Whitman Wire

Who’s Got Next: Women in Pickup

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Eve Goldman playing at a recent pickup basketball game

Eve Goldman playing at a recent pickup basketball game

Carson Jones

Carson Jones

Eve Goldman playing at a recent pickup basketball game

Emily Solomon, Staff Reporter

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Sports are one of the most popular activities on Whitman’s campus. From varsity games to club sports and intramurals, students don’t take athletics lightly. With both the women’s and men’s varsity basketball teams leading the Northwest Conference as the school to beat this season, the sport is becoming more popular among non-varsity athletes. Pickup basketball is an activity that many Whitman students take part in every night in Sherwood’s Multipurpose gym, and this year is the first time women have come to play.

While intercollegiate athletics began primarily as an activity that only men participated in, women have broken the glass ceiling and started making a place for themselves. Sports culture, especially on Whitman’s campus, is less dominated by men than that of many other schools and varsity teams. In previous years, if you had walked into Sherwood Center to join a pickup game you would have been playing with all guys. However, this year two women, seniors Eve Goldman and KC Cook, have been familiar faces who always come to play.

Carson Jones
Eve Goldman playing at a recent pickup basketball game

“It is always an adjustment coming into a new group of guy players, and it can be really intimidating,” Goldman explained. “It feels as though I come in with a chip on my shoulder, and until I can prove that I deserve to be there, getting the ball is infrequent.”

KC Cook had similar thoughts, commenting “It’s definitely frustrating at times to be a woman playing in a male-dominated environment because like in many other areas, we have to constantly prove ourselves. What we find very frustrating is most boys won’t pass to us until we demonstrate that we can actually hang, if not beat them at ‘their’ game. It’s funny because we both played at the collegiate level and yet have to always prove ourselves.”

Many women expect the court to be a male-dominated space most of the time, and can agree with Goldman that it is intimidating to be outnumbered. In some people’s eyes, women’s basketball is less interesting to watch because women “can’t dunk” or “can’t run as fast,” while flashy dimes (assists) and lock-down defense are easily overlooked.

“The majority of guys that play respect me as a basketball player regardless of gender,” Goldman said. “But there are some who don’t, and it can be frustrating especially when I have spent years and years working on my game when some of the guys are just faster and stronger.”

This is a common feeling among women in sports, especially since people like to compare women’s sports to men’s sports. Men are taller, faster, stronger, but better? No. More talented? Not necessarily. While men can often outrun or out-jump their female counterparts, those qualities cannot take the place of basketball skills. It comes down to trying not to compare men to women in the game, but rather respecting each for what they bring to the table. And in Eve and KC’s case, that is a lot. So why don’t more women at Whitman play pickup basketball?

“It’s super fun having women play during pickup. They make the games more competitive,” first-year Eric Wasserman said. “I think more women might not play because the network right now to play pickup is a lot of men.”

“I think the issue is that there are more guys who play casual basketball, whereas girls either play for a team, played for a team, or don’t play at all. I also think that it is very intimidating to come into a male-dominated space to play for girls,” Goldman said. KC and Eve both spent time on Whitman’s varsity team in their underclassman years, and are familiar with the grit and determination that comes with improving their game. Hopefully as time moves ahead, more and more women will follow KC and Eve’s path, and join the guys for a game.

Carson Jones

Eve Goldman playing at a recent pickup basketball game

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Who’s Got Next: Women in Pickup