Oh you play softball? You must be a lesbian.

The sport you play should not indicate anything about your sexuality or your physical appearance. Unfortunately, the stereotypes that are associated with softball “prove” otherwise. The stereotypes most commonly associated with softball is being a lesbian or being big or manly and strong.

Having played softball nearly my entire life I am pretty familiar with these stereotypes associated with the sport. However, I chose to also ask my teammates, as well as other friends who are not associated with the sport, what they believed the stereotype to be. The answers were the same across the board. In fact, one teammate summarized it perfectly, “We’re all just big fat dykes.”

Regarding the physical appearance of a “typical” softball player, the assumption that all softball players are large in part is due to the players that the media use to highlight the sport. One of the most well known softball players, Jennie Finch, stands at 6’1″ and is all muscle, in fact she states that she lifts weights for 90 minutes every day(“Welcome”).  As someone who has met her in person, her size is definitely intimidating. Another example of a softball player who gets the spotlight is Crystl Bustos also known as “The Big Bruiser”. Bustos is 5’8″ and weighs over 200 lbs (“Crystl Bustos Bio”). Due to her size and her outstanding abilities, she is considered, “one of the most feared hitters in the world(“Crystl Bustos Bio”). Although I’ve only mentioned two famous softball players, the fact that the majority of softball players seen in the media are big largely contributes to the connotation that softball players are big girls.

Stereotypically softball players are categorized as lesbians. Although I am unaware of where this stereotype arose, and I don’t believe there is any evidence as to why it exists, it is a widely accepted claim. As I stated earlier, every person I asked about how they would stereotype softball mentioned something about homosexuality.

Obviously there are exceptions to these stereotypes. Not every softball player is a lesbian and you don’t have to be big to play softball. In fact, the average height of the softball team here at UCSD is 5’4″, not what many would consider big. While I have played with women who are lesbians I would say that an overwhelming majority of softball players I know are straight. This being said I believe that it’s safe to say that stereotypes aren’t always accurate. Softball players are women of all shapes and sizes and being a softball player does not determine your sexuality.

I am an example of another exception to the softball stereotype. I am 5’3″ and about 130 pounds. A lot of times when someone finds out that I play softball they are surprised by my size. They associate softball players with a woman who is built with a bigger body type. I am also straight. Throughout my career I have both experienced and seen teasing in regards to homosexuality. I have also heard people refer to softball as “dykeball” or “dykes on spikes” which at times can be frustrating because often times people who make these claims have little knowledge about the sport or those who play.

Works Cited
“Crystl Bustos Bio.” 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. NBC, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <http://www.2008.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=116/bio/index.html&gt;.
“Welcome.” Welcome. Jennie Finch, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014. <http://www.jenniefinch.com/biography&gt;.
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One Response to Oh you play softball? You must be a lesbian.

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I like your examples of how the media focuses on the larger framed athletes of the sport. I’m curious to hear more about your analysis as to why this is. Is it simply because they are the best players out there? Could it also be because they fit popular ideas of what a softball player looks like? How do expectations and media representations relate to one another is a good question to explore here? This can also relate to questions of sexuality. Do we “see” lesbianism in softball because we expect to? Also consider the politics of privilege and oppression around this. We hardly ever talk about the assumptions of heterosexuality in other sports (such as cheer leading), and it is worth thinking about why this is.

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