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Why Morgan Rielly's Comment Will Always Be A Big Deal

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Last week Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly made a comment to the media likening the Leafs' losing streak to acting like girls. Outrage rightfully ensued on twitter, but the comment shed light on a much bigger issue.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

You throw like a girl. You run like a girl. Stop being a girl about it.

When any man or woman is caught saying these phrases or any variation of them, it's usually met with laughter. More concerning, though, the general consensus is throwing, running, or acting like a girl is negative and denotes weakness. When did being a woman become such a terrible thing? When, in 2015, was it appropriate for a public figure to use the word 'girl' as an adjective for sappiness, laziness, and low morale?

When, in 2015, is it appropriate for others to exclaim the situation is blown out of proportion because it's just something a hockey player said? Why is it OK for Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly to say the Leafs have to stop being girls about their losing ways? The short answer is it's not OK, it's not appropriate and it's demeaning. Many of you probably already know this.

During Super Bowl 49, Always ran an ad asking men, women, young boys and young girls to show them how to "run like a girl." Each group, aside from the young girls, put on a pathetic display of what running, throwing, and fighting looks like if you're a girl. Doing something like a girl showed weakness and ineptitude. It showed the world the general consensus is girls are lesser than boys or men. Girls are unable to do what men and boys can. Girls are, when used as an adjective, useless. However, the women, men, and young boys all saw no problem with insulting girls who weren't their sisters. They saw no problem with demonstrating their view of women as lesser than men when it comes to running, throwing, or fighting.

"Why can't "run like a girl" also mean win the race?"

You can say it's generational, that not everyone thinks the same way. You can say it just takes time to remove the stereotype, but you can't use the phrase and be shocked if you have to explain to someone what "running like a girl" looks like to you. When one of the youngest participants in the Always ad was asked to explain what it means to run like a girl she said, "It means run as fast as you can."

Many men jumped to Rielly's defense when the quote made its way into timelines on twitter. He made a mistake, it's not a big deal, the world would be a better place if there were more people who acted like girls. The problem with those statements is a complete disregard for the women and girls who hate having to grin and bear it every time someone uses the word 'girl' in a negative way. There is a lack of understanding that goes along with continually being looked at as less qualified, less important, less knowledgable, less capable, should I continue?

Another girl said she doesn't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing to be called a girl, "It sounds like you're trying to humiliate someone." Erin, from the group of women, said when little girls are told they do things like girls, "... it definitely drops their self-confidence and really puts them down... they think they're a strong person and it's kind of like telling them they're weak and they're not as good." The negative connotation associated with being a girl comes from boys, men, and women who don't know the definition of encouragement. They don't know what it means to support another being. When the "like a girl" phrase is used to express weakness it spreads the message women have always been and will always be less than the men around them doing the same tasks, studies, or jobs.

"Yes I kick like a girl and I swim like a girl and I walk like a girl and I wake up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl. And that is not something I should be ashamed of."

Throwing like a boy is a good thing. Bucking up and "being a man" is a good thing. Being a girl is a bad thing. Being a girl about losing means you're not getting the job done. You're incapable of winning, your effort is inadequate just because you decided not to be a man. It's funny, because the 23 men playing the game are not girls. Saying you're acting like girls insinuates girls cannot win, they cannot be successful.

When the youngest boy in the Always experiment was asked about his sister, he said she throws like a boy and all his friends know that because she's athletic. When asked if he could stop telling others they do things like a girl, he said, "I can try." Everyone needs to put in a little more effort.

Rielly apologized after the media took a hold of his comment and back-pedalled as fast as he could. "It's a phrase that has to be taken out of today's society," Rielly said Friday. "I know that I can't be using that, it was just careless by me, I didn't mean it the way it was taken at all. I'm sorry for the way it came across."

The problem with his statement is there is no other way to take what he said and flip it to make it positive and innocuous. Likening an inability to complete a task as unimportant to the general public as winning a hockey game to the imagined tributes of a girl is as offensive as it gets. What's more alarming is the reaction from the public that spewed out words saying it was just a mistake, it was just a slip of the tongue; it shouldn't be a big deal. It is a big deal. It will always be a big deal as long as women continue to be treated as if they'll never be on par with a man.

Rielly isn't the devil in this situation, his comment is a reminder of how far the sports world needs to come to accept women in what they believe is their world. To accept all genders, shapes, and sizes in a community and industry that continues to show women are not even close equal.