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December 9th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Act Like a Lady?

soccer1By now, you’ve probably seen what has become one of the most popular Internet videos of the year — University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert in a game against Brigham Young University, throwing elbows and punches, viciously colliding with several players and then yanking the ponytail of a BYU player who went crashing to the ground.

I’m curious what everyone thinks about what Lambert did — and why it has made her, to her own despair, such an Internet celebrity. Despite the fact that she has apologized practically to everyone in the world, and despite the fact that she was suspended indefinitely from the team, there are a lot of people who are still in an absolute frenzy about her antics. I actually heard someone on one of the sports cable channels call her the “dirtiest ever” female athlete in all of sports.

I agree that what she did was shameful, bratty, unsportsman-like and just plain unacceptable. I do have to say, as someone who grew up in athletics from grade school through college, I have seen worse. A lot worse! So my question is, would our reaction to Lambert have been different if she were a man? Perhaps you remember earlier this year, when a running back from the University of Oregon punched an opposing player in the face. Although he was initially suspended for the season, he was quietly reinstated several weeks later. And don’t forget, even Michael Vick is playing football again — yes, that Michael Vick who killed dogs.

What do you think is going on here? Should we expect more of women in athletic contests than men? Should we expect them to be more than just the typical “dumb jocks?” Or is it unfair to hold women athletes to stricter standards of behavior than male athletes, who are taught that it’s OK sometimes for boys to be boys? Are many of us still, deep down, resentful of women who act aggressive — who don’t act nice and cuddly the way their mothers and grandmothers did?

I do hope that in the same way we forgive misbehaving male athletes, we let Lambert go on with her life and return to the soccer field. (She is only a junior.) And I certainly hope we don’t use what she did on one afternoon as a sort of proxy for her entire gender, claiming that this new generation is in some way more out of control.

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32 Responses to “Act Like a Lady?”

  1. jackie nemeth says:


  2. Rose Marie Holt says:

    A man caught behaving like this would not be tolerated either.

  3. Joyce says:

    I agree with Dr Phil (as I usually do) however In this instance I think the girl did show bad sportsmanship, acted horribly yet has apologized over and over. What more can she do??? I say let it go and let her play. Everyone and I dont care who you are has done something in their lives they are not proud of. Everyone makes mistakes.. They need to drop the double standard act and let her play.

  4. LindaRH says:

    Actually, I think she deserves her punishment, although she should be allowed to return to the team after awhile. It would be disgraceful to let this behavior go unremarked and I think men and boy’s sports should be better policed too.
    Remember Tonya Harding that clubbed her American figure skating teamate at the Norway Olympics? I wonder if she was this “competitive” in other sports? Her reputation was destroyed from then on. It’s not fair that men get away with this and women don’t, but that doesn’t make the behavior acceptable.
    I also think this is another example of the new violent young women too.

  5. renee graham says:

    I believe that most people have forgotten how to act civilized. Society now a days worry more about being smarter, tougher, prettier, or richer instead of worring about the simplest thing in life….happiness. It truely is ashame. My how times have changed thru the years, and that goes for people of all ages.

  6. Jannie says:

    Soccer is fun to play. I play it myself, but what se does is not okay and against the rules and the rules shall not be changed.

  7. Cassie says:

    I don’t see why we have to tolerate it from either male OR female athletes. Shouldn’t we set a higher standard for all of them?

  8. Carmen says:

    I agree with you.
    I play ringette, which is kind of like hockey. My team is very dirty when it comes to penalties. Ringette isn’t even a contact sport! I don’t know why but girls these days just fight and hit other girls like its a trend or something. I admitt that I have gotten penalties before that were unneccessary but the penalties I have seen are unbelievable. I love ringette with all of my heart because it is so much fun. ringette is supposed to be all about friendship, respect and teamwork. I find that ringette is drifting away from that moto. It is vert sad.
    People who watch ringette love it. They think the penalties are funny and exciting. Friends of mine have wanted to “see a fight” and girls seem to go along with it and start a fight. It is a very dramatic subject to me because I think that it is crazy how girls my age want to fight so much! Can’t we all just get along? or is it in the fun of the game that we need to find a thrill somehow?

