Re: Let's argue.

1

We shouldn't have men's and women's events, but just events, or events by age and weight class. (You wanted arguing.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:51 AM
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At elite levels, all athletes are genetic monstrosities of some kind or another. Why allow some kinds of disgusting freaks and not others?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:55 AM
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This ends with Han from Enter the Dragon killing someone with his bear claw prosthesis.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 10:57 AM
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baa! And why are we so speciest? I'd like to see what an American grizzly bear could do in the Olympic wrestling tournament.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:00 AM
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If you're going to divide competition into men's and women's competition (a sensible move, IMHO), then you gotta have definitions, and it's pretty inevitable that some people are going to object to those definitions.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:01 AM
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If "gender testing" is imposed, it ought to be imposed on all Olympic athletes without exception. The present system where men are men, but women are tested, is grotesquely sexist.

Mind you, gender testing would still be grotesque, but at least it wouldn't be quite so sexist.

Tests have found at least one woman who was identified as being intersex and who got stripped of her awards even though there was no evidence she knew she was intersexed and no evidence that her status as a woman who didn't have XX chromosomes made any difference to her ability to run. From photos, she just didn't look feminine.



Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:01 AM
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Could you throw in some pictures of athletes in small clothes? That might help me understand how I feel about this.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:02 AM
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No weight classes! Horseshoes in ever boxing glove! For Equality!

it's pretty inevitable that some people are going to object to those definitions.

Yes, because some people are weenies.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:02 AM
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I'd like to see what an American grizzly bear could do in the Olympic wrestling tournament.

He'd kick the shit out of some commie panda, that's for sure.

There's a great old sci-fi story from the 70s about a future Olympics where everyone uses genetic modification. There's a boxer with his brain below the belt, a swimmer with gills, and a Russian wrestler known only as "the commie cactus." Eventually, they are all thrown out and Sri Lanka sweeps the medals.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:06 AM
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We should divide the competitions up by zodiac signs. Watching the other groups kick the shit out of Cancers would be awesome.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:06 AM
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Sex determination seems to be a pretty fragile process-- it's not at all well conserved (that is, birds, fish and mammals vary much more in the mechanics of a developing fetus gaining sexual characteristics than they do in say how nerves grow). Something unusual in this process is not rare, so the social convention of two sexes and nothing in between is counterfactual. In particular, exposure of the developing fetus to a few hormones is critical; if this is understood better and can be juiced, doping a cohort of future athlete fetuses with the right hormone would be easy.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:07 AM
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Why? I'm completely serious. Men tend to be stronger and faster, and this is true even among Olympians. There'd be no advantage to entering a woman in a competition against men; there might be one in entering a man in a contest for women.

And I'd even wager that the sex lines might be blurrier in the world of super-athletic women, if being born biologically fuzzy confers any sort of athletic bonus.

It's not really clear, because when we're talking Olympic athletes, we're talking bona fide freaks of nature.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:09 AM
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SCMT, there are Ultimate tournaments that assign teams by zodiac sign.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:10 AM
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My feeling is that if someone lives their life as a woman, (excepting those clearly TG/TS), there's probably a good reason, and it shouldn't matter whether they would fail individual tests. Not sure how to implement it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:11 AM
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Please, we prefer the term Moon Children.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:12 AM
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TG/TS people prefer the term Moon Children? Whatever floats your boat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:13 AM
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The Boylan op-ed:The only dependable test for gender is the truth of a person's life, the lives we live each day. Surely the best judge of a person's gender is not a degrading, questionable examination. The best judge of a person's gender is what lies within her, or his, heart.

This isn't an argument for having men's and women's events without testing to determine who should be in which events, it's an argument against having men's and women's events. Boylan does not recognize this.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:14 AM
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The ancient olympians solved this problem by having all athletes compete in the nude. I believe this would a sensible first step to addressing this issue in the modern era.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:14 AM
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The NYT op-ed I read on this subject was kind of infuriating. It spends the first 75% talking the good talk about the fluidity of biological gender, but then seems to conclude that the "truth of a person's life" neatly breaks down into binary gender, and we should use that instead. The idea that someone could live a gender-fluid life - with or without unusual biology - is entirely ignored.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:14 AM
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14: Me too, but I have no idea how to test for it. What, she's too strong and fast? She's an Olympian!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:14 AM
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I heard about this the other day (on NPR, natch) -- women with XY chromosones who aren't hermaphrodites in the way that I understand that term. They didn't develop 2 sets of sex organs or ever have any idea that they were different from any XX woman. Putting aside other categories for a moment, I don't think such women should be penalized or disqualified, but I don't know how one would prove that she didn't know she was XY.

There was a theory in the piece about why XY women might even be disadvantaged, but I don't remember what it was.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:15 AM
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Pwned by w/d and the original post (didn't see that there were three links).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:16 AM
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19: Man, I only (belatedly) got used to the idea of TG/TS a few years ago. There's always someone new to inadvertently offend.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:16 AM
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I believe this would a sensible first step to addressing this issue in the modern era.

I know this is tongue-in-cheek, but further to my 12, I think that most of the genetic differences that end up with someone not being neatly classifiable have been generally been classified as female, usually because of a lack of external male parts (or male parts that were modified in surgery as an infant.) So the case of someone being genetically male but phenotypically female (?) is more common than the reverse.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:18 AM
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So my question is: Is the deliberate-cheating angle totally manufactured? Are there ever men who just want a cheap shot at a gold medal via competing against women? Or is the whole motivation really just that the idea of women with fuzzy genetics is titillating and lurid?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:18 AM
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SCMT, there are Ultimate tournaments that assign teams by zodiac sign.

Fucking hippies.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:18 AM
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women with fuzzy genetics
How fuzzy depends on their testosterone levels.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:19 AM
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Cala: . There'd be no advantage to entering a woman in a competition against men; there might be one in entering a man in a contest for women.

Yes, that's the rationale. But like most sexist rationales, it's not exactly supported by reality.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:21 AM
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There'd be no advantage to entering a woman in a competition against men; there might be one in entering a man in a contest for women.

Which of course raises the question of why essentially all the events are still those that favor men. The original Olympics didn't allow women, but now that we're included, why aren't there events that favor women? Why not judge male gymnasts on the same criteria as female gymnasts, i.e., gracefulness, strength, and how cute they look in pigtails. Same goes for ice skaters.

As I started this comment, I was going to make up ridiculous events that would favor women, but then an actual example occured to me. I'll leave it to the rest of you to recover other examples from the veldt.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:21 AM
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What would be the advantage to entering a woman in a men's competition?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:21 AM
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Is the deliberate-cheating angle totally manufactured?

The article mentioned one German in 1936, who lived as a girl for three years. I'm convinced that deliberate cheating isn't really a problem.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:22 AM
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25: Are there ever men who just want a cheap shot at a gold medal via competing against women?

Nope.

Or is the whole motivation really just that the idea of women with fuzzy genetics is titillating and lurid?

Yes. They used to strip all female athletes naked and make them walk in front of a panel of judges to assess if they were female enough. Now that's only done to athletes who are (a) very good and (b) not feminine-looking.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:22 AM
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21: That's the thing in the NYT where the Y chromosome isn't expressed in the phenotype, yeah.

On further thought, despite Dreger's comment about clitoral length, surely there are quantifiable physical differences between clitoris and penis, even if they're the same size. Per 18, maybe we could say if someone clearly has a penis, or had one removed, they're out; all other ambiguities are deemed irrelevant.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:23 AM
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SCMT, there are Ultimate tournaments that assign teams by zodiac sign.

That surprises me not at all.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:24 AM
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I can think of some where it's neutral (shooting, archery). Maybe equestrian favors women, similar to how jockeys are all really small?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:24 AM
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25: I believe some Soviet bloc (East German?) Olympics swimmers were found to have highly elevated levels of testosterone.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:25 AM
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SP!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:26 AM
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How come jockeys aren't women at things like the Kentucky Derby? Why aren't they little gymnast-sized teenagers?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:26 AM
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Because riding in the Kentucky Derby pays well and women aren't allowed?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:27 AM
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But like most sexist rationales, it's not exactly supported by reality.

Hey, if you're going to call me sexist, name the event where it would be advantageous to enter a woman and not a man? There are some sports that are skill-based, not strength based, but that doesn't get us to 'an advantage to enter a woman', just a neutral field.

I suppose some countries could have a lack of male talent in swimming and want to enter their fastest female swimmer as a man, but if she's fast enough to contend for a medal, she could do the same in the women's competition. And if she's not, there's no incentive to enter her in the race.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:27 AM
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There'd be no advantage to entering a woman in a competition against men; there might be one in entering a man in a contest for women.

This is only true since 1976, the last year that Roshambeau was an official Olympic sport.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:28 AM
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There have been female jockeys, but at least in the Kentucky derby they've all done really poorly.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:28 AM
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Which of course raises the question of why essentially all the events are still those that favor men.

HIS-story, baby!

I suspect building up institutional support for new events is hard.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:29 AM
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42: But presumably that's because they haven't been trained in sufficient numbers to eke out the really great ones, right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:30 AM
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Cala, name me an event where gender testing has detected a man disguised as a woman trying to get a medal competing against women.

Long-distance swimming has an advantage to women - it's an endurance sport requiring the kind of strength (and subcutaneous fat) that women have and men don't, mostly - though the gender line, as always, is fuzzy. But long-distance swimming isn't an Olympic sport.

Not unless they do a waterproof torch...


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:30 AM
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There have been female jockeys in the Kentucky Derby, people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:31 AM
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Let Jamie Lee Curtis compete in women's judo!

I'd totally put that bumper sticker on my car.

Hey, they have men's field hockey? I didn't know that!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:31 AM
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And pwned.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:32 AM
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44: Haven't there actually been a couple of pretty good female jockeys? And the auto sports should, ultimately, support women pretty well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:33 AM
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Also, Equestrian events at the olympics are not gender segregated, for people or horses.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:33 AM
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But long-distance swimming isn't an Olympic sport.

Well, we are talking about the Olympics.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's a pressing need for testing female athletes, but I'm trying to figure out why if testing female athletes for being men is stupid, testing male athletes for being women improves matters. Stupid plus stupid doesn't equal smart.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:33 AM
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43: I suspect building up institutional support for new events is hard.

I think that minor events get dropped all the time. I think that kayaking or something like that was going to take the place of one of the rowing events.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:33 AM
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Also, why is there no men's synchronized swimming? No wonder ogged quit blogging.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:34 AM
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They held some of the kayaking try-outs in the river behind our house.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:35 AM
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There are 16 medals awarded in Canoeing and Kayaking; by the standards of the olympics it is not minor.

Baseball, on the other hand, faces elimination from the games.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:35 AM
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45: There's the marathon, at least.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:36 AM
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Also there's no women's Canoeing; what the hey?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:36 AM
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Because it's boring?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:36 AM
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Fair point, Sifu.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:37 AM
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Oh my god, 58 was supposed to be to 55. Baseball is boring. Women canoers are great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:37 AM
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Seems like Badminton could be made mixed gender pretty easily.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:38 AM
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Baseball, on the other hand, faces elimination from the games.

And if they can't get rid of it, they'll make a mockery of it.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:38 AM
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What about team sports, where a given position on a men's team might be advantageous for a woman? In sailing, less body weight makes your boat go faster. Do they allow female cox for men's rowing events?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:39 AM
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Ping-pong! The sport of Kings.

Actually, come to think of it, bowling. Also the sport of Kings!


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:39 AM
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62: they're doing both, actually. I do like the new rule that any game that's still tied after the 12th must be played with exploding baseballs and a keg at second base.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:40 AM
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58. Can't be more boring than synchronised anything.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:40 AM
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Did you all know that there is a canoe museum in Peterborough, Ontario?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:40 AM
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Actually, come to think of it, bowling. Also the sport of Kings!

Given the alternate name for bowling, it should really be the sport of Queens too.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:41 AM
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Do they allow female cox for men's rowing events?

How strangely appropriate for the ambiguous gender thread.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:41 AM
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63: They probably do, but they may have minimum weight requirements where they add weight if you're significantly under.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:42 AM
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62- Wow, that's really dumb. Why not just have self-pitching or a HR derby to decide extra innings games?
How's that low hanging fruit taste, KR?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:43 AM
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why is there no men's synchronized swimming?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:43 AM
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I remember when the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival* instituted a "women born women"-only policy, aimed against pre-op and post-op MTFs, provoking controversy for years. They've since loosened up the policy, but some level of debate remains. (Boys up to 10 are allowed in the "Brother Sun" program.)

*If you haven't heard of it, you're obviously not a womon. In certain communities, one need refer to it only as "Michigan," as in, "Are you going to Michigan this year?"


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:43 AM
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Strange realization: There are several women's sports that I generally don't care to watch, absent college affiliation or a personal relationship (which can be pretty distant) with someone on the team. But with the Olympics, and with the exception of track and field, I think I prefer to watch (or at least know the outcome of) the women's events. I think it's because I expect the women's events to be more competitive, and I have the national affiliation to tie my interest.

Jingoism supports teh Feminism!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:45 AM
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I suspect the endless struggle against patriarchy building up institutional support for new events is hard.

