The two great goals of my childhood were to play for the New York Yankees, and the become President of the United States. I have yet to accomplish either of these things, but it occurred to me today to wonder - which will happen first? A woman in major league baseball, or a woman in the White House?
What do you think, and why?
White house. I am pretty sure this will happen in my lifetime.
Right now we have female governors, female senators, and female presidents in other countries. There are women who are playing starring roles in the political equalivant of the minor leagues and other professional sports franchises. Unless you count the filly that won the belmont stakes or Danica Patrick I can't think of any women stars in men's professional sports.
Actually that system does exist in some parts of the world, and segregated court systems.
I suppose I am a little skeptical because I was a swimmer and women are not actually excluded from swimming with the boys (or rather they were not under USASwiming rules when I swam) but they simply did not even though the events were the same. The reason that they don't is simply that their times are not competitive.
Honestly I would prefer to see things like flat track roller derby, which are sports designed by women for women, grow in power and popularity as professional sports, then to see a few token women in men's sports leagues.
The White House. For some reason, men are even more absurdly convinced that women suck at sports than that they suck at public affairs. I've said before that I do think that gender-separate sporting leagues make sense (for most sports, Jaime points out), and that the problem is that there is no (even remotely) equivalent womens' league. Professional womens' sports that are taken semi-seriously in this country are... soccer and basketball. At least in soccer, mens' soccer isn't really given much more attention than womens', but there are light years between the NBA and WNBA in terms of money, commercialization, respect for the athletes, etc etc.
I've said before that I do think that gender-separate sporting leagues make sense (for most sports, Jaime points out), and that the problem is that there is no (even remotely) equivalent womens' league.
I can see this argument, although the fact remains that the popularity of the sports leagues are dependent upon fan appreciation, which is not necessarily something you can create or control. It is easy to say "people should pay just as much money and attention to women's leagues as men's leagues", it's another thing to make them do it. And in the mean time women who should be able to play the sport they love and receive just as much acclaim for it as men languish without opportunity. Whereas if we were pushing for and encouraging women to play in men's sports leagues they would at least have a chance to prove themselves. I have no doubt that there are women athletes who can compete in most sports at the professional level. Perhaps not in the same percentages as men, and perhaps not as dominantly as the male greats, but even mediocre professional players get heaps more attention, money, and arguably satisfaction than their female counterparts.
I don't know a huge amount about the history of sports, but what little I do know is about basketball. Basketball was invented by a guy named James Naismith at Springfield College (in Springfield, MA), and from the beginning Naismith encouraged women to play the game. As a result, basketball was seen, from its earliest days, as a sport that women could get involved in. I think that this early social acceptance of women's involvement has a large part to do with the relative success of the WNBA (granted the WNBA is still secondary to the men's league, but at least women are allowed in the sport). Some of the reason for women's exclusion from male sports organizations probably does have to do with differences in muscle development, but that difference certainly doesn't warrant the degree of exclusion.
My personal beef with male-dominated sports isn't so much with baseball leagues as it is with horse racing. Why the hell are 99% of jockeys men? If there is a gender bias in that sport, it should be towards women since they are on average lighter than men. Instead though, the racing establishment goes out of its way to find unnaturally tiny men. That makes absolutely no sense to me.
I think you have a really solid point here; I suppose that what I'm talking about is some kind of hypothetical ideal. I guess that there are a couple of points to be concerned about with limited integration, though. For example, in baseball. I think that there's no reason that fielding by women would be any different, but unfortunately, the prestige in baseball is in pitching and in hitting home runs. Savvy definitely can compensate for raw strength, but the best men have both, and there's some worry that even a brilliant woman pitcher would get negative PR simply because she couldn't throw the ball as fast as her male counterpart. I remember very clearly a political science course where the professor asked for opinions on Title IX, and one jerk said that he opposed it because, "Who wants to watch a bunch of girls playing basketball?" Would integration alleviate this, or cause more backlash, or simply make no impression? I'm honestly asking your opinion, here - this is a hard question, and I can't figure it out. Is there an intermediate position in which we can make progress before achieving some ideal of equal prestige?
It seems that women pioneers have difficulty with backlash and sexism even in sports where testosterone levels have less importance to performance. Take Danica what's-her-name, the first woman NASCAR driver. She catches a lot of flack for not winning many races, and it's often blamed on her sex ("women can't drive" - that's obviously unfair, since she's better than 99.99% of all the male drivers in the country, including the dumb motorheads who think they're so great for driving WRX's around. Clearly, we need to broaden the talent pool of women athletes a whole hell of a lot. Maybe you're right - getting women athletes into the big leagues now will provide that much more inspiration to girls who want to get into sports, and simply get more of them started in the first place. That's the big barrier we face - sports are for boys. I suppose that letting women into even male-dominated professional ranks may be a big help in this respect.
And there's definitely significant overlap in ability, so more involvement helps. My friend and I went down to the velodrome to race bikes the other day. This kind of cycling emphasizes sprinting power, which you would generally expect, on average, to give an advantage to men. Well, my friend beat the pants off of quite a few men that day. So I think you've got a really good point.
a woman in the white house.
judging from the past election, we're much closer to that.
and from what i know of baseball and it's history, it might never happen that we see a woman on major league baseball team.
minor leagues, and women's leagues, sure...but major league? never!
i think it has more to do what people's bodies and physical strength than anything else when it comes to baseball.
which is really sexist...
Woman in the white house.
Why? A divisive (mostly an un-deserved status) woman got damned close to getting nominated and would have had a good chance to have gotten elected.
Assuming Obama doesn't muck things up he gets another four years and then who does the Democratic party turn to? I'm not putting too much on the Republican party magically producing a female leader with wide appeal in that time. But it could happen.
I have yet to see any discussion of integrating professional sports in the U.S or anywhere else in the world. I think we have awhile to go on that front.
But that gives you ample time to start a solid steroid program so you'll be all set for the Yankees once they do. ;)