  9. Anita says:

    Well, watching the video, is probably not the best way to try and form an opinion of the girl. It was a moment in time that she will probably never live down. It looks terrible and makes her look terrible. But there is bound to be so much more to this girl than punching someone in the back or pulling someone down by thier ponytail. If this is the usual behavior for her on and off the field,then God help her. She needs to curb her temper and move on. I don’t think it’s any worse for a female athlete to behave this way than for a male athlete to behave in this manner. It’s equally bad. There’s no justifiable excuse for this behavior. The only way she’ll ever really understand how what she did, made the other people feel, is if it ever happens to her.

  10. Molly Wakefield says:

    I believe we all need to be responsible for our actions and words. We need to grow up and stop acting like anything goes. Our children watch and follow the grown ups. Today is full of many dangerous people that do whatever with no consequences. SHOW BY EXAMPLE. Be watchful and respectful. God bless

  11. Janet Davies says:


    I watched the video again and from what I can see it looks like this gal is reacting to being elbowed and just the general roughness of the game. I had the same problem when I was in sports at school. Thats why I stayed away from contact sports and stuck to track, bowling, tennis, pool anything where no one could interfere with my game. I was the only girl, middle child with two older and two younger brothers and I tell you what, I learned very early to stand my ground and not take any crap. Elizabeth should find a “no contact sport” and do that. I think there is a double standard and they are being too harsh on her. This suspension may have been a wake up call for her. Give the girl another chance!

  12. Ken says:

    Male or female, sportsmanship is an important factor. I witnessed Lagarette Blount, University of Oregon, punch Byron Hauk, Boise State, in the first game of the season. He should have lost his scholarship and been charged with battery. Any player who commits these types of acts need to face the consequences. Blount should never have been reinstated, Michael Vick should have had to find another career.
    I really think that part of the violence is because the educational system no longer teaches sportsmanship. The “everybody is a winner” attitude has caused this. This is a wrong approach to teaching sportsmanship. There are winners and losers in every aspect of life and teaching children differently prepares them for bad behavior in life. Competitive sports does so much more for kids than they realize. Teamwork, competition, winning and losing develop character in young people. Those are attributes that follow someone throughout their life.

  13. Catherine says:

    Hmm, I played soccer for years and that is how some girls play. The girls who were dirty were dirty all the time. I think that if a man did this in soccer he’d get the same attention. If the girl is able to play normal let her play again, but if not something should be done. I remember playing soccer against a whole team of “dirty” girls (at least there were 3-4 of them). Year after year, I’d hate playing against them. I would be running and the next thing I would be lying on the ground on my back. This would happen three times in one game. Another girl got a concussion. Then there were the teams that had only one “dirty” player. I remember playing against girls that would trip you and I’d see them try to hook the ankle to try to break it. I remember once in a tournament a coach telling his girls to “get me” and one stood in front, two on my sides and one behind me so I couldn’t move. Then the one in front who wasn’t facing me turned and with the back of her hit me hard in the mouth. This is not soccer. Girls who play like this as a manner of playing should not be playing soccer. In my experience girls who play like this play like this all the time. I’ve played soccer for over 20 years and have never tried to hurt someone. I think the most that’s happened is someone twisted their ankle playing against me. I wasn’t trying to hurt her and felt bad. I’ve gotten bruised and I’m sure have given out some bruises accidently in collisions, but that’s just the game. I’ve pushed and been pushed. But when girls try to actually hurt others, that’s different, and usually ends bad for someone. Go hard, go fast but don’t be trying to hurt people.

  14. fran burg says:

    I would like to know how the girls on the field feel about playing with a dirty player like her. I would not want her playing against my daughter.

  15. Joe says:

    I think she should be taught that cheaters never win

  16. kelly says:

    In Wyoming, in junior high and high school sports, girls can partake in football and wrestling but boys are not allowed to partake in volleyball or any other girls sports. I feel boys sports should be left to the boys, and girls sports to the girls. My son is in eight grade and is in wrestling and football. After teaching him to treat women with respect, he is now told to get in inappropriate positions with them – and one is called THE HONEYMOONER! I really have a problem with that.

  17. Tara Lynn says:

    I love the name of this story, Act like a Lady. My dad always said that, and it seems like when you say that now, no one seems to know what you are talking about. I think more people should be told ot act like a lady.

  18. Robin Davis says:

    She deserves to be punished. Maybe sit out on a couple of games or so,but keep her on the team. Hey in MLB when they fight or what not thats what they do. (except sometimes they are fined) I don’t see why that wouldn’t be punishment enough.

