Breaking the Grass Ceiling: More Women Are Playing College Baseball Than Ever Before

A female baseball player wearing a grey and light blue uniform prepares to hit a ball.

The US has a woman vice president, and there are now women referees on NBA courts and in the broadcast booths. Have women fully broken the glass ceiling? Not quite. In this June 2021 Sports Illustrated report, sports journalist Michael Rosen addresses the “grass ceiling” encountered by women baseball players, specifically, women on collegiate baseball teams.

Read it here.


1. In addition to the issue of women playing alongside men on intercollegiate baseball teams, Rosen’s article takes up the question of whether those teams should be gender-inclusive—that is, admitting players of any gender solely on the basis of their skills—or gender-separate—that is, have one baseball team only for women and another team only for men. How fairly does Rosen treat the opposing sides of that debate? Why do you think so? Point to examples from the article to support your conclusion.

2. Rosen interviewed and quoted all six women on this year’s collegiate baseball teams. He didn’t interview or quote any of their coaches or teammates. Why might Rosen have chosen that rhetorical strategy? In what ways might his article have been different if he had included, for example, the views of coaches? 

3. LET’S TALK. You may or may not care much about baseball or who gets to play it, but every one of us, regardless of our gender identity, is affected in ways large and small by gender-based rules and limitations, and not just in sports. What is your opinion of women playing collegiate or professional baseball? Should there be restrictions about the level or rank of team they could play for (Division III but not I, for example)? Should they be restricted to certain positions? What other factors might be important to consider? Think about these questions and then discuss your responses with several classmates. Be sure to identify what kind of stakeholder you are (player, potential player, avid fan, indifferent to sports, etc.) Bear in mind that this is an opportunity to hear different points of view and that the goal is understanding, not competition. 

4. AND NOW WRITE. When women play collegiate baseball in greater numbers, should schools establish women’s teams with equivalent accommodations and resources as the men’s teams or should all qualified baseball players regardless of gender play on one single team? Write an essay that argues for your position, taking into consideration gender equity, gender relations, space and budgetary concerns, and any other issue that you think is relevant. Cite Rosen and/or his interviewees to support your argument.

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