Philobiblon: Unisex sport

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Unisex sport

In a conversation at the office Christmas party (no, this was a fairly sober one), I was talking about playing in local squash leagues and my companion, a quite sporting woman, expressed astonishment that men and women played on equal terms. I pointed out that, as in most sports, it is your skill and ability to play intelligently that matters far more than the highest degree of strength or fitness.

And it is great. As a 38-year-old woman I just love beating the arrogant young males who on arrival at the court look at you and wonder why they bothered to arrange the game - they obviously won't get a workout.

In fact there's really no reason for most sports, maybe all sports, to be segregated.

I've played football (soccer), rugby (well once, and I was outclassed, but that was because of lack of experience), and still play cricket with men, in addition to the squash. I'm slow, but moderately clever and quite strong, and that reflects my childhood experiences, development and training level, not my gender.

And maybe, slowly we're heading in the direction of unisex sport, with the signing of the first woman to play professional league football, in Mexico.

From The Guardian:
A Mexican professional football club has made history by signing a woman. The move has already caused an uproar, but the player is undeterred.

"I'm not frightened of anything," Maribel Dominguez told reporters at a packed press conference called by the second division club Celaya.

"I want to thank all those who believe in me and ask those who don't to give me the chance to try. Maybe I will fail, but at least I will have tried."

Player and club insist there is nothing in the rules prohibiting women from playing in the professional men's leagues. They are waiting for Fifa to endorse the move ..."

The fastest woman in the world may never beat the fastest man over 100m, because the top end of the male bell curve is usually above the female for the required characteristics, but the best marathoner in time could well be a woman, and think of how women's sport would leap ahead with all of the new opportunities and the new drive to get better, faster.


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