So true, SCMT, so true.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:47 AM
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14th inning: T-ball!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:48 AM
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I love 72. Hey, you! I know you, I know you!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:48 AM
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75: Teh patriarchy is always hard. At least according to self-reporting.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:49 AM
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How's that low hanging fruit taste, KR?

Splendid, but I think I hurt my back bending down to pick it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:49 AM
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I believe that archery, marksmanship, and equestrian are mixed-gender. An oddly military group of events.

I think that billiards could be mixed-gender, but up until recently the atmosphere of the sport made that impossible. Not Olympic anyway.

As for men faking as women: when winning in the Olympics is a national policy goal, that could happen. It's not a matter of individual men wanting to do it.

Last I heard, the female advantage in long-distance swimming had been lost. Maybe some guys are taking estrogen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:53 AM
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80.2: I have a friend (you know who you are) who has a particular knack for doing color commentary on pool games.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:55 AM
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How about this: tell al Qaeda that if they blow up the Olympics, we'll let them have the Middle East. Won't that be two birds with one stone?


Obama doesn't use his cell any more, does he?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:59 AM
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As for men faking as women: when winning in the Olympics is a national policy goal, that could happen.

Or worth serious cash. I seem to remember that a male golfer threatened to sue the LPGA to force it to allow him to play. I don't remember hearing any more about it, so I assume he didn't go through with it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:00 PM
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83: Wasn't he strangled with his panties?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:01 PM
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That seems to be the case. The men are consistantly a bit faster, though nothing like the discrepencies in marathon times.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:01 PM
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Argh, 85 to this:

Last I heard, the female advantage in long-distance swimming had been lost.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:02 PM
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85 to 84.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:04 PM
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long-distance swimming isn't an Olympic sport

Actually, it is this year, for the first time. It's 10k and segregated by gender. Men's times are somewhat better than women's.

(Partly pwned, I know.)


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:04 PM
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Yeah, this is a tricky one because there are people who are gender-indeterminate. I'm glad no one's taking the position people took in the Pistorius case, that those people can just create their own event. Obviously the ideal way to solve this problem would be to not divide men's and women's events, and in a way I sort of wish we lived in a world where we could just do this and not worry about the fact that sure, some events would end up with very few women and some would end up with very few men competing (or winning). It might be kind of cool to have all events be open, and rather than first-second-third place, have overall winner-top man-top woman.

Re. jockeys and car racing, the reason there aren't many women at the top should be pretty obvious.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:06 PM
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Re. jockeys and car racing, the reason there aren't many women at the top should be pretty obvious.

I think the "poor driving skills" is just a myth.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:08 PM
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And if they can't get rid of it, they'll make a mockery of it.

W. T. F?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:09 PM
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Of course, 89 doesn't solve the problem of whether or not gender-indeterminate people would count as men or women.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:09 PM
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Re. jockeys and car racing, the reason there aren't many women at the top should be pretty obvious.

Car racing? OK, I'll buy that. But why horce racing? Teh patriarchy hasn't kept women from being overrepresented in dressage and jumping events, so how has it managed to keep them down in racing?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:10 PM
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"horce" s/b "horse", obvs.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:11 PM
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KR meant to type "whorce". GIT 'IM!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:12 PM
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I remember when the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival* instituted a "women born women"-only policy, aimed against pre-op and post-op MTFs, provoking controversy for years.

During the annual local BikeFest, they usually have women-targeted events, which are explicitly for women-identified individuals; I admired the inclusiveness, even as I chafed at being excluded.

Actually, that reminds me - and this fits in the Paisley thread as well - I often use AB's very girly bike to run to the store, partly because it has a basket. I usually get a few looks, but to me the funny part is that it's such an upright position - I get an involuntary urge to ring the bell, because it's that kind of bike.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:13 PM
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Sincere question: are there sports where "bigger, faster, stronger" aren't big advantages? For some reason--actually, no reason--I'm wondering about fencing, but I'm sure there are other sports worth considering.

so how has it managed to keep them down in racing?

Cultural assumptions and discomforts of people at the top, which, for example, didn't keep African-Americans out of football but did keep them out of the QB position.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:14 PM
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Dividing most sports by gender is a feminist position where I come from. The idea that women should be required to compete with men in, say, swimming or track or tennis or what-have-you is just another way of saying that women shouldn't be permitted to participate in high-level competition.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:17 PM
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93: Sigh. Race tracks are quite macho, blue-collar places; dressage and jumping, not so much.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:17 PM
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Obama doesn't use his cell any more, does he?

No, he's still answering my calls. Sorry, John. He's probably distancing himself from your hog farm. Running to the middle, you know.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:19 PM
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Horse-racing, billiards, and poker have traditionally been uber-sexist activities. Recently poker has been changing its image and Shannon Elizabeth is a pro, more or less. There have been a few successful women jockeys, and I believe that a few women are challenging in billiards.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:21 PM
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Of course, 89 doesn't solve the problem of whether or not gender-indeterminate people would count as men or women.

My first instinct is to say that in any sport where having a female genotype will normally produce phenotypical disadvantages, gender-indeterminate people should compete as male, and in any sport where having a female genotype will normally produce phenotypical advantages, compete as female. But that's unfair, because the reason the person is gender-indeterminate will also in some cases mean that they don't have the phenotype typical of their genotype. So then it becomes a matter of how finely grained the testing should be.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:22 PM
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98: Equality feminism rules, difference feminism droolz!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:22 PM
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Height works against you in gymnastics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:24 PM
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Oooh. I like AB's bike.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:24 PM
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99- The people attending tracks to bet on horses are a somewhat separate group from the people riding the horses. I don't think too many people go to a track and sigh, "Some day I'm going to ride one of those!"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:25 PM
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97: I'm surprised biking isn't closer than it is. Size isn't an advantage, and the upper body/lower body strength differential between men and women doesn't advantage men. I'm not clear what the physical difference is between men and women that puts men out in front in long-distance biking.

But I really don't know what I'm talking about -- I have the vague belief that there's no gender difference in strength per pound of muscle, so in sports (like biking) where there's a penalty for being too big and so the ideal size is a reasonably ordinary size for a woman to be, there shouldn't be much of a strength difference (at least in a sport where the fact that men carry more of their muscle in the upper body doesn't come into play). But I don't know if that's true; if someone points me to a reference saying that men tend to be stronger per pound of muscle mass, I'd believe it.

And of course a healthy woman is going to be carrying more weight as fat than a healthy man, but at the fitness levels of a top bicyclist, that shouldn't be all that much of a difference absolutely, should it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:26 PM
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Car racing? OK, I'll buy that.

Meet Danica Patrick, the only good thing about the entire idiotic "sport" of auto racing.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:26 PM
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104- But they make the men's and women's events different to favor each. I don't think many women have the upper body strength to do the rings.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:27 PM
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104: But are the men's events different than the women's events? I can't remember a woman doing the Iron Cross, for example, but I'm not much of a gymnastics fan.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:27 PM
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OT: I am currently enjoying the hell out the Apomerica mix.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:27 PM
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Race tracks are quite macho, blue-collar places

"[M]acho"? Not the first word that comes to mind when I think horse-racing tracks; I usually come up with stuff like "depressing as fuck", "seedy", "addicted", etc.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:28 PM
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Yeah, the problem for women competing with men in gymnastics is the difference in where men and women put their muscle. If man X and woman Y have exactly the same muscle mass, he's going to have more muscle in his arms, chest, and back, which will make him stronger for most of the key gymnastics moves. (Come to think of it, I don't know why this doesn't turn into an advantage for women vaulting. Does it?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:30 PM
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Obviously the ideal way to solve this problem would be to not divide men's and women's events, and in a way I sort of wish we lived in a world where we could just do this and not worry about the fact that sure, some events would end up with very few women and some would end up with very few men competing (or winning).

I don't think anyone has yet produced an example of the latter - of an event where, using the same rules and equipment, the best woman in the world could regularly beat the best man. So you'd have a couple of sports (target sports, identified above) that were even, a few where women might be able to compete but would virtually never win (perhaps fencing, and/or weight-classed events), and the vast majority where women couldn't compete at all - the fastest woman on earth couldn't qualify at all for track and field events against men (eg, .75 sec., or 8% slower, on the 100M dash). Even at non-elite levels, women can rarely compete against men in track events - in HS I was a mediocre runner, and even worse beyond 400M, but I could keep up with the State Finalist girls on the 800M.

I know that you recognize the flaws in the idea, B, but, seriously, it's nonsense. Sexual dimorphism wasn't invented by The Patriarchy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:32 PM
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As far as I know Renee Richards (surprised she has not come up) has been the most successful women athlete (she got to #20 world ranking) who underwent a "full" sex-change operation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:34 PM
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Sexual dimorphism wasn't invented by The Patriarchy.

Well sure, you'd say that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:34 PM
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108: Danica Patrick kind of sucks, but I can't tell if that's because auto racing sucks, being the only woman in a sport sucks, being a woman in that particular sport sucks, or she just sucks as an individual.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:34 PM
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117: I think "all of the above" is a possibility.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:36 PM
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Actually, on googling, vaulting still relies on upper-body power.

To make a sport where men didn't have a gender advantage (barring pure skill sports like rifle), you need to

1: Take size out of it. I think this means any sport where you're moving your bodyweight, so too much weight is a disadvantage.

2: All the power has to come from the lower body, because any upper-body sport advantages a man over a same-muscle-mass woman.

but

3: isn't running, because the wider hips are a biomechanical disadvantage.

I'm not coming up with anything but biking, and that doesn't seem to work.

What about a no (or very little) punching martial art? Are there any? With weight classes, that might work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:38 PM
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106: I'm talking about the people who work on the track, not the damn punters.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:39 PM
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I'm surprised biking isn't closer than it is.

All your points make sense, but I don't think it's just sexism - I think that, as with track events, world class women riders are easily beaten by national-class males.

My guesses would be that upper body strength is a part of riding - think about standing in the saddle to climb, something I've heard many women say is hard or even impossible for them - and that, possibly, core muscle strength, which is critical, may vary. I don't know about the second, though. My other guess is that matters like metabolism and muscle regeneration - obviously critical in a 2,000 mile race - vary by gender. Even if the difference is tiny among elite athletes, tiny differences are enough when you're talking about only 189 guys in the Tour de France. It's not hard to believe that the best 200 male cyclists in all of the Americas, Europe, and Australia are simply better than the very best woman cyclist.

That said, I think it's widely believed that someday a woman could ride in the Tour - the 163rd place rider isn't necessarily Superman. But there's definitely no evidence that it's an even sport.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:39 PM
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114: Women's gymnastics events (balance beam, floor routines), if opened up to male competitors, would probably reliably yield women winners.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:39 PM
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I've actually puzzled myself over biking now. Does anyone who knows from bike-racing know how close the top women are to the top men, and have a good theory as to why they're not equal?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:40 PM
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123 crossed with 121.

Is Olympic sailing co-ed? At the level where I raced, it was, and I don't see why it wouldn't be throughout -- it's not that strength isn't a big part of it, but only up to a point. If you're strong enough, you're strong enough, and after that it's all skill and brains.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:42 PM
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124: sailing has mens, womens, and mixed sports. It looks like windsurfing has gender classes, but the bigger boat events don't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:45 PM
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Sexual dimorphism wasn't invented by The Patriarchy.

No, of course not. But our idea about what does and doesn't count as sport does, as does our idea that sport is Important in a particular way.

Think of the distinction we've generally agreed on before--that men's sports are more "purely" about strength and speed, while women's sports are more about "aesthetics" and being "judged." That and the fact that there are a number of sports where the rules for men and women differ. Surely that suggests that, to at least some extent, the idea that men in general are better than women at sport has a lot to do with what we've defined as sport, no?

All that said, I think that to some extent sure: a purely egalitarian sporting world would mean that there'd be a lot fewer women at the top than there would be men. In *theory* this is not a big deal. In practice, of course, it is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:49 PM
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Probably we should just make baking, sewing, and laundry into Olympic events.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:49 PM
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122: Definitely. As I said earlier (ahem), that's a sport where men and women can't compete fairly against each other in some events only because the criteria for success are different. Men can do the rings, but I'd like to see them land some of those balance beam jumps and spins with their big ole man feet.

And, as documented by Blades of Glory, there's no reason not to have same-sex pairs in ice skating. Of course the straight boys wouldn't have a chance.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:50 PM
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Okay, what about things in the sliding-downhill category: skiing, bobsled, whatever. They're not co-ed, and I'm sure men's times are faster, but depending on the event I could see women competing level. (I don't know much about any of these events, but they seem like they might fit into the criteria I laid out in my 119.)

