February 25, 2003

Gaining ground and breaking it. : The New York Times surveys "women taking on men in sports traditionally separated by gender," including professional hockey, college football, drag racing, and baseball. "The question is no longer, 'Can women play?' The critical question is, 'At what level?' That's the 21st-century question."

posted by kirkaracha to culture at 01:14 AM - 15 comments

No, i still think the question is, "Who gives a crap!?"

posted by StarFucker at 08:27 AM on February 25, 2003

Judging by the sheer number of posts on this topic in the last few weeks, I think a lot of people give a crap. At the very least it always seems to generate thoughtful discussion. The article you linked to offers pretty weak evidence for women catching up to men. I remember reading an article years ago (right after the 84 Olympics I believe) that concluded that women would eventually catch the men because the Gold Medal time in the 100 meter dash was only about a second off the Gold Medal time for the Men. Of course one second in the 100 meter dash equals about 10 meters, and if you added a one second handicap to a male Olympian's time he wouldn't win a college meet. The woman who coached a mens game did so because the male coach was suspended, the female college football player was not only playing kicker, but missed her first attempt. As we have discussed before, Annika can probably only compete in golf events where strength is removed from the equation. So in other words, not the British Open, Masters, PGA Championship, or US Open. As the women improve, so will the men, and the gaps will not be bridged completely (unless the "athlete" in question is a racecar, or racehorse, etc.). And as long as the best women can make a good living competing against other women, but cannot make a living competing against men, they will continue to compete against their own gender.

posted by vito90 at 09:28 AM on February 25, 2003

Great insight Vito. I would also suggest that the gap will continue to close in some team sports where skill is more valued relative to strength. In many sports, it must be noted, the grassroots infrastructure for females is nowhere near as developed as it is for males. When as many youngsters have the opportunity to play traditionally male team sports, you will start to see more women creeping into skill positions at higher and higher levels.

posted by smithers at 11:36 AM on February 25, 2003

Smithers - exactly right re: infrastructure. I would love to see inter-gender competition between elites in those sports that are very popular for women in high school but rarely played by men of the same age. Volleyball and fast-pitch Softball come to mind. In Seattle there is a very popular Volleyball league that plays at my gym. Most weekends I'll amble over to watch and the women are truly phenomenal, as good or better than the men. Many of the men that do play are from Hawaii where Volleyball is played all the time, obviously. Here in Washington State Volleyball is an extremely popular Women's High School sport, but to my knowledge no boys have the opportunity to play V-Ball for their school.

posted by vito90 at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2003

I think we can pretty much all agree that women will never be able to compete with the best male athletes in areas where size and strenth are necessary. In our lifetimes we won't see any ladies in the NFL (kicker is possible), NHL (goalie has been done, but not well and only as a publicity stunt in a pre-season game), etc. I'm guessing mixed-gender boxing is out, too. But other sports are completely possible, as long as people like Starfucker arent in charge (nothing personal, Fucker). On a tangent, from the article: The 2:20 mark had been a kind of mental barrier, Radcliffe said, but it has been blasted through, a function of confidence, training and expectation in an event that was forbidden to women in the Olympics until 1984. Long before then, many feared that women would harm themselves by running long distance and might even risk having their uteruses fall out. That's easily the least necessary paragraph I've seen today.

posted by Samsonov14 at 12:06 PM on February 25, 2003

You guys can pretend you're all enlightened and treat women equally and we're all equal in the world and everyone would be better off if we would just stop discriminating and blah blah blah... Bottom line is, women are smaller, weaker and always will be...If it makes you feel better, or gets you laid if you agree women are going to catch up with men in sports or whatever, than fine...but don't insult my intelligence by telling me you actually believe it.

posted by StarFucker at 02:10 PM on February 25, 2003

But is that true in every case? I remember reading an article a long time ago that women were almost equals to men in certain sports, like ski jumping, and marksmenship sports. I have no idea of the validity of this though.

posted by corpse at 02:33 PM on February 25, 2003

Yeah, something about Archery. I remember seeing that too, but I couldn't find it.

posted by Samsonov14 at 03:56 PM on February 25, 2003

I seem to recall a theory put forth that women were superior in the biatholon because they could get their heartrate to return to a normal beat more rapidly than a man, which made for more accurate shooting. Of course if men are skiing the course much faster then that would mitigate any possible advantage. I think for most sports though, their boobs generally get in the way.

posted by vito90 at 04:03 PM on February 25, 2003

you're right about archery. women are catching up to the men's scores, especially in the olympics. there's talk in the archery community right now about making the male compound pro division open to women so they can have a shot at the big bucks (in the recent shoot in Las Vegas the top male pro got $10,000 while the top female got $3000) i can't pull up links at the moment but i've witnessed it at many events involving pros. i've even seen it at local shoots and my own league. sure, men have a speed advantage since they can pull back more weight, but i can keep up with a lot of guys i know who shoot 55-60+lbs. compared to my 40-45lbs. it's all about accuracy, which involves form, muscle memory and concentration, not brute strength. and vito, my boobs don't really get in the way while shooting. it's actually a nice place to rest my string at full draw.

posted by goddam at 08:54 PM on February 25, 2003

You guys can pretend you're all enlightened and treat women equally and ... blah blah blah... It has nothing to do with that. It's an awareness that the sports world is a touch bigger than what you watch every weekend on television. I think for most sports though, their boobs generally get in the way. This story is a little tangential, Vito, but I was talking to a female friend the other day who is a pretty good golfer and she was telling me that when she is giving lessons, pregnant women are very good at golf. I guess they tend to swing less with their arms and more gently swivel their hips, so they end up smacking the ball (unlike me thrashing away). Who'da thunk?

posted by smithers at 10:28 PM on February 25, 2003

Golf and sport should never be used in the same sentence...unless pointing it out as i just did.

posted by StarFucker at 08:28 AM on February 26, 2003

StarFucker: Golf is more of a sport than anything involving a car, a horse or a boat.

posted by grum@work at 09:46 AM on February 26, 2003

Some of us don't have to pretend we're enlightened, StarFucker.

posted by rcade at 10:14 AM on February 26, 2003

Does it make a difference whether it's right or not? Women should have every right to try and be as good as the men who compete in their sport. Will a woman ever play lineman in the NFL? I dunno, but if you grew a woman to BE a lineman once you knew she was predisposed to be 6-4 and 280, one might. It has a lot more to do with training, etc ... something males get right from the start if they have the size. As for other sports, why is Annika being singled out for playing a course that suits her? I mean, Corey Pavin isn't going to win on a long course either, because he's not built to powder the ball. I would think women could be superior in golf, shooting, archery and the like ... Here's a sidenote about being a complete freaking pig: The notes about boobs getting in the way got me all bothered. Geena Davis, anyone?

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:21 AM on February 26, 2003

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