Sports and Women: a bad combination

Unlike most dykes, I hated gym class. It would have been great if we had been allowed to do something productive. Learning to lift weights, training to jog or swim, even yoga or pilates would have been very beneficial and probably fun. Instead, girls were forced to play ball games.

Gym class as it exists – that is, an hour of playing ball games – was designed for boys, to release their restless energy so that they would be able to sit still during regular classes, and to give their natural tendency to violence a controlled outlet. Girls don’t have that kind of restless energy or violence, so there is no reason to force them to play those ball games almost all females find tedious. I never even knew the rules; the teachers certainly weren’t going to tell us what they were, and I had no reason to find out on my own. So I would just go out into the field in that dreadful uniform and try not to get hit with the ball.

The girls’ gym teachers were invariably butch dykes who probably enjoyed sports themselves, but had no clue how to coach others. This is yet another example that most women desperately need male guidance. For example, if you wanted a classful of preteens to be able to run a mile, how would you go about it? Would you have them practice every day, running only as far as they could to start, running farther each day as their endurance and fitness increased? Or would you just one day stroll in and announce, “Everybody, run one mile. We won’t run again for two months, at which time I will again expect you to be able to run one mile”? If you were a girls’ gym teacher, you would answer the latter. These dykes didn’t even know how to avoid getting us all seriously injured, never mind enhancing our fitness or even teaching us the rules we were supposed to be playing by.

And invariably, every single year, there would be about ten girls in my grade who liked sports and were good at them and jumped in, and the rest of us would stand around worrying that those vile shorts made us look fat and trying to have conversations which the teachers kept interrupting with demands that we do something or other with the ball.

Unfortunately, the misery and the universally bad effects of forcing girls to play sports aren’t going to end anytime soon:

Playing point guard helped point way for Palin

As Clinton demonstrated, the reporters ate it up, but perhaps no more than Clinton herself did. A few moments later, she spoke of her days as a schoolgirl playing the game.

“When I played basketball in the dark ages,” she said, “young women could not play full-court basketball. … You had to stop at half-court, could not cross the line. There were many different reasons that were given. It was bad for the health of women. I was told our hearts couldn’t take it. So you had six people on a team, three on each side, three offense, three defense. You couldn’t cross the middle line. It was unbelievable. … You see, times have changed. Look where they are today.”

Look where they are, indeed. More than 40 years after Clinton was told she couldn’t cross center court in the Chicago suburbs, and more than 25 years after an aggressive female high school point guard in Alaska was playing relentless, full-court offense and defense, the nation has a woman running for vice president who also happens to be a full-fledged jock.

It might not be entirely coincidental that Title IX, the federal law that opened the playing fields of America to our daughters as well as our sons, had been in effect (though barely enforced) for a decade when Sarah Palin’s team won that state high school basketball championship in 1982.

“I had a great upbringing under Title IX,” Palin told Alaska Business Monthly shortly after becoming governor in late 2006. “I can’t imagine where I’d be without the opportunities provided to me in sports. Sports taught me that gender isn’t an issue; in fact, when people talk about me being the first female governor, I’m a little absent from that discussion, because I’ve never thought of gender as an issue. In sports, you learn self-discipline, healthy competition, to be gracious in victory and defeat, and the importance of being part of a team and understanding what part you play on that team. You all work together to reach a goal, and I think all of those factors come into play in my role as governor.”

So, thanks to Title IX, we are endangering the health of young women by forcing them to play sports and attempt feats beyond their physical capabilities even more than we used to. Yay?

And Governor Palin claims, “Sports taught me that gender isn’t an issue.” I don’t see how sports could possibly have taught her that. If she ever so much as casually shot baskets in the driveway with a male, sports had to have demonstrated indisputably that gender is very much “an issue”.


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