I must say that I'm not coming up with an event where gender differences advantage women; just events where they don't seem to be much of a disadvantage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:50 PM
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standing in the saddle to climb, something I've heard many women say is hard or even impossible for them

I find this hard to believe; crap, *I* can do this. That said, I find it *easy* to believe that an upper-body strength differential is a big deal in biking.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:51 PM
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123- The olympic track cyclcing event is 1km for men and 500m for women so you can't easily compare times from that. The men's winner did 1km in 1:00.711, the women's winner did 0.5km in 33.952.
The WR times in the only events of the same distance (200m flying start) are 9.865 for men and 10.831 for women. The record distances covered in 1 hr are 49.7 km for men and 46.065 for women. (There's also something called best hour performance, which allows more specialized equipment, with an even larger differential.) So the men still seem to be doing better.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:51 PM
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127: Well, baking, at least, is a county fair event. Of course, we think of county fair events as silly and frivolous and light, whereas Olympic events are Important and bring Peace between the Nations.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:52 PM
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Interesting, and might explain the bicycling thing, LB:

Female and male athletes seem to respond to training in a comparable manner. As the quantity or intensity of training increases, aerobic capacity (V02max) shoots upward, body fat tends to decrease, and performance improves, regardless of gender.
In spite of these parallel responses, males frequently achieve better performance times than similarly trained females. Part of the reason for this is that males routinely engage in a perfectly legal, natural form of 'blood doping'. The key male sex hormone - testosterone - promotes the production of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein found inside red blood cells, and testosterone also increases the concentration of red cells in the blood. The key female sex hormone, oestrogen, has no such effect. As a result, each litre of male blood contains about 150-160 grams of haemoglobin, compared to only 130-140 grams for females. The bottom line is that each litre of male blood can carry about 11 per cent more oxygen than a similar quantity of female blood.

I only skimmed the first bit, and I have no idea how credible any of this is, so....


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:53 PM
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LB, what about diving? I don't really get why men's and women's diving are separate events.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:53 PM
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133: I'm dubious--not about the science, but about the "key male hormone" and "key female hormone" things. Women have testosterone, and men have estrogen. The bit you quote makes it sound like that's not the case.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:56 PM
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127: Also, making microchips and carrying huge jugs of water on one's head for a few miles.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:56 PM
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Oh, diving's good. All lower body, not endurance so SCMT's blood-doping doesn't come into it... I don't see why that wouldn't be non-gendered.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:56 PM
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136 does raise a question of why carrying weight *over a distance* isn't a sport. Totally bizarre.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:58 PM
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Women have testosterone, and men have estrogen.

However, testosterone is the key male sex hormone, and estradiol (used in the mainstream media as "estrogen") is the key female sex hormone.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:58 PM
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131: Looked up a few time trial sites and there does generally seem to be a 5-10% differential between men and women. This is closer than the the differential for the running marathon. (This is a great graphic showing the evoution of men's and women's marathon times.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 12:59 PM
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138: 136 does raise a question of why carrying weight *over a distance* isn't a sport

World's Strongest Man (sexists!) has been there for years.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:00 PM
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The interesting thing from that graph is that the difference between the lines hasn't leveled out. While it makes perfect sense that sexual dimorphism means that at some point the best women are going to level off without getting to the performance level of the best men, we still don't know what the difference will be when that happens.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:02 PM
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This sport has spread such that there are US and American qualifying championships for the main event in Finland.

I don't know if any pair has ever competed with the roles of carryor and carryee reversed.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:02 PM
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So far we have diving, ice skating, and gymnastics. Are there any other sports about which we routinely assume that the male competitors are gay? That might be a way to find the next addition to the list.

(Meant to be funny, but it's weird to the extent it seems true. I wonder if this is related to conceptions of masculinity relating to "bigger, faster, stronger." This is not to say that "gay" is not big, fast, and strong, etc. Or that the assumptions about male competitors aren't wrong and homophobic. Or that women can't be gay. Or any other possible bad thing.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:03 PM
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Interesting. so the 2004 Gold Medalist in women's marathon would have won the 1948 Gold Medal in men's marathon.

The women's record marks are way, way below the gold medal-winning marks.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:04 PM
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142: Yes, clearly the difference ca. 1970 had a lot of "social construction" in it followed by a rapid drop from the women. And I realized that the recent improvements by women has brought it to about 10% difference. You are right still pretty dynamic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:05 PM
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Water jug relay races are too a summer camp sport.

For biking, lung volume ( actually rate of oxygen absorption per unit mass) and arcana of metabolic efficiency would matter. Looks like this person is an active researcher in exercise sex differences.

Birds and flying insects have many more mitochondria per cell than do other animals.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:06 PM
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Curling!
145- I know someone who ran Boston in 2:41. He was finishing with the top 10 women. He would have held the world record in 1910.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:07 PM
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145: Yeah, I looked at that site earlier hoping for something, but the women's world record is still eight minutes (or something) off the men's 400th best time.

I thought I'd been told that marathon was the place to look for a woman to eventually be top dog. Might still happen. As LB notes, there is more time trimming to be done on the women's times. The oxygen thing makes me wonder, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:08 PM
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The Olympic course rarely see records, those tend to be set at well-know favored courses (Chicago for example) with favorable weather. (God knows if anyone will even finish in the smog in Beijing ...).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:08 PM
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Birds and flying insects have many more mitochondria per cell than do other animals.

The constant injuries to Rocco Baldelli of the Tampa Bay Rays were recently explained as the result of a "mitochondrial abnormality" that makes him get fatigued at unexpected times.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:10 PM
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149: but the women's world record is still eight minutes (or something) off the men's 400th best time

Another indication though of the fact that there is probably more to go on the women's side is that the difference between times 1 and 500 for women is 12 minutes while it is 4 minutes for men.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:12 PM
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See, but the other thing about the marathon results over time (as has been pointed out for years) is that obviously men today aren't "naturally" much faster/stronger than men in 1948. Nor can we expect that shoe technology has made *that* much of a difference. So presumably a fair bit of the faster times is what, training practices? Which is totally flexible, and at least *suggests* that part of the difference between men and women might also be a matter of training practices rather than "natural" differences.

All of which is, I hope, completely obvious.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:14 PM
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Okay, what about things in the sliding-downhill category: skiing, bobsled, whatever. They're not co-ed, and I'm sure men's times are faster, but depending on the event I could see women competing level.

Bobsledding is basically sprinting followed by driving. The guys in the back pretty much keep their heads down after they're in the sled. The US has actually recruited world class sprinters with no sledding experience to round out the olympic bobsled teams. So I'm not sure that's going to work.

Downhill skiiers are advantaged by weight and core body strength, so I see some natural gender differential as well.

Luge I'm not so sure about.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:14 PM
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Yeah, I do have to believe that there's a big part of the gender differences in sports performance still that's attributable to the fact that it's just socially much more likely that a boy/man will devote himself obsessively to athleticism than a girl/woman will, so the pool of talent is deeper. Obviously, a big part of it is also the real physical dimorphism, but we're not at a point where the social stuff can be ignored yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:15 PM
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155: Not only that, but given the facts of sexual dimorphism, one wonders if maybe training techniques that are great for men might be suboptimal for women. Maybe women marathoners will have a sudden huge uptick in times when, I dunno, they start or stop adding weight training to their regimines, or develop some slight modification to their gaits, or something.

Admittedly this might be kind of a reach, but you get the gist of the idea, I hope.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:18 PM
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Women's gymnastics events (balance beam, floor routines)

Floor is done by both, but it's scored differently.

The main issue is that mens events & scoring is slanted towards raw weight to strength ratio, and upper body, whereas womens are slanted towards flexibility & balance.

People are selected at a pretty young age for the scoring, so just throwing together current top level athletes of both genders would be pretty silly. It's somewhat artificial, though. If you had the events and scoring equalized first, you'd optimize for different body types, closer to each other in many ways. Might be interesting.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:19 PM
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intersex really isn't that uncommon (somewhere between 1/1000 and 1/3000 iirc), certainly vastly more common than elite level athletes are. You'd expect some overlap.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:20 PM
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155: Certainly, we can't ignore it. But, in my very limited experience, the best athletes are the best athletes in high school, before and often enough without any real training. That is, I'm not sure to what extent training amounts to fine tuning in most sports.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:20 PM
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before and often enough without any real training.

While it might seem that way, the fact that current high school champions in most sports are putting forth what would have been world record times a century ago suggests that the training a modern high school coach is doing is genuinely much better than what world record holders used to get, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:25 PM
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158: God help me, I can't help feeling like "crap, man, now women get to be physically inferior to both men *and* intersexed people?"

I hate you all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:26 PM
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160: Actually, it's just that back in the day, only the effete rich got to go to school and play competitive sports. Now that burly hybrid working-class folks get to go to school too, naturally the overall performance levels are much higher.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:28 PM
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160: No doubt nutrition and the leisure to participate in sports are factors here, too.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:28 PM
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I am currently enjoying the hell out the Apomerica mix.

Hooray! I chalk up the fact that only guys ever post mixes here to our greater lung capacity and upper body strength.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:29 PM
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160: Probably, but there are other factors such as nutrition, medical care, and the number of potential atheletes. I've heard that the per capita number of gold medals won by country correlates pretty well to GDP (of course, I'm not sure if this is because more resources are devoted to training or living standards rise in the general population).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:29 PM
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161: Erm, not at all my point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:30 PM
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now women get to be physically inferior to both men *and* intersexed people

Transgendered people are average drivers.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:31 PM
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160: I guess I'm thinking of training as akin to the new Speedo suits: it might result in a lot of dropped times, but it helps all competitors with access to it the same amount, and it still requires an ungodly initial athletic ante. So you're still, for example, going to draft players to be trained on raw athletic potential. To what extent that raw athletic potential is hidden for high school women, I do not know.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:31 PM
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Doubly pwned. I demand genetic testing!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:32 PM
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167: Unless they're Asian, of course.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:33 PM
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But, in my very limited experience, the best athletes are the best athletes in high school

It would probably be foolish to assume that everyone has given it a shot who could, though. Particularly if it's socially discouraged. There may well be a pool of women who didn't really bother with sports but had a great potential. I think it's plausible that this is far less likely with men.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:33 PM
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168: Definitely agree that it's likely training has made roughly the same pool of people better a what they do. Identifying people & encouraging them is a different issue. It's really hard to reach the top of any sport without a lot of support along the way (some more than others)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:34 PM
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167: Well yes, and neither men nor most intersexed folks can have babies, which is obviously a physical superiority that trumps everything else. Still, though, we're talking about current social standards. Which SUCK.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:35 PM
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Further to 168: it might be interesting to look at women's results over time in communist countries. I don't have a sense of the extent to which sexism drove training, etc., but I seem to believe that there were govt. programs to identify the athletically talented at a very young age, and a tendency of communist women to do very well in competitions.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:35 PM
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171: I would guess that 3/4 or more of the guys here participated in organized sports as kids for at least a season or two, and that the proportion is much, much smaller for the women.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:35 PM
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There may well be a pool of women who didn't really bother with sports but had a great potential.

This may vary a fair bit by region (and class, etc.), which may be confusing me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:38 PM
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175: Yeah. Someone like me -- I'm bigger and stronger than average, albeit not extravagantly so -- would probably have somehow ended up in some kind of sports as a kid if I'd been a boy. As it was, I did basically nothing athletic (barring sailing, which isn't all that much of a physical sport) until I wandered into rowing in college.

Although maybe not -- I come from a jock family, and Dr. Oops is a jock, and I still didn't end up in any sports, which suggests that in my specific case, there's more going on than gender.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:39 PM
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I would guess that 3/4 or more of the guys here participated in organized sports as kids for at least a season or two, and that the proportion is much, much smaller for the women.

As enforcement of Title IX has improved, that discrepancy has shrunk quite a lot. Of course, if Bitch had her way, there wouldn't be any women's sports, Title IX would be meaningless, and we'd be back in the dark ages of women's sport.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:42 PM
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175: One of the most amazing realizations of my mature adulthood has been that I actually have a fairly athletic body type and *enjoy* physical activity, including team-type sports. When I was a kid I loathed p.e. (though I did swim team and rode horses). In retrospect, this was purely about being self-conscious; at the time I thought I was being self-conscious about being "bad at sports" but of course really I was just being self-conscious about being (1) a girl; and (2) not *knowing* how to do sporty things, because my folks didn't much value that stuff.

Which is one reason why I hassle PK so much about sports. Mr. B. and I are moderately active for people our age--blah blah we ride bikes--but neither of us is "sporty." Signing him up for sports things is one thing I can do to give him contact with adults who are really good at, and enjoy, things his parents don't do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:43 PM
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178 came out a bit more troll-y than I intended.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:43 PM
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178: I'm absolutely fiercely pro-Title IX, so bite me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:44 PM
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I realized you were joking, but you can still bite me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:44 PM
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As enforcement of Title IX has improved, that discrepancy has shrunk quite a lot.

I don't think it's shrunk as much as you'd think by looking at team memberships. (Note: Not talking active sexism here, just social differences around gender.) I don't have data, but my sense of high school basketball, for example, is that there are a whole lot of boys who play some, for fun, and the ones who are good at it try out for teams. For girls, on the other hand, there are a whole lot fewer girls who are playing on their own, so the ones trying out for the teams aren't the self-selected best of the lot, they're everyone who's interested.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:47 PM
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The main issue is that mens events & scoring is slanted towards raw weight to strength ratio, and upper body, whereas womens are slanted towards flexibility & balance.

