The creation of the Facebook group “OXY PICK UP” has made pickup sports more popular and more accessible to both students and faculty in recent years, but male turnout still significantly trumps female participation. Of the 136 members of the group currently, only six are female.
The Facebook group provides a platform for students to rally players beyond their immediate groups of friends with ease. The group has managed to marshal a diverse group of athletes of varying ages and levels of experience, but not of various genders.
Men’s varsity basketball player and OXY PICK UP administrator Erik Eichinger (junior) encourages female athletes to join in on behalf of the larger community.
“Girls’ participation playing pick up has gone dramatically down since I got here two years ago,” Eichinger said. “Which is unfortunate, because everyone including myself enjoys when we have a diversity of people, grades [age wise] and staff playing. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people in a casual, fun setting.”
Varsity basketball player Stefanie Young (senior) has played soccer and basketball informally with both men and women at Occidental. She attributes the poor female turnout to male exclusivity, arguing that men often underestimate women’s athletic capabilities.
“I think that [male players] should be more inclusive of others,” Young said. “But I also feel that the individual needs to recognize whether they can keep up with the group they want to play pickup with.”
Young believes confidence is crucial for women who want to join the male-dominated games.
Ashley Andreou (sophomore) agrees that women must approach pickup with men with confidence, and feels that a lack of athletic confidence in general is why more women do not play sports, even with other women.
Andreou briefly played varsity basketball her first year at Occidental but decided to quit to make time for her academics. She still tries to play pickup whenever she can with whomever is available––which is almost always men. The women with whom she does play on occasion are generally varsity athletes.
“Girls view sports as something really formal, really organized,” Andreou said. “Guys view it as super casual. There are so many other things girls think about, whereas guys are just like, ‘Ok let’s play!’ No one cares if you’re good or not. You’ll just laugh it off. You’re just out to get running and be with your friends.”
Andreou finds it a shame that more women do not play sports casually, for fun. She believes increasing female turnout will require breaking the stigma against women participating in athletics.
“Pick up sports for guys is a way to connect,” Andreou said. “It’s such a unifying, competitive thing. It’s such a good way to get out stress and aggression from academics, which are always really high.”