According to society’s rules, guys watch sports and girls hate them. No ifs, and’s, or butts about it. Girls just can’t play or enjoy sports like guys can. But apparently, society didn’t know girls like me existed when it made that rule.

I grew up in a neighborhood where there were more boys than girls around, so if I wanted to fit in, I had to do what the boys were doing. This included playing games like war, roller-skating, and of course, sports of any kind. I didn’t want to be left out so I was out there with them and never thought anything of it.

This changed at school, though. For some reason, it was like all the girls in my class except me were scared to even approach the boys on the playground. There were never any girls playing basketball or kickball at recess (that is, until I decided to play).

I started playing basketball in fourth grade for a team outside of school, and I really liked it. When I saw a few of the boys playing during recess one day, I asked if I could play. They were pretty shocked that I had even asked, but they let me play anyway and probably went pretty easy on me too. But soon that is what I did every day instead of trying to fit in with the other girls in my class, and it was definitely more fun!

Playing with those guys taught me to be a better player, but it got me interested in more things. They talked sports ALL the time, so to decipher their game lingo I began watching the things they would talk about. Basketball, football, and baseball all started becoming something I enjoyed watching and playing, and the guys seemed to appreciate that there was ACTUALLY a girl who knew what they were talking about.

And being the girl who interacted with the guys the most was an interesting thing to be known as too. We were at that age where, for some reason, the girls were scared to approach them for anything. Me, I just knew them as my best friends, so talking to them about anything just came easily.

Now when I started beating them, they were not so happy with me. It didn’t happen often, but I have to say there was more than one day on the playground or in PE class where I came out on top, and I liked it. That taught me confidence in myself, and I realized that just because I was a girl, that didn’t mean that sports were off-limits to me.

As I have gotten older, being the girl who can talk about sports has gotten some interesting reactions. Some think it’s fantastic that I’m not afraid to get out there and play when I can or that I can hold a conversation about the latest ACC basketball rankings. Others think it’s just weird that I would even pay attention to things like what college made it to the NCAA tournament, who won the world series, or what NFL team has the best record. But whatever anyone’s opinion is, it doesn’t really matter to me anymore.

There was a point in middle school where the girls wanted nothing to do with me because I played with the guys so much. It bothered me then because I wanted them to like me, but it was more important to me that I do something I liked instead of trying to make them like me. Now, I wear the label of sports fan proudly.

I learned a very long time ago that I would never be a “girly girl” and that’s okay. You will never find me at the mall on Saturday because I will be at home watching football during the fall, basketball during the winter, and baseball during the spring. I may not be your typical girl, but I am me, and society’s ideas can’t change me now.