When Sports Turn Sexist: The Harvard Soccer Edition


By Werner100359 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7747644
By Werner100359 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikicommons. Featured image source: By  “author unknown” (1644)Josiah Quincy (1843)Pierre la Rose (1895) – The logo may be obtained from Harvard University., Public Domain, Wikicommons

Yesterday, a scandal rocked the campus of Harvard University. According to the New York Times and other major news outlets, the President of Harvard ended the season of the entire male soccer team when their “scouting report” was discovered. This scouting report was a public and searchable document that ranked the Harvard women’s soccer team by physicality, preferred sexual positions, and overall attractiveness. If this doesn’t bring back bad memories of the recent “locker room talk” heard all over America from a Presidential Candidate, I don’t know what will. This actually was locker room talk, just published on the internet. And both must stop. 

To hear that a sports team from one of the most prestigious universities in the world would ever publish a list that is based in pure sexism and misogyny should be startling to all of us. According to Google statistics, the Harvard acceptance rate for this year was 5.2%. And in that 5.2% were student athletes who would go on to play on a ranked soccer team and rank their female team counterparts. This is even scarier: according to the Los Angeles Times, this tradition actually began in 2012. There have been four years of ranking, commenting, and listing. It seems that this “scouting report” was beginning to be a tradition.

Harvard smartly cancelled the rest of the male team’s season. The women’s team promptly spoke out about the list. But what does this mean for the rest of us living outside of the bubble of Harvard’s campus? What does this show us about sexism in our country and our world? What will we think when the scandal passes months down the road, and the world moves on to other news?

It means one thing: we must fight sexism.

 It does not matter how many members of that team created that document and actually participated in it. It should only matter that someone did, and that someone, whether it be one person, five people, or the whole team–thought it was okay to be blatantly be sexist and inappropriate towards women. If the women’s soccer team had done the same, it would be just as bad. This is not an argument about which gender can or can’t be more sexist.  Both can. This is an argument against sexism across the board. 

If that was your daughter, sister, son, brother, friend being ranked in such a way, what would you think? If that was your daughter, sister, son, brother, or friend doing the ranking, what would you think? We are all human beings. We all deserve love from each other, and if not love, then respect. Our bodies and our minds deserve respect. It is wrong of us as human beings to think that we are above another person on this earth because of our background, race, status, or gender.

I can write up a storm about this topic for hours. But it all boils down to one question in the end: What can we do about it? 

Be the person in that locker room or school hallway or office  who says “No.” Be the person who says “This is wrong.” Be the person who has accepted that there is sexism in today’s society. Just noticing it is a huge step towards working for a change. If we never can acknowledge it, if we can never hold our society responsible for it, than when will change come about? We have to teach our children, siblings, friends, and even strangers what sexism is and why it has to stop. We have to hold each other to a standard of love and respect, because if we don’t, who will? Be kind, be respectful, and be sincere. Speak out and help your generation stop sexism. Be the person who influences that boy or girl who will one day walk into that locker room and say, “This has to stop.” You can even be that person yourself.



Mary Claire is a 17 year old student and writer who loves politics, campfire smores, traveling, classic movies, and new music.

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