There's been a lot of debate and backlash about Michael Sokolove's New York Times Magazine article on the rash of injuries among young women in sports. What does it mean? Is it all "poor little rich girl" syndrome, or a way to justify the old Bush Administration Commission on Opportunity in Athletics report that said Title IX should be relaxed to allow colleges to survey women about what sports they want to play and allocate money accordingly? Sokolove's response will be printed in this weekend's magazine, and there are some interesting points made about the differences in officiating, the need some young women have to be thin and athletic, and, yes, the pushy-parent syndrome. It stands in rather stark contrast to Timesman John Tierney's blog post in which he suggests us crazy feminists are at fault. Oh, yes, he went there.
Tierney, that renowned expert on gender differences, suggests that men are biologically more inclined to be competitive — because, of course, it's always nature over nurture — and that sports were designed with men in mind and so, of course, women's bodies won't be suited for them. Because running and kicking and jumping, well, gosh, that's something girls are obviously biologically unsuited for because we develop hips and stuff. Also, he claims that female cross-country runners are more prone to eating disorders, not that he bothers comparing them with, say, male wrestlers or contemplates the possibility that women prone to eating/exercise disorders are attracted to an endurance sport that doesn't encourage a lot of muscle growth or anything. Oh, and of course he finds a woman anthropologist who says that playing sports isn't necessary to learn anything about life later, since
"You don't need football to learn how to succeed in school or the office. You don't surround a computer and tackle it. You need the ability to read and discuss and compromise- - the kind of skills that women were developing around the campfire while men were off fighting and chasing animals."
Way to not enforce any gender stereotypes based on suppositions about how all men and all women acted thousands and thousands of years ago!
Oh, and by the way, Tierney says that women may exercise more after college then men, but that we don't tend to stick with team sports — and it's not because we lack the opportunity — but instead we turn to dancing which is probably safer for our weak and fragile bodies. (I guess I should go tell my sister to get off her ultimate Frisbee team and stop playing co-rec softball and I should totally tell my friend Harry's wife Gail and her teammates that co-rec football is too dangerous and, oh God, my friend Molly really needs to stop playing softball, soccer, volleyball, Frisbee and football because they're going to harm themselves and all the women like me that are concerned with injury are in dance classes. Except that I'm not, because I hurt my hip dancing ballet as a teenager as a way to avoid the competitive sports at which I suck and don't really like.
But, back to Sokolove: he and his questioners point out, rightly, that one of the causes of ACL injuries seems to be a lack of appropriately-supportive muscles in the legs of young women, many of whom don't want to have chunky legs (because, as we've all learned from coverage of Hillary Clinton, that is truly the biggest sin). Also, parents who push their kids to play sports for scholarships suck and are completely misguided; refs who allow more inappropriate violence in women's games might play a role; and pain is there for a reason and playing through it is probably bad. All of which is great, and important information, but it still doesn't add up to "feminists are ignoring injuries to women in a quest for equality," which is the connotation of statements like this one:
Advocates for women's sports have had to keep a laser focus on one thing: making sure they have equal access to high-school and college sports. It's hard to fight for equal rights while also broadcasting alarm about injuries that might suggest women are too delicate to play certain games or to play them at a high level of intensity.
Because, obviously, all Feminazis are more concerned with political correctness than long-term debilitating injuries and, of course, hating on men. In that spirit, let me say: get bent.
The Uneven Playing Field [NY Times]
Michael Sokolove on 'The Uneven Playing Field' [NY Times]
Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics [US Department of Education]
Politically Incorrect Soccer Injuries [NY Times]