Seriously, I really did say this before everyone else, way back in 29. Does no one slavishly read and think deeply about my every comment? Sexists.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:47 PM
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I'm wondering about fencing, but I'm sure there are other sports worth considering.

Fencing's weird. Being some combination of bigger, faster and stronger usually helps, but there is a lot more variation in body types, even at relatively high levels. Some of this is surely that the sport is not a money sport, but I think part of it is that if you train to play to your strengths, you can get away with lacking in other areas.

Being tall is usually helpful, but it also means you have more target area. Being small usually means you move a little quicker, but it means you have less reach. &c.

Men and women generally bout each other in practice.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:48 PM
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men nor most intersexed folks

is this true? There's a lot of variants, I don't know what the relative numbers look like.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:49 PM
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175: But likely a much higher proportion than in earlier decades. Do any 10-year-olds not play soccer these days?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:49 PM
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184: Ah, I just got here. You can't expect me to read every comment can you?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:49 PM
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There may well be a pool of women who didn't really bother with sports but had a great potential.

Anecdata, but I didn't do anyting athletic until college, where I ended up fencing pretty seriously at a moderately high level. I probably exhausted the potential I did have, but I do wonder what would have happened had I realized I could do things like run and be strong and hit people with swords when I was ten or eleven.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:51 PM
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I do wonder what would have happened had I realized I could do things like run and be strong and hit people with swords when I was ten or eleven.

Just a guess: You'd be serving hard time in the state pen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:53 PM
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Men and women generally bout each other in practice.

"Bout" is used as a verb in the fencing subculture? Freaks.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:58 PM
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188: No, just all of my comments.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:58 PM
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Er, I mean, delightful and admirable freaks. (They have swords, you know.)


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:58 PM
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185: One of my only memories of total athletic triumph was breaking a foil on Billy Chouluka to win the class tournament in highschool fencing class. No one was any good at it, so we were all level on pre-existing skills, and I had three inches of arm length on all the girls in the class.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 1:59 PM
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For girls, on the other hand, there are a whole lot fewer girls who are playing on their own, so the ones trying out for the teams aren't the self-selected best of the lot, they're everyone who's interested.

I think this might have changed a fair bit, even from the time when you were in high school to the time you were twenty five. I am pretty certain of it in some other, similar, sports, and I can't think why it wouldn't be true for basketball.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:00 PM
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I read your 29, Sir Kraab. Men are judged on artistry in figure skating, but without as much focus on flexibility. The elements are otherwise similar. Gymnastics is a judged sport, but not one where costuming or pigtails or artistry comes into it. (Sure, you have to keep your toes pointed, but there's nothing like emoting how you feel about the vault.)

Gymnastics is one of the few sports where the sport itself is tailored around what the gender competing on it can do better. It would be interesting to see what would happen with a complete mixed-gender mixed-apparatus meet, but I fear that what would happen would be that the winners of the individual events would sort out along gender lines, and the all-around winner would be performing at a much lower level, since some of the goals (flexibility & balance) would conflict with some of the others (massive upper body strength.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:01 PM
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What about a no (or very little) punching martial art?

Olympic TKD has in effect almost no punching, but a lot of power is generated from the core so I would guess men would have some advantage.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:02 PM
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I'm sure it's changed some since I was a kid, but looking at the parks my kids are playing in it's still a factor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:02 PM
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You people seem to take it as a given that participation in sports confers some automatic advantage on boys. Well I've got news for you: some boys are no good at sports, and while a girl who sucks at sports or isn't interested can get by socially in school, for boys you're just a freak. Sometimes I feel like I wouldn't have found myself single, unemployed, and suicidally depressed if I had been able to make the team in at least one sport. But no, I suffered the humiliation of having a foil broken over me *by a girl* in fencing class, and it's been all downhill from there.


Posted by: Billy Chouluka | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:04 PM
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197: Where's Megan when you want her? She should know firsthand how close to level men and women in the same weight classes are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:04 PM
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Seriously, who has fencing in high school? And is that where you learned to sail?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:06 PM
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62: Real runners or ghost runners?


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:07 PM
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201: We had PE fencing. Nothing big (they did start a team and league after I left), but I'm not sure why it should seem so snooty. A bunch of rusty foils and some padded jackets. Costs less than a basketball gym or football gear.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:08 PM
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201 gets it right.

I was under the impression that roughly 99.9% of people who did fencing in college had never seen or experienced the sport before.

Also, Wikipedia finds no mention of people named "Chouluka". Chauluka seems to be a name in Zimbabwe and Malawi, while Chiluka is Telugu.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:08 PM
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I was under the impression that roughly 99.9% of people who did fencing in college had never seen or experienced the sport before

My college didn't even have fencing. The closest school as far as I can tell is 250 miles away.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:10 PM
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203: Might be more convincing if you took off the monocle.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:10 PM
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No, sailing was in the summers -- I took lessons at the 'yacht club' down the road from my parents' summer place. (It was called a yacht club, but all the boats were 13 feet long and fiberglass.) And later I crewed for a guy with a J-24.

Highschool was funny - my high school was affiliated with a local college, so while our athletic facilities were pathetic, we got to take the subway to the college and take some gym classes there, which is where the fencing came in. And we took swimming in the college pool, and so on. I also took a bowling class once, which involved no actual instruction -- the school just got a bunch of lanes at the big alley in Madison Square Garden and we all went bowling once a week for a semester.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:11 PM
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204: The name was Polish -- big blond kid. I have no idea how to spell it right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:12 PM
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You people seem to take it as a given that participation in sports confers some automatic advantage on boys.

In the scope of this conversation, the only question was if it confers and advantage to later athletic performance

who did fencing in college had never seen or experienced the sport before.
This is probably true, but I don't know how relevant it is. A lot of baseline athletic skill is transferable, an basic conditioning is a plus. Starting a new sport at 21 having done sports all your life is a lot different than starting at 21 having never done anything like it. I don't know how much long term effect this has in general, but certainly for some sports it's pretty much all over by college age. In others, it's probably really difficult to catch up from a late start.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:13 PM
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207: "Summer place"?!?! Are you sure you're not a seekrit Republican? It's not really "Lizardbreath, III," is it?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:14 PM
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209.1: Please consult standpipe's blog for an important update.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:16 PM
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I was under the impression that roughly 99.9% of people who did fencing in college had never seen or experienced the sport before.

Depends on the school. At the programs that win, the starters have probably competed nationally or internationally. These programs usually have pretty significant walk-on numbers, too, who usually get good enough to beat on the non-winning program's secondary starters. The non-winning programs usually have one or two really good fencers per weapon, sometimes less.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:17 PM
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210: We were always comfortably upper-middle. The summer place is a house on a 50'x150' lot, about a quarter mile from a beach owned by our block association, with the yacht club another half mile down the road. While the North Fork's gotten expensive since my parents' bought the place in the early eighties, it was pretty cheap then.

So, we were never anything like poor, but not Alameida-class old money.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:18 PM
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211 yeah, caught that too late


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:18 PM
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Most of the guys and gals who walked on to our team had done some kind of sport before college: tennis, running, softball, dance, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:18 PM
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I'm a soccer player!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:19 PM
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I don't think the world will end if they let transwomen in to the olympics. There just aren't enough olympic caliber transwomen to make this a big deal.

Renee Richards is an interesting case:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renee_Richards

the New York Supreme Court ordered the US open to overturn a women-born-women rule to allow her to play. She had an OK career, but by no means dominated the competition. She apparently wasn't a pariah either; she was Ilie Nastase's mixed doubles parter for a while.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:20 PM
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Starting a new sport at 21 having done sports all your life is a lot different than starting at 21 having never done anything like it.

This is true. Knowing how to train is huge. The first time I ever got in decent shape, for rowing in college, was awful -- I just didn't know what being tired or sore really felt like, and working through it was very difficult. I've been in and out of shape since then, but it's never been anything like as hard as the first time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:25 PM
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I was under the impression that roughly 99.9% of people who did fencing in college had never seen or experienced the sport before.

My college team was about 90% walk-on and yet very competitive -- I had the distinct impression though that we were very much the exception. Still it took a good solid year for beginners to even have a shot at making the first team, and were rarely much of a match for the kids who had club or high-school experience.


Posted by: codify | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:25 PM
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We were always comfortably upper-middle. The summer place is a house on a 50'x150' lot,

Our house had a lot about half that size (the summer place was a plastic tent out back)


Posted by: U. Ward. Lee-Mobile | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:25 PM
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220: Heh. Depending on the markers you pick, I can make myself sound like a bloated plutocrat or a member of the proletariat without working too hard. I spent the summers learning to sail at our beach house; Daddy was a professional; and my parents paid for college without financial aid. On the other hand, neither of my parents nor any of my grandparents graduated from college, two of my grandparents and one of my parents were unionized manual laborers, I went to urban public schools through high school, I grew up in a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment and didn't have my own room until my sister went to college.

"Bloated plutocrat" is a fairer representation than "proletarian", but it's funny how much you can swing the impression by picking your facts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:40 PM
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196: I'm not seriously proposing no gender distinctions in gymnastics or ice skating, but I do think that the differences in judging aren't tailored only to physical differences between men and women. Men don't do rhythmic gymnastics or synchronized swimming (both of which I think are stupid anyway 'cause I'm sexist) and would likely lose to women if they did and were judged on the same criteria. No one's out there trying to recruit tiny, unusually flexible boys to compete against tiny, unusually flexible girls.

Evaluation of the "artistry" in men's and women's gymnastics and ice skating isn't the same. Flexibility aside, men don't do as much flowing arms stuff, aren't generally as graceful. If there's a sport where changing the rules somehow would benefit women instead of men, I sincerely doubt they'd do it. It's all about women getting "up" to men's level.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:40 PM
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Bring on the intersexed transhuman Olympics!

[I haven't read the thread.]


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:41 PM
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No one's out there trying to recruit tiny, unusually flexible boys

So you never saw the very special Different Strokes in which Dudley learned to play King Neptune?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:45 PM
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"Bloated plutocrat" is a fairer representation than "proletarian", but it's funny how much you can swing the impression by picking your facts.

See also "O'Reilly, Bill".


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:45 PM
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218:This is true. Knowing how to train is huge. The first time I ever got in decent shape, for rowing in college, was awful -- I just didn't know what being tired or sore really felt like, and working through it was very difficult. I've been in and out of shape since then, but it's never been anything like as hard as the first time.

There is actually medical research that shows the first time really is the hardest time. I think it has to do with the neurons hooking up in the cerebellum or something like that.

So getting little Johnny or Janie into sports, at least a little, is a good idea. since you'll be lugging your body around your entire life you might as well make the best of it. Get them wired while they are young. That's my motto.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 2:54 PM
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>but it's funny how much you can swing the impression by picking your facts.

Isn't it!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:04 PM
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221: Jim Fallows wrote a passage in his book More Like Us that I have always identified with:

I remember feeling as if I had crossed some permanent divide the afternoon I first showed up in Harvard Yard. It was not the change in my life that impressed me, it was the change in the surroundings. The narrow road that ran through the Yard was jammed with station wagons and big sedans, belonging to families who had driven their sons to college-like most students from the West Coast, I'd flown out by myself. The looks of the cars, the parents, even the gear being lugged into the dorms suddenly hinted at a vastly greater range of social stations than I'd even guessed existed. Lacrosse sticks, skis, and squash rackets came out of the trunks. Car windows, even then, bore stickers from prep schools. Fathers wearing sweaters and hornrimmed glasses showed their sons where they'd stayed as freshmen in the Yard, before the war. Mothers greeted friends they'd known for years, from private schools and summer clubs, speaking in accents I'd never heard. It wasn't that I resented this whole, dense world in which I had no place. On the contrary, I had a perverse pride in what I started to think of as a log cabin upbringing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:05 PM
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228: Calvin Trillin's Remembering Denny is funny along the same lines; he was quite startled, coming from Missouri, to have as his roommate Eberhard Faber, scion of the pencil fortune.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:08 PM
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I don't care for some of the authors' "editorial" comments, but this series of three blog posts at The Science of Sport are a good overview of some of the areas covered in this thread.
1) Women vs Men Part I: World record evolution (covers the marathon).
2) Women vs Men Part II: The physiology of difference (covers track records at all distances).
3) Women vs Men Part III: Women find their "niche" in longer distances (study of non-elite runners)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:32 PM
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Where's the Amerithrax thread?


Posted by: Jonathan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:36 PM
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197: Where's Megan when you want her? She should know firsthand how close to level men and women in the same weight classes are.

Well hello!

Yeah, see, this is why I was so shocked to find out how much stronger men are than women. We used to do this kicking drill, where you do waist-height kicks for speed for a minute. The spread was tiny - the fastest man did 111 kicks/minute. The slowest woman on the team (me) did 104 k/m. For quickness at least, the entire difference was within a few percent, and the rest of the men and women were mixed up in the middle.

For strength? Kicking to the body for people of comparable weight? I honestly couldn't say. Christina Bailey (fought at 220-230lbs) kicked the shit out of me, and so would a guy fighter her size. Either would land hard enough that I couldn't tell if one were stronger. For the men and women who fought at about 130lbs? I dunno. Maybe men kicked harder, but maybe they were just more aggressive.

