For decades women have been trying to carve out a small place for themselves in the professional sports world. Putting in countless hours training and practicing then working on the sidelines as commentators, models, spokeswomen, etc. just to stay relevant and gain any notoriety.
This week, the always-progressive San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach ever. Hammon is a six-time WNBA All-Star, who brings an incredible work ethic and a great insight into the game. What is most notable about this announcement though is the focus on her work ethic, skills, and successes as the new hire. Sure, every headline, including this one, focuses on her gender, but her gender is not the reason she was hired.
When Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an exhibition game in the NHL back in 92' most of the media coverage was focused on it being a 'sideshow' or a publicity stunt. No one is saying that here -- and that is an incredible step in the right direction.
Historically society has not provided the same hegemonic support for female athletes as they do male. But with more and more Becky Hammon's being recognized everyday (Danica Patrick, Christine Sinclaire, Maria Sharapova, Hailey Wickenheiser, etc.) just maybe we can start to focus on the athlete and their skill-set and not their gender.