationships between genders very interesting.”