I thought that on the college team, the men and women were evenly matched enough that I was pissed that the default was to spar within genders. I'd have liked to have had access to the four or five other people who were close to my weight instead of sparring the same few women.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:38 PM
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That makes sense. It's funny -- I thought it was wildly goofy of you not to have internalized how much stronger guys tend to be, given that you're a jock and all, but TKD (and I suppose Ultimate) not being reliant on the upper body strength really does make it make sense.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:42 PM
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I probably exhausted the potential I did have, but I do wonder what would have happened had I realized I could do things like run and be strong and hit people with swords when I was ten or eleven.

I have a theory supported by nothing but my own observation that doing a sport during puberty modifies your body for that sport. (It is sorta hard to separate this from the part about how they have likely also done it for decades, but I still hold to this belief.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:45 PM
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FWIW, coaches of figure skaters tend to agree: you have to build the triple axel into the growth plate, or it's not going to happen.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:47 PM
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Dude, I asked around the Ultimate scene, and heard similar estimates from people. I was very gratified.

The spread for quickness isn't twice. It is closer to ten percent. The spread for speed isn't twice. The most able men aren't throwing the disc twice as far as the most able women. So I truly didn't realize that the spread for strength was twice. I still haven't gotten over it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:49 PM
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I don't know about modifying your body, but I think there are some physical skills that you learn as a kid/teen or it's very very hard to pick up afterwards. I've given up on ball sports -- as an adult I'm probably at least somewhat fitter/stronger than average, but I never played any kind of ball at all as a kid, and attempts always leave me confused and feeling pathetic and vaguely motion sick. Which is a shame -- I'd like to be able to combine exercising with playing something, I like games and I like competing, but I don't see it happening at this point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:51 PM
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The most able men aren't throwing the disc twice as far as the most able women.

Here comes that pesky fluid flow physics again...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:51 PM
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Oooh, I love hearing support for things I already think.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:51 PM
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Megan can now proceed to suggest ultimate to LB, 'cause there's no ball.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:52 PM
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Maybe. I've never gotten the hang of throwing a frisbee straight either.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:53 PM
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I do occasionally daydream about the monthlong Warm and Affirming Yet Athletically Serious Basketball Camp For Previously Non-Playing Middle Aged Womyn; if someone sent me a flyer for the WAASBCFPNPMAW I'd seriously consider it. Basketball looks so convenient, and I already mostly know the rules.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:57 PM
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but I think there are some physical skills that you learn as a kid/teen or it's very very hard to pick up afterwards.

I know people say this about playing the piano or learning sports, but do adults really carve out time for weekly tennis lessons or piano lessons and still find that their learning curve is worse than a kid's?

What I mean is, 8-year-olds suck at piano and tennis. It takes them a few years to know what they're doing, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:58 PM
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I'd trust LB to have considered any obvious recommendations. But if she were here, a disproportionate number of my suggestions for things we could do would include going to throw a frisbee.

(By disproportionate, I mean that instead of suggesting it two-thirds of the time, I'd suggest it four-fifths of the time. The rest of the suggestions are for food.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:59 PM
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I went 'downhill biking' yesterday, and the ratio of men to women was maybe 5 to 1. This might just be because women are smarter.

I could see them making this an Olympic sport some time in the not-so-distant future.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 3:59 PM
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do adults really carve out time for weekly tennis lessons or piano lessons and still find that their learning curve is worse than a kid's?

It's hard to say. Little kids playing sports have a steep learning curve, but no one cares because it's adorable. Adults do recover more slowly from workouts and injury, which has to affect learning time. Parents of little kids who take lessons while their kids have group lesson will find themselves slowly learning crossovers while their kids are going for their first double.

But it's hard to say because there's the issue of whether the adult dedicates enough time to it, whether there's appropriate training for an adult, whether there's enough other competitors to challenge oneself, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:03 PM
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234: I have a theory supported by nothing but my own observation that doing a sport during puberty modifies your body for that sport

That matches my experience with swimming as well. I came relatively late to the sport (I was about 14) and I only really ever could do the crawl effectively (which is the on I ralready knew how to do and is the most forgiving and least "technical" of the strokes), and even then I still relied mostly on power and stamina. Even working on butterfly over the next 5-6 years, I never really put that one together right. I would chalk this up to just big old clumsy me, but it matches my observations of other latecomers. (Will probabaly has more data points.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:03 PM
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Little kids playing sports have a steep learning curve, but no one cares because it's adorable.

Shallow learning curve?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:07 PM
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Oh, diving's good. All lower body

Um, have you ever seen Greg Louganis? The man could pose for Harlequin covers. It's not like diving is judged on how far you dive - it's the ability to twist and turn your body in air, redistributing momentum from your jump. It's all about overall body strength.

So presumably a fair bit of the faster times is what, training practices? Which is totally flexible, and at least *suggests* that part of the difference between men and women might also be a matter of training practices rather than "natural" differences.

All of which is, I hope, completely obvious.

If by obvious you mean, you know, wrong. Elite female athletes have access to elite training methods. It's possible, but very unlikely, that there's merit in your idea about different training regimens being better suited for males and females, but I've never read even a hint of this (except insofar as certain specific exercises are more practical for average members of one sex or the other). The fitness columnist at Bicycling magazine is a woman; her advice isn't sex-specific, nor is she in some sort of girly ghetto. FWIW, the training regimens she offers aren't tailored by sex, either - it's not "8 reps for the men, 6 for the ladies," but that's because the training is in terms of your capacity - "30 seconds at 90% of your VOmax."

The one relevant thing that sports people have recently realized is the importance of flexibility training, but it's in addition to, not instead of, strength training.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:08 PM
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246 -- My wife has taken up a serious sport in her 50s -- outrigger canoe racing. She can even evangelize it, if anyone's interested.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:10 PM
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244: BTW, I'm distraught that Pie Contest is on my birthday and I'm on the wrong coast. (Is it always the same time of year, or do you rotate seasons so as to spread the seasonally advantaged pies around? Come to think of it, what am I talking about. You don't have seasons in California.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:10 PM
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You don't have seasons in California.

NoCal has two: green grass season and brown grass season.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:11 PM
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Come to think of it, in the recent OC race in Norfolk, a woman came in second in singles. A Canadian. Happy to have beaten "a bunch of the boys."


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:12 PM
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One of my big revelations playing soccer at some point, maybe in high school?, was that playing better is harder work. That getting your mind in the game enough to execute moves faster or anticipate something and start moving earlier, and hang on longer, largely requires trying harder than you'd been trying. (I mean, it gets easier as it gets automatic, but it's always more work, in some sense.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:13 PM
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Um, have you ever seen Greg Louganis? The man could pose for Harlequin covers.

Samoan, at least part, isn't he? But the kind of muscle you need to rotate your body as you fall through space still doesn't seem like the "more is better" sort of thing where men would definitely have an advantage. Like, in gymnastics, women don't do the rings -- are there dives that women don't do because they don't have the strength? It's possible, I don't know jack about diving, but it seems unlikely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:13 PM
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You don't have seasons in California.

That's crazy talk. In order, the year goes from

citrus season
berry season
stonefruit season
apples and fruits starting with p - pear, persimmon, pomegranate

Of course there are seasons. I always hold Pie Contest in late summer. Still get berries, stonefruit in full production, beginning of apples if you want.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:26 PM
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No, of course not. But our idea about what does and doesn't count as sport does, as does our idea that sport is Important in a particular way.

Think of the distinction we've generally agreed on before--that men's sports are more "purely" about strength and speed, while women's sports are more about "aesthetics" and being "judged." That and the fact that there are a number of sports where the rules for men and women differ. Surely that suggests that, to at least some extent, the idea that men in general are better than women at sport has a lot to do with what we've defined as sport, no?

All that said, I think that to some extent sure: a purely egalitarian sporting world would mean that there'd be a lot fewer women at the top than there would be men. In *theory* this is not a big deal. In practice, of course, it is.

Again, not "a lot fewer." None. A footrace, of any distance, between the fastest 1000 humans would not feature a single woman, and never will. Insofar as "race" means "seeing who's faster," it's inevitably a big deal.

I know you have this whole theory about the societal construction of "sport," but I really think you're in the weeds on this. I have trouble with the concept that the footrace was invented as a means of excluding women. I understand that the idea that Sport is Important does, to an extent, come from patriarchy - athletic contests like footraces and ball games are male-favoring, and therefore valued in a away that female-favoring activities aren't. But since many women like to participate in Sport, I don't see the point in telling them, "Welcome to Last Place. Get used to it."

One last thought: in sports that are well-suited to female strengths, the women's events are usually esteemed higher than the men's equivalents. Talk about the Olympics, and the main events are track and gymnastics, figure skating and skiing. In track and skiing*, the men are more highly esteemed - World's Fastest Human and all that - but in gymnastics and figure skating, it's the women. Setting aside the girls in little boxes issue, I think that reflects a subconscious recognition that those events are the ones where female bodies perform best. That last bit is a bit veldt-like, but still.

* skiing being the weakest example, but I think it's the definitive strength/speed sport of the winter Olympics


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:28 PM
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And Happy soon Birthday.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:28 PM
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But the kind of muscle you need to rotate your body as you fall through space still doesn't seem like the "more is better" sort of thing where men would definitely have an advantage.

But then why did Louganis look, not like a Greek god, but like Herakles? Since a huge part of diving is small splashes, the only reason to be bulky is if it helps otherwise.

Oh, and I just remembered: some dives start with handstands. So upper body strength.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:29 PM
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But the kind of muscle you need to rotate your body as you fall through space still doesn't seem like the "more is better" sort of thing where men would definitely have an advantage.

Instead of strength-to-weight, it's strength-to-moment-of-inertia. I don't see the two as being wildly different.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:34 PM
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Do any 10-year-olds not play soccer these days?

Mine. He did one season of it when he was five or so, but didn't care for it. He's too busy with hockey (and endless hockey camps in the off-season) to do any other sports, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:35 PM
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Elite divers, male and female, are freakishly strong and spend long hours in the weight room working on core muscles as well as limbs. True, they usually eschew bulk, but they are, nonetheless, scary physical specimens. As are all competitive athletes. Except maybe golfers, and even they have exceptional hand-eye coordination and nerves of steel.

And yes, it's true that I have idea to whom I'm responding. Carry on.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:36 PM
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260: Instead of strength-to-weight, it's strength-to-moment-of-inertia. I don't see the two as being wildly different.

I could be wrong, but I think the magnitudes are different enough that upper-body strength isn't going to be the limiting factor for a diver. It doesn't seem to be a limiting factor in tumbling moves in gymnastics, which are the same thing, right?

But then why did Louganis look, not like a Greek god, but like Herakles?

I checked. The dude's Samoan (half). What else is he going to look like?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:40 PM
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257: I agree with the first part of your comment, to the extent that in most events the Co-Ed Olympics would be all male, but I think the last part is wrong. They're popular because they feature cute young women doing dainty things in skimpy clothing. They are athletic and muscular as hell, but because they're so tiny, they still look traditionally feminine.

Plus, both of those sports used to be a lot less athletic for women than they are now.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:43 PM
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At the pool last weekend, I pulled up at the end of the lane, reached for the edge and my hand landed on someone's foot. It was a beautiful Islander guy, and from my angle, it was just like a movie panning shot, where my view went up his body and got better and better.

I would like all pools to have this feature.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:46 PM
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But the kind of muscle you need to rotate your body as you fall through space still doesn't seem like the "more is better" sort of thing where men would definitely have an advantage.

More strength per pound might be better. I don't know much about diving. There aren't any obvious differences besides number of dives competed, but I don't know if the best male divers and the best female divers have different repertoire. It wouldn't surprise me: there's a lot of power in the initial jump.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:46 PM
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I could be wrong, but I think the magnitudes are different enough that upper-body strength isn't going to be the limiting factor for a diver.

What do you mean by limiting factor?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:47 PM
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There aren't any obvious differences besides number of dives competed, but I don't know if the best male divers and the best female divers have different repertoire.

They do.

It wouldn't surprise me: there's a lot of power in the initial jump.

It does.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:52 PM
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This got long quick, but has anyone linked to this yet?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:52 PM
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Most California fruits are delicious, but there is no California apple season, because California apples suck.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:54 PM
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Well, I don't know what I'm talking about, to start with. But as a matter of physics, what you're doing with your muscles when you're tumbling (either for gymnastics or diving), is assuming a series of positions -- you start off standing upright, then you jump and jackknife into a pike, and so on, and the moving your center of gravity around makes you tumble. It takes a certain amount of strength to assume any position (you're using your muscles, after all), but if you're just thinking about the position you end up in, what limits people there is flexibility, not strength.

Where the strength comes into it is in getting into the various positions quickly -- the faster you can move from one position to the next, the better you can control your spin, the more revolutions you can do, and so on. And clearly you need strength to get the speed, but it's not clear to me that past a certain point more strength will get you more speed -- I'm not a jock, but the fastest people aren't always the strongest, right?

