The power of authenticity and inclusivity in sports ft. Mel Reid
Play • 21 min

In the world of golf, Mel Reid is a decorated player, with six Ladies’ European Tour wins and a recent Shoprite LPGA Classic win under her belt. But, she’s in the game for more than just trophies and accolades. In this candid conversation, listen as Reid talks about her journey and struggles as a player, the importance of being yourself, and the role technology is having in shaping emerging talent, her efforts to make athletics a more welcoming place for all, and more.

 

Key Takeaways:

[1:37] Women have been breaking barriers in sports before they were even allowed to participate in them. We still have a long way to go, since less than 1% of media coverage is dedicated to women. One of those barrier breaking athletes is golfer Mel Reid, who believes passionately that the more the media covers the amazing things that women and non binary people are doing, the more it will inspire future generations of fans and athletes.

[4:13] The NCAA is shifting to cover more of women’s sports, but Mel speaks about the need for the media to dig in and commit themselves to more equality and inclusivity. Golf was reinstated as an Olympic sport for the 2016 games, more than 100 years since it was last included. This is great news for the game and for women’s sports, but there are still those that aren’t thrilled.

[6:40] Athletes are real people with real hardships too. Mel talks about the challenging time when she returned to golf but was still grieving the death of her mother. We judge athletes on their performance, but we don’t always see the hard work or emotion behind the scenes.

[8:05] Mel made her partner publicly known because she was proud to showcase who she was, and who she loves.

[9:25] Golf has been historically very exclusionary, where even pros like Mel can be made to feel unwelcome at golf clubs. We need big changes to open up golf clubs for everyone, but also smaller changes like educating staff to make sure they know everyone should be welcomed from the moment they step through the door.

[11:15] Are the golf clubs really doing the work they need to become more inclusive? At one famous club, Muirfield Golf, they voted to keep the club men only in 2016, but then opened it back up to women in 2017.

[12:56] Existing and emerging technology lets players track their swing and ball speed with more precision than ever before. Mel notes the upside of being able to use this technology, but also expresses concern that the younger generation will hopefully be more well rounded and not have golf as the only facet of their life.

[15:12] Ultimately, Pride just means inclusion. Mel is a true believer that we are all human beings at the end of the day, and Pride month is a fantastic month to celebrate inclusion.

[16:12] Members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially athletes, have so many situations where they have to come out again and again. It is a constant sharing of their authentic self, a constant telling of a story. The most important tool they need is the ability to be comfortable with themselves, and to hope the world accepts them for who they really are.

[17:18] Allies of the LGBTQ+ community can give the biggest gift by just being comfortable with those around them, and support them by treating them with dignity, kindness, and respect.

[19:34] Mel hopes that young athletes and fans see how she is comfortable with how she shows up in the world as both an athlete and a human, and think to themselves, “if Mel can do it, I can do it.”

[20:13] Those in the LGBTQ+ community deserve to have it all, and that includes Mel and her community of athletes. If they want to have a work and family life, that is their right as well.

 

Quotes:

  • “Women have been breaking barriers across sports histories since before they were allowed into the game.” - Jo [1:37]
  • “Just because you are an athlete and a woman, doesn’t mean you can’t do the things that women do as well.” - Mel [3:25]
  • “We have to get that respect from the media in order to grow.” - Mel [4:19]
  • “I think it’s our responsibility as athletes to grow the game and invite new people, no matter what your background is, to pick up a club and play golf.” - Mel [6:08]
  • “The younger generation are certainly going to push the older generation, that’s for sure.” - Mel [14:52]
  • “I’m a true believer that we are all human beings at the end of the day, and Pride month is a fantastic month to celebrate inclusion.” - Mel  [15:12]
  • “I’m extremely happy and we are going to have all the nice things we are supposed to have in life. If we want a family, we can do that. If we want to get married, we can do that.” - Mel [19:50]
  • “Pride is about so much more than pride. It’s generosity. It’s inclusivity. It's a true community, and it makes us better.” - Jo [20:23]

 

Continue on your journey:

pega.com/podcast

 

Mentioned:

Mel Reid - Instagram | Twitter | LPGA

Athlete Ally

 

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