Saturday, November 5, 2011

A New Sports Paradigm

I grew up playing sports.  I played soccer and I played volleyball for the vast majority of my pre-college years. One of the things that became utterly ingrained in my mind was that men and women perform separately in sports because they are so completely different.  And the thing is, to some extent it's true.  Women sprinter's records are slower then men sprinter's.  The same thing holds true for swimming and various other sports.

But then I think about it and a lot of sports, soccer and volleyball included, don't necessarily hold much/any advantage for men over women.  The men I've played volleyball with recreationally do tend to hit harder than many of the women but because of they do have that strength that many times they don't have to work as hard for (generally), their blocking is sloppy, their accuracy is poor, and their vision of the court is worse.  This isn't the case for everyone, but most of the women players I've played with tend to be smarter about how they play the ball.  This of course isn't because women are inherently smarter, it has everything to do with how women are trained.  Less of them can just power the ball and blow people over, so coaches teach proper blocking and  vision of the court to find holes.  However, I would like to say that I have seen girls I was playing with whose noses just became faucets from getting hit in the nose my women hitters.

There are also positions in volleyball that favor women, who tend to be shorter (although on the whole volleyball is a sport for tall people).  The defensive specialist and libero specialists require agility, mobility, and being low to the ground.  So, there's a position that shorter people would excel at.

As for soccer, and there are a lot of other sports that I know less about that I could also use as an example, Shea is currently training with boys and she scores just as many goals when she plays with them as when she plays when her own team.  The boys are fairly astonished by this, she just takes it as how it should be.

I'm not claiming that all sports should be integrated.  As much as I hate to admit it, women are generally shorter and lighter (less muscle mass in particular) and men are generally taller with more muscle mass.  And I do think that having gender neutral sprinting would be fairly devastating to women sprinters and then would you make every race be 50% women?  It doesn't really work.  There's a lot of problems with how sports are set up in general right now and it's certainly not an easy fix, but it is interesting to think about.

This entire page is very very good, but the section on  "Gender and Sports" is relevant.  Check out the one on ski jumping in particular.

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