  19. Ditto Dr. Phil… I strive to and I have been embracing your Life Law #9 lately and Matthew 6:9-15.


    Just returned from a lovely trip to my home town in Norman, OK at the best place in the world to stay, Montford Inn. You ought to take Robin there sometime as across the street from the Mayor and library. Just a short walk to OU Campus and President of OU, David Boren’s house. I think Barry Switzer lives there again as well.

    You can stay in main Inn of Montford Inn or in one of their cottages. I think I’ll mail an autographed copy of Robin’s book “Inside My Heart” there for their library. So beautiful as they had Christmas Tree up and Fireplace going in main Inn where the bookcases are. There was wine, apple cider and home-made cookies to enjoy while sitting by fire. I sat in chair w/ottoman that my dearly departed mother sat in 7 years ago enjoying. Most those who visit to speak at OU stay there now. Montford Inn was our first B&B experience for our birthdays.

    I wish the house at 904 East Comanche had still been available that was listed for $20,000. I’d waited 15 years since losing family home there, during multiple family illness, for such a good deal yet I’m not the only one waiting for a miracle deal so… someone else got.

    I use to say if all I had were the clothes on my back I could still be happy in my home town. So I accept not likely I’ll ever have my own home in my home town ever again. Too hard to get the good deals while living in Dallas, TX. So, I walked in childhood home area around Montford Inn up Main Street, down Gray Street, Up Lahoma etc. Just seeing what was still there and what had changed. All my family homes within a few blocks of Montford Inn.

    Stopped by what use to be a laundry when I was six, two doors from where we lived in a duplex when I was five. Had a memory KODAK moment of my baby chicken following me up there where mom was doing laundry & chick crawling through hole in laundry screen door. Man who just opened a bakery there, Sugars, said he remembered when use to be a laundry from at least 1959 to 1973. He has fixed up better than anyone yet.

    Played in a pool tournament with my brother at Coach’s on Main Street for Battle of the sexes and lost. Lost all time winner for 2009. Yet won a smile seeing him and others playing pool having a such a good time. Then we went and looked at Christmas lights at Andrew’s Park and along railroad tracks by park and around town. A very festive Holiday spirit even though one more year is passing that I am not home in my own home in my home town by Christmas. Thank God for Montford Inn and special memories made and to be made there. Sincerely, SEA

  20. Sidney says:

    Perhaps its the men athletes who aren’t receiving appropriate discipline instead of saying Elizabeth Lambert shouldn’t receive such strict actions.

  21. Carolina Jimenez says:

    My statement is that we pretend we have high expectations for women in sports but the true reality is that a lot of people honesty do not have high expectations for women or girls to success in sports. Girls are still seemed as the weak, victims and therefore the game should go on and to say they are just girls they do what they can. That is what women are about: having a sexy role, being victims, drama queens and it is all about pretend.

  22. Lorraine Ryan says:

    I feel that no matter what the athlete’s gender is, he or she should always display good sportsmanship. It’s what we teach children in school and in after school athletics. Even though there are always going to be those who don’t teach those ethics, coaches everywhere should be making that a priority. In adult life, there are no do-overs. Once you make choices you have to live with the consequences. If anyone holds female athletes to a higher standard than male athletes, then they are guilty of using a double standard. It’s not right no matter who the athlete is. It’s time those who play sports, coach sports, and make money through sponsoring sports got that through their think heads. It should be good sportsmanship that wins out every time!! And as a Phillies fan.. yeah I wish we’d won the World Series in November, but the Yankees outplayed our team. That… is what good sportsmanship looks like. There’s always next year. That’s what the off season is all about. Do what you can to make your team more competitive. No one needs to watch any athlete be overly aggressive on the field of play. Sports isn’t about hurting the other team… it’s about playing the game the best that you can to help your team do its best. That… is what coaches need to convey to their teams.

  23. Leonie says:

    I don’t care whether you are male or female; I’m sick of constantly seeing poor sportsmanship on the field/court and atrocious behaviour by professional sports people off the field as well. Here in Australia sportsmen & women are huge celebrities, particularly the men who are rugby league and Aussie Rules players. The NRL in particular has been constantly plagued with bad behaviour; brawling, extreme drunkness, pack rapes, one of them even defecated in a hotel hallway recently after a wild night out on the town! These guys have contracts worth hundreds of thousands a year & they are role models for thousands of children. I’m sick of their misogynistic irresponsible behaviour, it’s way overdue for the League to properly crack down on this type of behaviour instead of trying to cover it up & giving token smacks on the wrist to these morons.

