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Why are there no 'Lady Ravens'?

I wrote a pretty softball column last time, so this time, I'm giving you all some CONTROVERSY (maybe).

I think it's time to talk about women in sports. More specifically, professional sports. More specifically, Ravens football.

I know we have a full-time sports editor and writer, so hopefully Randy McRoberts and Dewey Fox will indulge me on this one.

You have probably noticed that certain professional sports, namely football, are big news.

Many Aegis readers are dedicated Ravens fans, although many are also Steelers fans. Lately, the purple Ravens symbol has been spray-painted all over Harford County and signs of support for the football team are everywhere.

Steelers fans have occasionally displayed their Terrible Towels or black-and-gold items as well. In the spring, Orioles usually get some local attention, too, with orange-and-black flags all over the place.

But what do all these teams have in common? They only have men on them. Obviously this isn't a shock to anyone. Groups like the NFL and MLB are for men-only teams.

Some leagues, of course, are for female athletes. The most popular one has probably been the WNBA. On a local level, there was also, until recently, the LPGA playing at Bulle Rock.

Women clearly can play more aggressive, physical sports, as judged by female boxers, rugby players or roller-derby teams.

But you don't exactly see female boxing competitions splashed across The Baltimore Sun's home page or inflatable dolls of a woman baseball player on someone's lawn.

That means at least a couple million people — men, women, children, maybe even pets, in their purple bandannas — are highly focused on, and hysterically excited about, a sport being played exclusively by men.

How many other spheres in modern life can you say that about? I would say almost none.

It is now absolutely common to see women soldiers or sailors. Many religious denominations have female clergy or other leaders. There are women in Congress, women doing industrial or construction jobs and, yes, even women in the media (haha).

There are also women all over the Olympics, high school and college sports - basically everywhere an athlete is not getting paid millions of dollars to play.

But women playing professional football or baseball is apparently not something very many people are interested in.

I was thinking about this point more while observing the Ravens coverage of recent weeks.

Last Thursday, the captain of the Ravens cheerleading squad, "Angel" from Bel Air, got a lot of interest when it was announced she is headed to the Pro Bowl.

The story got a lot of interest from me because I noticed it was one of the few times that a story about the Ravens was about a woman.

Now, I am not one of those people who doesn't consider cheerleading a sport. I think cheerleading is very serious and rigorous, and the women (and men) in it are real athletes.

But let's be honest: most people are not scanning the photos of "Angel," in a low-cut crop top and full-on make-up, because of her athletic ability.

I totally support "Angel's" achievements and I realize it's a big deal for her to go to the Pro Bowl. Plus, professional cheerleaders make nowhere near the money that the actual players do.

I am also not criticizing her because - let's be honest again - there is plenty of sex in sports.

But my point is, men can be sex symbols while actually playing football (or soccer), while women can only be on the sidelines, as a skimpily-clad cheerleader or the (invariably hot) wife of a professional athlete.

It's one of the only high-profile places left in our society where everyone cheers on a group in which women don't participate.

If women are capable of going into war, obviously they are capable of playing high-level sports. So why don't they? Or, more importantly: why doesn't anyone want to watch them?

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