Amy Donaldson: Allow women to compete and be who they are

Published: Sunday, Aug. 12 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

She is also a woman who has opinions, which, when asked, she shares. She's a proud Christian who told reporters she was a 30-year-old virgin and would remain so until marriage. But she also posed nude for ESPN's Body Issue and has graced the cover of a number of magazines, because she is stunningly beautiful.

She does have loads of endorsements, but as we know from decades of watching men's athleteics, it's up to private companies to decide who they want selling their products. Her decision to make money from her talent, whether it's judged to be a little or a lot, is no different from any of her male counterparts.

It is what athletes have to do to survive — especially track athletes. And the reality is there are far fewer opportunities for women to make money just playing sports than there are for men. Sponsorships are almost the only opportunity female athletes have to make a decent living.

Jones is simply doing what athletes do. She's working hard, competing her best and sometimes she wins (four times in the past year) and many times she loses.

I know it's asking a lot, but maybe we could take a look at what women do and not worry about their hair, their facial features or the little dance they do when they're feeling so much joy they can't contain it.

Remember when the U.S. women's soccer team won the 1999 World Cup on U.S. soil and Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off, fell to her knees and screamed with joy after kicking the game-winning goal? That caused a ridiculous brouhaha among commentators and writers, as well. What was she trying to say? Why would she do such a thing?

How about this theory: We women, like men, love to compete. We love to play hard, and sometimes we're overcome by a moment. It could be massive disappointment that causes us to act in a way that seems unfriendly. It could be uncontrollable joy that moves us to dance, scream and even swing an item of clothing around because we can't contain ourselves. It may seem un-lady like, even manly.

Let us be. Let us have our moments — good and bad. You don't have to buy the shoes we represent, and you don't have to agree with how we handle the extremes of international or professional athletic competition. But you should let us be who we are — beautiful, homely, fit, fat, fast, slow, sexy, inarticulate, disappointing and remarkable — without reminding us that we aren't what you want us to be.

Women are proving that they're physically capable of a lot of things some never thought possible. The rules of analysis need to evolve too. Women should be judged, and more importantly valued, in the same complex, multi-faceted way that male athletes are. They have earned at least that much on and off the field of play.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com twitter: adonsports

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