In praise of Elizabeth Lambert, role model
You may well have seen the above video ad nauseum — the one in which New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert elbows, kicks and hair-pulls her way around the field against Brigham Young while losing 1-0 Nov. 5 in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
After the round-the-clock tut-tutting and screams of “catfight!” it’s no surprise that New Mexico has indefinitely suspended the junior defender, an action the conference supported. Lambert apologized.
To which I say, apologize for what? For being aggressive? For showing girls how to be tough on the field? For not being sufficiently “ladylike” for a male sports establishment? For doing things that, if she were male, would have been mostly laughed off? Like, say, this Oct. 31 eye gouge by Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes, which got him suspended by his team for one measly half against its next opponent, the far weaker Vanderbilt? (Spikes later suspended himself for the full game.)
The above action is consider par for the course in football, where anything goes in a dogpile. So no harm, right? Spikes wasn’t a goon — he was tough!
My 10-year-old daughter has her first basketball game (with me coaching) today (Nov. 7), and I won’t say that I will plop her in front of the Lambert video and say, here’s how you do it. But I will say there’s nothing wrong with a girl mixing it up, playing hard, bumping people and other playing aggressively to the point other people are scared enough to get out of your way. (My 4-year-old daughter, it appears, so far does not need that encouragement.)
So Elizabeth Lambert, you might’ve gooned it up, and you might have had your tail forced between your legs for gooning it up. But also know you taught the world a lesson that girls can dish shit out — and that the world needn’t react in horror when they do. That is, as long as they don’t react in horror when a male athletes does the same thing.