It seems to me that there's a fair chance that the best diver isn't particularly likely to be the (upper body) strongest guy in the competition, or that once you're all quite strong, that who's literally stronger is going to have much to do with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:56 PM
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Basketball looks so convenient, and I already mostly know the rules.

I recommend it.

I started playing basketball as an adult and I have compared to any other activity that I have done as an adult, it the one that I have spent the most time doing while being bad at it.

I'm somewhat proud of that, but it also makes me daunted to think of it as an example of how long it takes to develop proficiency in something started as an adult.

I'm still not particularly good, but I had to keep playing for years, before I was anything other than terrible (never playing frequently). In particular after the first year, I got to a point where I could shoot decently when I was practicing on the court by myself, but it took until year four or five to get to the point that I could semi-reliably hit an open jump shot in a game situation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:58 PM
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269: Someone linked it a while back. I can't see that the athletic capacity of someone born and matured XY who went on hormones and is now socially female has much to do with the athletic capacity of someone born and matured XX.


Posted by: Lizardbreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 4:59 PM
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Except maybe golfers

Golf is a game, not a sport. There are even golf-lovers who will admit this.

And LB, you should take up basketball. There are a handful of skills to learn and, if you play with people who are a lot better than you,* you don't even have to use most of them.

*Often the case in my life.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:01 PM
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Gymnasts use momentum to create spin and twisting force; divers have to get all of it from a single, standing jump (or handstand).

Have you ever stood on a bed or trampoline and done a standing tumble? It requires noticeable core strength. The same tumble with a running start requires little more than a bit of courage.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:04 PM
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Also, Louganis is a stud, and he had one of the great performances in Olympic history after he hit his head, but we shouldn't let that blind us to the fact that diving is rhythmic gymnastics with water and much shorter routines.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:08 PM
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Where the strength comes into it is in getting into the various positions quickly -- the faster you can move from one position to the next, the better you can control your spin, the more revolutions you can do, and so on. And clearly you need strength to get the speed, but it's not clear to me that past a certain point more strength will get you more speed -- I'm not a jock, but the fastest people aren't always the strongest, right?

Right. Improving athletic performance is a complex multivariate optimization problem. Whether adding upper body strength is worth it depends on what you have to give up to do so. There's almost never a point where you're "strong enough."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:09 PM
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For all these reasons and more, netball should be an Olympic sport.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:09 PM
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One last thought: in sports that are well-suited to female strengths, the women's events are usually esteemed higher than the men's equivalents.

It's weirder than that, I think. Women's tennis used to be much more enjoyable than men's tennis, because increasing male power ruined the game. Women had rallies long after men stopped doing so. Then some woman--I want to blame one of the Williams' sisters,* but I think there was actually someone before them--started crushing people with power, and now women's tennis is nearly as painful as men's tennis.

You couldn't really say that female strengths were better suited to the sport. Power helped both. But it also ruined the game.

* I think the fastest serve, 129 mph, hit this year at Wimbledon, in men's or women's, was hit by Venus.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:14 PM
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You couldn't really say that female strengths were better suited to the sport. Power helped both. But it also ruined the game.

Practically any sport that has been around for more than 50 years, involves multiple people interacting with each other, and has a defined field of play would benefit from the field of play becoming bigger to compensate for increased strength levels.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:18 PM
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280: Maybe that's right. A bigger court would just be the final nail in the serve and volley game, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:21 PM
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re: 200

I spar women all the time. We don't segregate by gender or by weight in my club. I can spar 120lb women and 240lb men in the same sparring session.

At club level, I'd maybe lose on a pure points match against the best woman* in our class, I think. It'd be pretty evenly matched, but I certainly wouldn't rule out her beating me.

The minute the controlled contact rules were removed, obviously, that'd immediately change.

* not including the instructor, who is a woman, and has medals at European and World level and who'd beat me in a points match, no problem.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:24 PM
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Then some woman--I want to blame one of the Williams' sisters,* but I think there was actually someone before them--started crushing people with power

Lindsay Davenport was all about the power serve. Damn US hegemony.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:50 PM
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I can't see that the athletic capacity of someone born and matured XY who went on hormones and is now socially female has much to do with the athletic capacity of someone born and matured XX.

Except that anecdotally, the article makes it sound like taking the hormones for the gender of your choice is possibly a fair way to level the playing field for a transsexual.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:50 PM
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273: Heebie kinda beat me to it, but the article implies (without proving, mind you) that it is the hormones that make most of the difference, not the chromosomes.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 5:59 PM
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I want to blame one of the Williams' sisters,* but I think there was actually someone before them--started crushing people with power

I second 279, but Monica Seles is the one to blame, I think, before the Williamses. Women's tennis used to be a lot of fun to watch, before Seles and Davenport &c. Martina Hingis in particular had a great game.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:02 PM
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Also, now that I'm reading some of the early thread: The article also implies that the social theory (women don't train as hard or are somehow socially disadvantaged) is also untrue because it's really hard to see how that would have changed for this woman, especially because her performance started to suffer in the period when she was taking hormones, but not socially out yet.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:08 PM
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The article also implies that the social theory (women don't train as hard or are somehow socially disadvantaged) is also untrue because it's really hard to see how that would have changed for this woman, especially because her performance started to suffer in the period when she was taking hormones, but not socially out yet.

I really don't mean to say anything negative about the woman in the article. But she's clearly, by virtue of being trans, someone with a fairly strong mental/emotional investment in the idea of being female. The fact that when she started taking hormones her athletic capabilities dropped to what you'd expect for someone born and matured XX doesn't seem to be particularly strong evidence that it was a physical, rather than a psychological, effect.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:21 PM
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it is the hormones that make most of the difference, not the chromosomes.

Did people doubt this? The East German women's athletes cleaned up in a way that their men did not because women have low enough testosterone etc. levels that adding more via steroids makes a huge difference. The Chinese women's swimmers a few games back had the same effect.

Of course, childhood development makes a big difference too, which is where the MTF types would have a perceived advantage.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:21 PM
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Yes, tennis used to be cuter and more feminine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:27 PM
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A footrace, of any distance, between the fastest 1000 humans would not feature a single woman, and never will.

Obviously you don't know about the massive underground sperm freezer we've just completed. We won't be needing you anymore, thanks.


Posted by: Your New Womyn Born Womyn Overlords | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:33 PM
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290: But the outfits show more leg now.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:33 PM
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288: There's no proof either way, but are you honestly saying that she tanked to be more female? And that she did so despite the fact that she didn't want that fact to be public and said tanking would be noticeable to her largest group of friends? People do irrational shit all the time, but this is stretching the bounds of my credulity.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:42 PM
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Also, the difference between learning as a kid and learning as an adult is only partly physiological. Good athletes operate on an unconscious level; conscious thought about what to do next is actively harmful to top athletic ability. This mimics language ability.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:44 PM
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I just found the awesomest thing ever, not least because it was after a blown call and Roddick was pissed. Ignore the fact that it was apparently made into a powerade commercial.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:51 PM
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Although the fact that it was a commercial now has me questioning whether it was real.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:52 PM
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Apparently it is fake, part of a series of powerade commercials of athletes doing ridiculous things. Oh well.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:53 PM
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293: but are you honestly saying that she tanked to be more female?

Not intentionally, and I don't know. But for someone who really really wanted to become a woman, who was taking steps to physically become a woman, to have talked herself into believing that her body had in a measurable physical sense become more feminine seems very plausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:55 PM
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Powerthirst commercial.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 6:55 PM
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Funnier powerthirst commercial.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:02 PM
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Also, this is informative on the subject of training vs. cardiovascular ability, especially the part where similar training in women and men provides similar improvement in overall ability, but by different mechanisms.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:07 PM
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298: Plausible, but I think unlikely. I'm not sure you appreciate how important running fast is to someone like that. But, YMMV.

Also, this from the article is interesting:

Athletic competition, the Olympic guidelines say, should be open to any transsexual whose genital reconstruction surgery has been completed, whose legal status has been changed (driver's license and so on), and whose hormonal therapy has been underway "for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages."


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 7:22 PM
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298: But dude, she's also taking hormones that block the production of testosterone. I don't want to dismiss the mental aspect, and I certainly don't think that we've exhausted all social reasons for why women tend to be slower historically, but it's like we're talking why someone's having trouble walking and discussing psychological theories about mobility when the guy's got a broken leg.

Women, even athletes, tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than men. If she's taking hormones to suppress being a male, it's entirely likely that her at 148 pounds and female is made up of different stuff than her at 148 pounds and male.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:49 PM
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257: Obviously things like straight-up speed running, or whatever, are going to virtually all be men; I've already admitted as much. But a *lot* of olympic sports and games are not anywhere near so clear-cut.

I also think it's a vast oversimplification to say that the 1000 fastest runners in the world are always and forever going to be men based on the fact that men, as a group, are stronger and faster than women. There are such things as outliers.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 9:53 PM
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I also think it's a vast oversimplification to say that the 1000 fastest runners in the world are always and forever going to be men based on the fact that men, as a group, are stronger and faster than women. There are such things as outliers.

Not so vast. Flo Jo's 100 m record is an extreme outlier that has stood for 20 years, and it's approximately .75 seconds behind the men's record, which is an eternity. The men's record has been faster than the current women's record since the 1920's.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 7-08 11:18 PM
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But a *lot* of olympic sports and games are not anywhere near so clear-cut.

One can look at the records, and for the non-timed sports, the general degree of difficulty of the stunts performed. In all the sports where strength is an advantage, which is damn near all of them, the men's times are faster and they're doing harder tricks.

I also think it's a vast oversimplification to say that the 1000 fastest runners in the world are always and forever going to be men based on the fact that men, as a group, are stronger and faster than women.

But that's not really the argument here. We're not talking about the average man, or the average woman; we're talking about the extreme levels of elite sport, where a tiny freak physical difference is what separates the champion from the guy in second place. That's why there's a temptation to use steroids. Being just a little bit stronger helps. Nothing about admitting that there are differences in world record times based on physical ability is going to have anything to do with whether women can work an average physical job, or whether Title IX should exist.

And women essentially start with a testosterone handicap, in sports where having the wrong body type means you won't be elite. (You're not going to find a 6 foot gymnast.) It's entirely possible that there might be one woman outlier who can crack the top 1000 in the 100m; but that's can't be a reason to eliminate the women's competition (which is what you were arguing earlier), because if you do that, I guarantee there's no particular reason for elite female athletes to train for the Olympics. Number 1000 in the world doesn't get to go to the Olympics. No little girl is going to be inspired by the person who doesn't qualify, or years of 'and the overall women's winner at the Games in the 100m is... no one, because there weren't any women here.' (It's an open question about whether anyone would get excited about the person who finished in 1000th place in any case.)

Sport is socially constructed, and to the extent that if the Olympics were designed solely for women, we'd probably see a lot more events that took advantage of balance and flexibility. No guy is going to win the balance beam.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 6:41 AM
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No guy is going to win the balance beam.

What about those castrati sons of bitches?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 6:53 AM
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What about those castrati sons of bitches?

As long as they don't use spring-loaded prosthetic testicles, I'm okay with them competing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 6:54 AM
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306 gets it pretty much right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 7:00 AM
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Hey, I like women's gymnastics as much as the next guy, I suppose, but I think it's a telling point that this is the sport that folks seem to be raising as the ideal in a more gender-equal world.

Women's gymnastics on the Olympic level is a girl's sport, not a women's sport. The things about it that make it more geared toward women vs. men are the precise things that make it geared more toward girls than women.

Maybe there's a place for women's gymnastics in the Pantheon of Sport, but I think the citation of this sport as a more "equal" sport underscores the inherent flaw in the whole enterprise of trying to find more equal sports.

Steps such as Title IX (and its enforcement) are the correct answer here.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 7:50 AM
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308 and 309 are both correct. We're dealing with a field of outliers, here, which is why spring-loaded prosthetic testicles are no-go.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:25 AM
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No one's suggesting to take away Title IX, or that women should only be allowed to compete in gymnastics.

And the reason it is a girl's sport is due to (once again) the strength-to-weight ratio. It's easier for a smaller gymnast to power through flips. Girls have an easier time of it than women, because they're lighter and smaller. (Men get the extra testosterone bonus.) To the extent that the sport values powerful moves like flips and vaults, it's going to favor younger women. Older gymnasts in show exhibitions still retain the flexibility and balance, but they don't have the power to do the elite moves.

(plus, they're really hard on the body. An elite gymnast who is injury-free at 25 probably has a decent chance to make the Olympic team, but the problem is that sometimes between being a 15-year-old prodigy and adjusting to a more womanly body at 19. the injuries rack up.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:31 AM
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but the problem is that sometimes between being a 15-year-old prodigy and adjusting to a more womanly body at 19. the injuries rack up.

Maybe Torres can help them learn how to recover from injuries faster.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:40 AM
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303: I'm not saying the hormones have nothing to do with it. All I meant was (a) a trans woman, even taking hormones, doesn't provide particularly strong evidence one way or the other about the athletic capabilities of women born as women, and (b) there's room for a whole lot of confounding psychological effects.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:42 AM
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BitchPhD: I also think it's a vast oversimplification to say that the 1000 fastest runners in the world are always and forever going to be men based on the fact that men, as a group, are stronger and faster than women. There are such things as outliers.

