Wednesday Dec 02nd, 2020
This past weekend, history was made by athlete Sarah Fuller. In a special moment for college football, she became the first woman ever to play in a competitive Power 5 conference game. Unfortunately, criticism & negativity towards Vanderbilt’s move has recently risen, as some attribute her accomplishment to luck and speak constantly about lack of skill. As a sports community, we would like to share our 2 cents on this topic.
Lakeshore Cricket sees this ball roll start from a great opportunity. Maybe even a lucky one. But what is an opportunity? We all know in sports there is luck, but more importantly we know luck does not strike the ones slouching on the couch. Any athlete, in order to be struck by luck, has to be in a position to grasp the opportunity.
The greatest athletes among us know that if they cannot be number one they have to do everything in their power to be #2. Not 3, not 4 but 2. Because when no.1 slacks, or can’t be there, it is #2 that benefits, hence giving themselves the chance to get the opportunity—creating a pathway for luck to strike. A runner who knows they might not catch the fastest player, for instance, will still make their best run if they’re a star athlete. They’ll be there, sweaty and ready to get hit when luck strikes. That only happens to the ones that make the run, the ones who don’t look at the odds but look to stretch their abilities instead.
Best put in Samuel Goldwyn’s words, “ the harder I work, the luckier I get”.
This is exactly why we celebrate Sarah Fuller. She might not be the first pick on a men’s team. She probably is no better than the best male on that team, but she worked hard. Hard enough to be as good as the last person to be picked; hard enough to be the most unlikely AND yet most qualified female candidate to take the opportunity when it presented itself. So yes, even if she is as good as the last pick on the team (even a benchwarmer), she deserves to be on the team just as much.
We can take notes from some of cricket’s stars, such as Brian Lara, when it comes to treating female athletes as equals. 26 years ago Australian cricketer Zoe Goss in December 1994 was presented an amazing opportunity in a similar situation. For Bradman XI v World XI exhibition game, Rugby player Paul Vautin could not participate due to an illness and Goss was called to take his place. Just like Fuller, Goss was called as a last minute replacement. Unlike Sarah Fuller though, Zoe Goss was called up for a friendly charity game, but we can tell the level of cricket was high when the likes of Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar and Michael Holding are signed up for the fundraiser and Zoe Goss gets the chance to ball against none other than Brian Lara. Given the opportunity to take centre stage she surprised everyone with her skillset. In his prime Lara after being frustrated by the first 2 balls was dismissed by Goss on her 3rd. Something many did not expect from a female athlete.
Right before the match Zoe was denied entry through the players gate at the SCG by the security guard and now she was being celebrated and recognised everywhere. Similarly, we will see time and time again female athletes be denied entries, met by skeptical gazes until they keep pushing and eventually turn their participation and acceptance into inspiration and eventually the norm. This is the step Sarah took.
The critical eye calling it publicity will possibly continue to undermine her accomplishment in many ways, but the truth remains that Fuller has given herself the chance to be lucky. She has made history by breaking the glass ceiling and in that process inspired us all to continue breaking down gender barriers in sports. At Lakeshore we acknowledge, encourage, support and even look forward to creating opportunities for strong female athletes. So congratulations to Sarah Fuller and other females who continue to work towards this change.
Post by Nida Zaidi
Advisory Board Member - Lakeshore Cricket