There have been a number of online articles recently about girls who have competed in boys' sports leagues. There was a female wrestler who competed at the Iowa state wrestling championships, who won her initial bout in a forfeit after the boy she was scheduled to compete against refused to compete against her. There was a girl who actually won a state title in wrestling in Vermont, where there are few competitors in wrestling.
Then, this morning, there was an article on Yahoo Sports about two female pitchers who faced each other in a high school baseball tournament in Southern California. An excerpt:
Ghazaleh Sailors couldn’t believe what she was reading.
It was a story in the newspaper about a girl breaking barriers in the game of baseball.
A girl fighting to stay in the game past Little League -– when most are forced to make the transition to softball. A girl surviving and thriving on the pitcher’s mound –- using guts and guile to record outs, even strikeouts. A girl proving that baseball could be a co-ed sport.
It was the story of her life.
Except the story wasn’t about her.
Unbeknownst to Sailors, Marti Sementelli was growing up just a few hours away from her in Southern California, going through the same ups and downs.
“It was incredible to see it,” Sailors says. “We share the same story and have followed a similar path since childhood.”
The two connected on Facebook, then met in person for the first time last summer while playing on the U.S. Women’s National Baseball Team.
Saturday they made history.
When Sailors and her San Marcos High teammates traveled from Santa Barbara to Van Nuys to take on Sementelli and Birmingham High, it marked the first time that a varsity high school baseball game features two female starting pitchers.
Sementelli got the better of Sailors, throwing a complete game and allowing only five hits in a 6-1 win.
But they blazed a trail together.
“I think we have a really cool story -– one a lot of girls don’t know about,” she says. “It’s something me and Ghaz share. But we want to spread the word and get it out and get more girls playing.”
The story goes on in similar breathless fashion to describe what brave pioneers these girls are. The stories about the female wrestlers, both of which -- unsurprisingly -- got a lot of play in the New York Times, had a similar ecstatic tone.
I'm sure all of the young women involved are perfectly fine people. I'm sure each loves her sport, is a dedicated athlete, and works hard to achieve whatever success she can. And I'm glad that each has been afforded the opportunity to compete in her chosen sport, since those particular sports were not otherwise available to them. (Most high schools have girls' softball teams rather than baseball teams, and no high schools have girls' wrestling.)
I'm certainly not the kind of guy who would suggest that those female wrestlers stick to mud wrestling. (Well, at least not on this blog.) And in the sports I follow most closely, swimming and track, I am as big a fan of the women as the men.
But I can't help but be annoyed by the implications of all these articles, which is that if girls were only afforded more opportunity in sports, they could compete on an equal basis with men across a wider range of sports -- and that only crusty old hidebound traditionalists unwilling to acknowledge any female athletic ability somehow prevent this from happening.
The articles do everything but cry out, "Women rule! Girl Power! Anything a man can do, a woman can do better!" Sure -- now that the floodgates have opened, girls will be dominating boys' sports team across the nation.
This is just utter silliness. There's just a huge, yawning gap between the average girl's athletic ability and the average boy's. And that elephant in the room is always studiously ignored in these articles.
In fairness to the authors, none of them ever spelled out what they were implying. I doubt any of them actually believe their own implications, either. And a local sportswriter's job is essentially to be a hometown cheerleader. But talking about broken barriers is simply misleading.
Are we supposed to think that Ghazaleh and Marti are somehow the equivalent of Jackie Robinson being allowed into the Major Leagues, or of Jesse Owens refuting theories of Aryan superiority in Berlin in 1936? As anyone with a modicum of common sense will admit, blacks are, at the top levels, simply better than whites at many sports. (Since the 1984 Olympics, to take one example, there have been exactly 56 finalists in the men's 100 meter dash; exactly zero of them have been any race other than black. Coincidence? You tell me.) In any case, the rules that held blacks back sixty years ago were unquestionably unfair.
But for those who like to imply that women are being held back similarly, I have a suggestion. From now on, let's practice full integration in sports -- sexual as well as racial. No more men's and women's teams -- let's just allow them to compete directly with each other in all sports.
That should make the feminists happy -- no more artificial barriers.