  24. Chris Mitchell says:

    So what if Lambert apologized to almost every person alive! So what if Vick served his time (which I think was not long enough) for killing dogs the fact remains that they still did it. In fact Vick tried to make us think he had nothing to do with it at first. Not to add fuel to the fire but how about Tiger Woods or OJ Simpson they were role models for many people too then Bam they suddenly have skeletons in their closet. I feel espicially in Lambert and Vicks case if the can’t stop themselves from hurting others be it animal or human they should not be allowed to play sports either. Sports to me was always a privlege especially on the National Leages. If they can’t pay the time don’t do the crime!

  25. Theresa says:

    I was outraged when I saw what this young lady was doing to other girls on the playing field! All I kept saying to myself was that if she had of done to me what she was doing to these girls back in my days, she would have gotten an ass kicking so sevier that she would have never been able to hurt anyone ever again! I was so happy to have seen one girl actually fight back and did a very good job of it! She should be removed from the sport!


  26. Rachel says:

    I was intrigued by the title “Act Like a Lady.” I come from a male-dominated and male-admiring family. Ideas like “a firm handshake shows a man’s integrity” were given value. I prefer a whole-handed handshake, but the half-handed (fingers only) handshake seems to be more common. Whenever I shake hands with someone a meet palms, I feel awkward and unfeminine. My question for Dr. Phil…is a firm whole-handed handshake only for men?

  27. Sherri says:

    I saw that video and I think the frenzy is because you just DON’T expect to see that out of a woman on a sports team like that. That’s behavior for the WWE not women’s college soccer. I am sure she is sorry for her behavior but unfortunately she’s learning a hard lesson about the consequences of those actions….. hopefully people will put it to rest and she can move on.

  28. Kay says:

    You know, we all make mistakes in life – big ones, medium, small. This young woman has apologized, been suspended and it sounds to me like she’s learned a lesson. Let’s give her a chance to move forward with her life. I don’t like one bit what she did and it angered and shocked me. However, she needs to learn from this mistake (and a big one, at that) and move forward, hopefully helping other young women not do what she did. There is a reason for this incident and maybe she will be a catalyst to show how to do better.

  29. Gisele says:

    I have been coaching for a while now, i started when my eldest was six, he is now 22. i also played the sport myself for a few years, as an adult. soccer is what it is, is a strong, emotionally driven, passionate sport, either you love it or you don’t. i am not excusing this girl for the way she played, but i have seen worse. she probably learned a lot of this from an early age, parents for example, they do get into it too. some parents get extremely competitive and begin coaching their kids the wrong way to handle things in the field. i heard parents tell their little 8yr old boys/ or daughters to “go and elbow that kid, just get the ball!”. my eldest still plays as an adult now, and he gets kicked, punched, pushed, etc, the whole works. my second plays in a U17 team and he also sees it hard against extremely strong competitive players, nobody wants to loose in the field, it is a passion that goes beyond thinking about the other team players. i do not agree to that nor the roughness of the game, but soccer is what it is. i believe a good coaching for this girl will do it, i think she has learned her lesson, and she should be able to play the sport that is her passion. she won’t be the last one caugh playing like this. she was just noticed, but soon others will show more, just wait and see. soccer is growing here in the US, and it will attrack more and more kids to the field.

  30. Virginia says:

    My daughter is a travel soccer player and I would be appalled if she showed this type of sportsmanship on or off the field. We have been involved with soccer to 10 years and as children get older, it definitely gets more competitive and contact comes wththe territory at that level and I am fine with that. But when she pulled that girl’s ponytail and wretched her neck, that crossed the line as far as I am concerned. That being said, once her suspension is over the slate must be wiped cleaned and she should be allowed to return to play, knoing full well cameras will be watching her like a hawk. Let’s hope she learned her lesson and be thankful no one was more seriously injured.

  31. Usually anonymous says:

    WoooHooo!!!! Girls gone Wild!!! Oh, it’s not?
    What’s the point of playing sports in US then? Haven’t you seen NHL fights??
    Every man and woman who play sports should also be trained as boxers or martial art karate kids (or adults)!!

    ….You know I’m just kidding, right? And yes, I have a daughter, but I can’t afford to make her play any sports (or music, even…)….otherwise, I would LOVE to put her in a sport team!!!

  32. cc says:

    Usually anonymous…wished I could help with the sports thing.

    Anyway, dangerous behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. Period. Yanking someone’s head back like that is very dangerous. If you are in a fight for your life, have at it. In a game? Unforgivable. She should be bounced from the team.

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