Yeah, but no man's ever going to admit to that.

Just as it makes able-bodied people very uncomfortable to think that a disabled athlete could compete with able-bodied athletes and win, it makes men very uncomfortable to think that women could compete with men and win.

10 kilometers? The world record for the longest distance swum in the open sea without flippers is 198 kilometers, between Mexico and Cuba, swum by Susie Maroney in 1998. It took her 38 hours. In 10 years, no one's broken it.

Dressage? In 1986, Susan Butcher broke Rick Swenson's record, set in 1981, for the Iditarod dog-team race to Nome by completing the 1049+ miles in 11 days, 15 hours and six minutes, on the longer Northern Route. In 1987 she broke her own record by finishing in 11 days, two hours, five minutes and 13 seconds. Then in 1990 she broke her record again, finishing in 11 days, one hour, 53 minutes, 23 seconds. (The record time Susan Butcher set was broken in 1993 by a man: but for 12 years men complained that women had an unfair advantage on the Iditarod because their dog teams liked them better.)

Nothing makes men more uncomfortable than a woman being better than them. Men who persistently assert their favored statistics about the inferiority of women clearly have problems with their dicks.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:48 AM
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Men who persistently assert their favored statistics about the inferiority of women clearly have problems with their dicks.

That must be Cala's problem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:51 AM
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...clearly have problems with their dicks.

Too harsh? Are we supposed to be heading towards comity, or are we still supposed to be having a fight?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:53 AM
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316: My dick is indeed non-existent.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:54 AM
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316: I thought Cala was a woman?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:57 AM
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Nothing makes men more uncomfortable than a woman being better than them. Men who persistently assert their favored statistics about the inferiority of women clearly have problems with their dicks.

eh.... ultra endurance sports are kind a unique category.

I've trained with some amazing female swimmers. I respect them immensely.

But, you really aren't going to find any swimming events except those ultra endurance events where the top women are competitive with the middle of the pack men.

I believe that the world records for women today are still slower than the average male college swimmer of 30 years ago.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 8:58 AM
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This is really ridiculous. To the extent that athletic ability defines human worth, the average woman will always be worth less than the average man. We can cherry-pick a few sports where women can compete as equals, and a very few sports where they have an advantage, and we can dream of transhuman technology or future advances in training methods, but women in general aren't as good at sports as men, and they never will be. And in most sports, the best women aren't as good as the best men, by far.

We happen to live in a country where sports are vastly overemphasized, and there's also a considerable tendency for the physically dominant (tall, athletic men) to have an advantage in competitive situations even when atheltic ability is completely irrelevant (e.g., in government: LBJ and Bill Clinton physically intimidated people). That's something that we should hope will change, but people here are playing to it.

I've been told that in France the parents of a robust, vigorous child will be told that he looks like a peasant. I know that in Taiwan scholarly, wimpy, geeky guys were regarded as very attractive. Joseph Brodsky (ex-Soviet Nobelist) once said that he evaluated nations to the inverse degree that the nation valued sports. (Presumably he was a Francophile -- France is a big athletic underachiever).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:01 AM
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314: Agreed generally. At a minimum, Janet still has the skeleton of a man. But it does say something interesting about the importance of testosterone.

I'm a little surprised by you here, LB, because you lift weights. You have to know what's typical for a woman to lift, and you know all the myths about bulking up or getting freakishly strong aren't true due to the fact that most women don't produce enough testosterone to do that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:01 AM
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Sport is socially constructed, and to the extent that if the Olympics were designed solely for women, we'd probably see a lot more events that took advantage of balance and flexibility. No guy is going to win the balance beam.

Agreed. Synchronized swimming is probably a good example. It requires amazing lung capacity, flexibility, and control of your body.

Even if men competed in the sport, women would probably generally crush the men.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:01 AM
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319: and yet she agrees that the top 1000 fastest runners in the world will always be men.

Seeking comity, I don't think anybody's arguing that there are no athletic contests where women can dominate at the elite level. Just that those sorts of contests and traditional, you know, feats-of-strength type sporting events (such as were chosen for the "core" olympic events lo 110 or so years ago) don't really have a lot of overlap. That this is for cultural reasons more-or-less designed to exclude women from the top levels of "sport" as defined is I think incontestable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:03 AM
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324: And it's interesting how sports where women would dominate get derided as about grace and pigtails, or not really a sport, etc., etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:05 AM
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318: Prostheses are available. Or so I'm led to believe.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:07 AM
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322: I'm not sure what position you think I'm taking that you're surprised by. Sure, hormones matter -- that's why we have doping scandals. Sure, the hormones the woman in the article was taking probably had at least some effect on her athletic performance.

What I was taking issue with was the implicit claim that the article provided any solid data, even on an anecdotal level, about differences in athletic capacity between persons born and matured XX and persons born and matured XY. The transwoman in the article didn't transition from being born and matured XY to being born and matured XX; she socially transitioned from male to female, while biologically remaining born and matured XY and taking hormones to imperfectly replicate the hormonal levels of someone born XX. It's an interesting story about a transwoman, but doesn't say much about ciswomen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:11 AM
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Emerson is correct in 321


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:12 AM
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325: I actually think there's been an interesting sort-of reversal in skateboarding and derivative sports, where the dudes felt left out of the "seek approval of a panel of your peers" genre of athletic contest (because, honestly, who cares what a clock thinks?) and we've ended up with events where men's physical advantages are muted bordering on irrelevant.

Go Elissa Steamer!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:12 AM
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We could redefine sports, or we could deemphasize them. The latter makes more sense to me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:12 AM
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OT to 329: Should I get a longboard? Will I like it if I do? Will it make me more of a man?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:21 AM
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327: I meant more throughout the thread, where you seem to find it surprising that strength is an advantage in most sports, and that men have an advantage in increasing their strength. Social differences surely affect the talent pool, but I get the sense you're thinking that the rest of us don't get that and we're on board with some fundamental inferiority complex.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:23 AM
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Holy shit! How do you swim for 38 hours? Are there any timed endurance events in swimming? By which I don't mean who can swim a super-long distance the fastest, but who can continue to swim the longest before stopping due to exhaustion?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:26 AM
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331: sure, maybe, no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:27 AM
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We could redefine sports, or we could deemphasize them. The latter makes more sense to me.

I am not sure what you mean by deemphasize so I am not sure I agree. I think that we should emphasize more people to participate in sports, but that sports as a spectator event could probably be deemphaisized.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:28 AM
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And it's interesting how sports where women would dominate get derided as about grace and pigtails, or not really a sport, etc., etc.

Pigtails get mocked. Pigtails should be mocked. I'm not sure about grace, unless it's the end goal, rather than a byproduct. Again, women's tennis was, for a good part of my life, better than men's tennis because it was more graceful. The same could be said (IMVLE) for women's lax and, at the college level in the US, maybe women's soccer.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:35 AM
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I think that women do have an endurance advantage, but it only kicks in beyond the marathon distance, or at some comparable distance in swimming.

I suspect that sports were chosen to emphasize in part simply because men are better at sports; there's also a correlation with nationalism and militarism.

Imagine a world in which musical talent was a big advantage for power-seekers -- an area where women and men do compete more or less equally. But perhaps for that very reason, musical talent is useless or perhaps even a negative for power-seekers.

In fact, in the worlds of jazz and rock, women have had to fight to be anything other than singers, even though in the classical world women compete at the highest level. To me this looks like a genuine case of sexist bias.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:37 AM
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332: I think you've been misreading me. Go back to my 119, where I lay out the criteria for a sport where men wouldn't have an advantage, and the following posts where I note that I've eliminated almost everything I can think of.

What I've been interested in is picking apart what the male gender advantage is, in detail, and trying to figure out where it applies and where it doesn't apply -- not to make any larger social point, but just because I like nailing things down. Saying "Men are just stronger and faster," while roughly true, is oversimplified: what they are is (as a group) (1) bigger; (2) for a given body weight, leaner; (3) for a given muscle mass, proportioned so that more of that muscle is in the upper body; (4) narrower hipped; (5) if that thing SCMT linked is right, which makes sense as explaining the biking, able to transport more oxygen per unit of blood volume. It's interesting (at least to me) to play with the specific gender differences, and see if there are sports now being played where those five factors (and there could be more, that's just all I can think of) don't constitute an advantage.

On the social stuff, I do think there's a tendency to forget that the social stuff is still operating, so I bring it up. But that doesn't mean I think there's no real sexual dimorphism, just that it the differences in performance aren't yet limited to only the innate physical differences.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:38 AM
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We should deemphasize sports success as a defining part of personal identity.

Imagine a world in which a champion athlete got the same respect as a champion comic book collector.

Sports for fun is a good thing, but that's not what's at stake here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:39 AM
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I suspect that sports were chosen to emphasize in part simply because men are better at sports; there's also a correlation with nationalism and militarism

I doubt that if only because it's not clear to me that, for much of history, you needed sports to exclude women. But sports are organized around various "manly" virtues, and insofar as those are define as not feminine, you would expect the effect to be the same as an attempt to exclude women.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:41 AM
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Well, but weren't spectator sports per se (as opposed to ritual feats of strength or daring or whatever) a product of a Greek culture obsessed with the perfection of the male form, to a degree that they could barely put together a realistic statue of a woman? Get a classicist in here, I want answers!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:44 AM
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340: I think that lies on my side of the distinction.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:47 AM
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Er, 343 to 341.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:48 AM
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341: I took a course in Roman art, but not in Greek. Unless you did a degree in Classical archaeology or a joint degree in Classics and Fine Arts, art and archaeology were dismissed as unimportant in my philologically-oriented program. I think that's changed slightly.

You'll have to ask oudemia.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:48 AM
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see if there are sports now being played where those five factors (and there could be more, that's just all I can think of) don't constitute an advantage.

Bowling?

Checkers?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:51 AM
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The contemporary sports emphasis is only a century or two old. It's quite a different thing than the Greek emphasis. Before about 1800 the prestigious events were swordsmanship and other aristocratic, directly military skills. It may be that entertainment sports derives directly from the forms of military training developed in France, Holland, England, and Sweden during the early modern era. Oddly, Czech nationalists played a big role during the Nineteenth Century.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:52 AM
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Will, is there a swim until you can't swim anymore ocean event? Do women dominate it?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:52 AM
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341: I know! They didn't even put arms and heads on the women.

But that doesn't mean I think there's no real sexual dimorphism, just that it the differences in performance aren't yet limited to only the innate physical differences.

I think we're getting close to it in some of the events. The times in the 100m events barely move. And it's important to keep in mind that while social differences in the U.S. historically have kept women out of sports, we're not the only country that competes in the Olympics, and some of them have very different talent identification and training methods.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:52 AM
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Will, is there a swim until you can't swim anymore ocean event? Do women dominate it?

They do, but because the winners always drown it's tough to recruit truly elite athletes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:55 AM
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346: Well, so far we've got sailing. And I'm still up in the air on diving -- I don't know much about it, but it's not clear to me that the physically optimal body for a diver is one in which the masculine body-type is particularly advantaged.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:55 AM
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You have to know what's typical for a woman to lift, and you know all the myths about ... getting freakishly strong aren't true

I'm not going to let you crush my dreams, Cala.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:57 AM
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in the worlds of jazz and rock, women have had to fight to be anything other than singers

Now they can play bass, too!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:57 AM
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A number of dives take off from a handstand where you press your weight to jump from the platform.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:58 AM
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The times in the 100m events barely move.

Is this true? Or are the incremental improvements relative to the overall time elapsed for the sprint actually comparable to longer distance events?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:59 AM
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352: dude, skateboard street events, I'm telling you. Get extreme, LB!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 9:59 AM
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They do, but because the winners always drown it's tough to recruit truly elite athletes.

Eh, you're not Will, Tweety. I was assuming that there would be boats to pick people up once they signaled that they wanted out.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:00 AM
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355: Well, that'd certainly advantage men. Leaving me with sailing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:01 AM
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Leaving me with sailing

Ski jumping? I have no idea what makes a person a better ski jumper.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:02 AM
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359: Leaving me with sailing and mud wrestling.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:03 AM
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I was wondering about that. Weight is going to be an advantage, but I'm not sure how it plays out in detail -- are good ski-jumpers big guys?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:04 AM
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362: No, typically they're tiny, hollow-boned creatures. But they do have massive quads and incredible core strength.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:05 AM
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I dont know, BG.

Here are the 25k open water results to compare how men are still significantly better than women. (I'm sure that the relatively difference is much closer in the 25k than in shorter distances though.)

"Winning the men's race was swimmer Mark Warkentin of the Santa Barbara Swim Club, with a time of 5:20:47 seconds. Erica Rose, swimming unattached, came out on top of the women's swim race with a time of 6:12:51.

