In the summer of 1997, a few years before our daughter was born, my husband David and I went with some friends to the game that launched the Women’s National Basketball Association. The Los Angeles Sparks were playing the New York Liberty at the Great Western Forum, the arena where the legendary Lakers played. We got our popcorn and gooey nachos. We found our seats. We laughed and talked while the players warmed up. Then we all stood for the national anthem.
As the first notes played, I started crying.
My tears took me by surprise. I watched the players with their eyes on the flag and their hands on their hearts. I took in the packed stadium and the TV cameras. I realized that if I ever had a daughter, she would never know a world where girls couldn’t play basketball.
The tears ran down my cheeks and wouldn’t stop.
As a young girl, at first I challenged the way things were simply because I wanted to play ball. If the girls didn’t get the good gym, then I’ll play with the boys. If the varsity boys team gets a band and concession stand at the games, then I wanted our team to get them too. I blew whistles and cried foul on some adults. I threw some elbows at the system to get what I wanted. Along the way, what began as a personal issue transformed into something more.
The people and the system reacted to what I was saying and doing. Nothing I tried was a slam dunk. Some people pushed back, “Girls shouldn’t play.” I rebounded from that by getting better and better at articulating to myself and to other people what I wanted and what I believed was fair. Sometimes I got an encouraging slap on the back from my parents and teachers for taking action when I felt something was unfair. I came to think of myself as someone who stands up for what I believe. As someone who could do something to make things better. I was contributing to a larger paradigm shift and experiencing one myself. All simply because I wanted to play basketball. Without those interactions, I would not be who I am today.
When you set out to remodel the world, you change yourself too. When you want to remodel your own life, do your part to change the world.
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