Warkentin was third in the men's 10K on Saturday, while Rose finished fifth in the women's 10K. Rounding out the top three in the men's 25K were John Kenny of Germantown Academy (5:38.22) and Brooks Felton (unattached, 5:54.17). Mission Viejo's Micha Burden was second in the women's race in 6:21:51, while Krista Mantay of Pembroke Pines Aquatics was third in 6:29.15."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:06 AM
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Sailing and maybe some of the air gun events. High school rifle is competed co-ed. The Olympics aren't, though.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:07 AM
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And women's ski jumping looks to be right in the middle of a nasty fight with the IOC. Right now it is not in for the 2010 games.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:09 AM
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but for 12 years men complained that women had an unfair advantage on the Iditarod because their dog teams liked them better

This is hilarious. Imagine if they used children instead of dogs. Men wouldn't have a chance.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:15 AM
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354: Some of the the skeezy black band leaders seem yp have been ahead of the curve. Sly Stone gave Cynthia Robinson solo time on trumpet, Prince had Sheila E on percussion (the ultimate testosterone meathead role).

Prince was converted to the Jehovah Witness faith by Larry Graham of the Family Stone. Michael Jackson was born JW. There are no coincidences.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:17 AM
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In fact, in the worlds of jazz and rock, women have had to fight to be anything other than singers, even though in the classical world women compete at the highest level. To me this looks like a genuine case of sexist bias.

Agreed. It's unfortunate, and doesn't seem to be changing quickly.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:20 AM
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No offense to any drummers here.

(What do you call a guy who hangs around musicians all the time?)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:20 AM
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(What do you call a guy who hangs around musicians all the time?)

Stanley!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:21 AM
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typically they're tiny, hollow-boned creatures

Huh. This sounds like a body-type where women might have a shot at competing evenly. (That is, I don't think women are disadvantaged on quad-strength to weight ratio, although I might be mistaken). Annoying that it's a sport where women aren't allowed to play at all at the Olympic level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:23 AM
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But for someone who really really wanted to become a woman, who was taking steps to physically become a woman, to have talked herself into believing that her body had in a measurable physical sense become more feminine seems very plausible.

This sounds ludicrous to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:23 AM
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A lot more women coming through on the British jazz scene in the last 20 years, though nowhere near enough. No idea why. Rock remains a total lock-out. OTOH, think about what you know about rock culture.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:24 AM
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Imagine if they used children instead of dogs. Men wouldn't have a chance.

I'm totally calling 696-KIDS on you. Also: sexist.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:24 AM
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Here is a page with both Men's and Women's Olympic and world shooting records. The use of a different number of shots conveniently makes it (a bit)harder to directly compare results.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:25 AM
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In fact, in the worlds of jazz and rock, women have had to fight to be anything other than singers, even though in the classical world women compete at the highest level.

And in the classical world, women have only very recently become competitive with men, with the advent of blind orchestra auditions.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:26 AM
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One thing that took some getting used to when I decided to never succeed at anything at life ever again and start hanging out here is how large sports loom in the minds of the Unfoggedtariat. My opinion is close to John's. Sports are one of a million hobbies that for whatever reason has a totally disproportionate importance in the US. Track and field is of as much intrinsic importance as quilting; that is to say, almost none. The solution is not to make quilting more important to achieve gender balance, the solution is to make sports less.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:30 AM
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I wonder to what extent male advantage is baked into the cake even in sports where it doesn't seem there should be much such advantage. That is, there isn't some platonic ideal of something like diving. There had to be a developmental arc. If men were the ones defining that arc, it makes sense to me that they would pursue paths that seemed more sporty than the other paths. And, insofar as their sense of sporty was built upon sensibilities formed by other sports, it might focus their attention on various "masculine" attributes like strength even when there is no internal logic demanding it from the sport. So you get handstand dives, which seem to me stupider--and who knew this was possible?--than other dives.

Don't Indiana high schools have some bizarre variant of basketball for girls? It would be interesting to see what's emphasized there.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:30 AM
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376: Sorry, ari. Your kids like their mom better than they like you. That's the price you pay for all that time you spend training for the 100M.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:38 AM
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380: Girls 6 on 6 basketball.

It is most well known from Iowa high schools, last played there in the early 90s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:40 AM
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380: Well, yeah. I think there's some resistance to the idea that sexual dimorphism doesn't necessarily give men an overwhelming physical advantange in all plausible forms of athletic competition (it does actually give men such an advantage in very nearly all plausible forms of athletic competition, of course, but that's not quite the same.) Which means that you get things like single sex rifle competitions, which there's no obvious good reason for -- there seems to be at least some desire to avoid head to head competition in the few cases where it might be fair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:42 AM
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There's also netball, which is a basketball-oid girls game they played in Samoa, and I think elsewhere in places that used to be part of the British empire. No dribbling, only passing; if you've got the ball you're stationary (maybe one step?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:44 AM
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Iowa used to have a version of basketball for girls with very odd rules. In my father's day (ca. 1930) it was more popular than boys' basketball, he said. They reverted to standard rules in 1993.

Link


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:45 AM
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how large sports loom in the minds of the Unfoggedtariat

This is partially a manifestation of my theory that the aggregate of the commenters reveals the personality of the blogger. Ogged likes sports and lo, they show up in the comments a lot. Maybe it'll change with a different front page.

I can't agree with calls to de-emphasize sports in general. I think they do lots of great things. They have a strong importance because doing stuff with your body is disproportionately relevant in daily life. If they include socializing, it gets even more relevant. I think there are pretty human reasons why sports rise to big importance in lots of cultures.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:46 AM
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Yeah. I'm really not a sportsy person; I talked somewhere above about how difficult it was getting in shape for the first time ever when I was in college. But I do think doing something athletic has a huge effect on self-confidence and happiness; I've put an effort into making sure my kids do for that reason.

Why people watch sports, I couldn't really tell you, mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:51 AM
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Which means that you get things like single sex rifle competitions, which there's no obvious good reason for -- there seems to be at least some desire to avoid head to head competition in the few cases where it might be fair.

I buy that. Men really can be extraordinary dicks about losing in sports to women. Prior versions of self sadly included.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:51 AM
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Why people watch sports, I couldn't really tell you, mostly.

Because, unlike you, we love Mom, the flag, and apple pie. Frenchie.

It's a common language for most men.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:53 AM
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381: Nope, not true; they like me more. Because I can thrown them higher in the air than she can.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 10:54 AM
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391: Damn you and your upper body strength.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:01 AM
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383

"... Which means that you get things like single sex rifle competitions, which there's no obvious good reason for -- there seems to be at least some desire to avoid head to head competition in the few cases where it might be fair."

If it's normal to have separate men's and women's events it's simpler to do this always rather than worry about exactly where to draw the line. And having separate competitions means twice as many medals, why should it be twice as hard to win a medal in rifle?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:02 AM
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387: I like your theory.

Sports is in many ways a modern phenomenon, and I'm not sure if there's another country where they have the same importance that they do here. In many ways the values of sports are antithetical to that of progressivism. When I play a sport, I get a certain small amount of joy in play well, but I get a much bigger joy out of humiliating my opponent. Just last night I played pool, and the main thing I remember about the game was not how well I played, but how I crushed my opponents. (I also lost one game despite playing well; the main thing I remember is the losing). If I think of my most cherished sports moments, they involve the physical humiliation of another human being. I have talked to enough people about "most cherished sports moments" that I am far from unusual in that regard.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:07 AM
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In many ways the values of sports are antithetical to that of progressivism When I play a sport, I get a certain small amount of joy in play well, but I get a much bigger joy out of humiliating my opponent

That isn't really about sport though that is about competition. You could easily say the same about politics or debate.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:11 AM
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but I get a much bigger joy out of humiliating my opponent.

Not from Northern California, then?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:12 AM
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Annoying that it's a sport where women aren't allowed to play at all at the Olympic level.

I don't think there are enough women competing in it yet; they tend not to approve sports that don't have many individuals competing in it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:13 AM
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Competition is holy in the US, and sports is its sacrament. No kidding.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:13 AM
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395: And there is, allegedly and anecdotally for me, a gender difference there. Cf. Carol Gilligan and others on young girls playing more cooperative games and young boys more competitive. Sociologically, physical competitiveness is discouraged in women.

Maybe it's different for the women here who play or have played at a seriously competitive level. I mostly want to play, like to occasionally win, and don't like humiliating anyone who's not objectively an asshole.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:15 AM
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I mostly want to play well, that is.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:16 AM
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396: I do believe that elite sports and the Olympics involve an element of competition, yes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:17 AM
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If I think of my most cherished sports moments, they involve the physical humiliation of another human being. I have talked to enough people about "most cherished sports moments" that I am far from unusual in that regard.

That is probably true but, as a counter-example, my most cherished sports moments are moments of surprise at my body figuring out how to do something complicated in a way in a moment that I didn't consciously choose.

For example, making a tough catch in ultimate at an angle at which I would never normally use, or making a pass into a space where even I don't consciously see the opening until after I've thrown the pass.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:17 AM
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While not particularly athletically successful, I'm all about the physical competitiveness in arenas where I think I have a shot. I really enjoyed winning that fencing class tournament I mentioned above, in a "Sucks to be you, Billy!" kind of way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:18 AM
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403.2: My experience exactly.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:19 AM
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I'm not sure if there's another country where they have the same importance that they do here.

That's your perception? I think of the soccer-crazy countries as being even more engrossed with sports.

Word, NickS.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:21 AM
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404: Hehe. Figures, when you remember his name 20 years after you won the class tournament.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:22 AM
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I'm not sure if there's another country where they have the same importance that they do here.

I work for an internet company with a large global audience / user base. A while back we had unexplained noticeable dips in our traffic around noon Pacific Time. After much investigation, it turned out to be due to the '08 Euro Cup matches. Whenever a country was playing, our usage dropped by about 50%.

Also, the Olympics may be more popular in the US than most places due to our bigger population and comparative wealth meaning that we tend to clean up more than most.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:22 AM
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Sports is in many ways a modern phenomenon, and I'm not sure if there's another country where they have the same importance that they do here

Depends what you mean by 'importance'. Football [soccer] looms large in British culture, and certainly when I was growing up, most male children spent a LOT of time playing.

I was a fairly bookish kid who wasn't good at football, but I probably still played 2 hours a day most days. So, in terms of participation, no, the US isn't unusual.

But the 'jock' thing is pretty odd. I'm not aware of any other countries [except Australia?] where high school athletes and the like are a big deal.

re: 404

Ironically, one of the reasons I like combat sports is ... I'm not competitive. The only loser, if I lose, is me [no team mates] and, if I don't make an arse of myself and if I don't look stupid, I don't mind losing either.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:23 AM
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I guess I like both, but I much prefer 403.2.* Which, I think, makes me more girlie than LB. Like that's news.

* This might be a function of the frequency with which each happens.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:23 AM
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Also, the Olympics may be more popular in the US than most places due to our bigger population and comparative wealth meaning that we tend to clean up more than most.

I've mentioned before the contrast between Canada's coverage of the Olympics (peace! brotherhood! the love of the game!) and that of the U.S. (watch us make other countries eat sand!) shivbunny puts it down to no overwhelming medal hopes in Canada for the Summer Games.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:26 AM
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Of course now I'm going to learn I'm just a uniquely bad person. Unfogged: voyage of personal discovery!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:30 AM
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I won't presume to tease out the reasons for it, but the incredible growth in the formal institutionalization and organization of sports (at all ages and levels of play) in the industrial and post-industrial world over the past century really is an interesting and big story.

Here is a question I sometimes ask of people: When do you think the last Olympics will be held? Why will it be the last? (Or substitute World Series, SuperBowl, March Madness, World Cup).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:31 AM
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You're not bad; you've just never been taught to love.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:31 AM
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re: 412

The UK coverage is all a bit desperate for success.

"Look everyone! Plucky [athlete name] might be in with a chance in [event]"

It's not generally that triumphal in sports where the UK does do well, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:34 AM
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You're a fine person, but the "this is some thing I don't like about American culture, surely the rest of the world does it differently" is not always true. It's interesting how frequently it gets brought out, though.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:34 AM
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Here is a question I sometimes ask of people: When do you think the last Olympics will be held? Why will it be the last? (Or substitute World Series, SuperBowl, March Madness, World Cup).

Can you think of any examples of long running sporting tournaments ending? There must be comparable situations, but I don't know enough about the history of sports to know.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:34 AM
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Of course now I'm going to learn I'm just a uniquely bad person.

Worth noting that both I and Megan (IIRC) describe ourselves as temperamentally conflict averse. I don't know about Sir Kraab and SCMT.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:36 AM
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Of course now I'm going to learn I'm just a uniquely bad person.

If you need further corroboration, just send an e-mail to my personal account.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:38 AM
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the incredible growth in the formal institutionalization and organization of sports...in the industrial and post-industrial world over the past century really is an interesting and big story

Sports history is a recognized sub-field. And if I knew more than that, I would have said so already. But if you want to know if there's a book that answers the above implied question, I'll be happy to check. I know some people who work in the field.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:41 AM
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420: Well, Walt's clearly not uniquely bad. LB copped to the same feelings.

Finally, an area of competition with the opportunity real gender equality: evil!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:42 AM
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419, see 26.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:42 AM
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But if you want to know if there's a book that answers the above implied question, I'll be happy to check.

I remember seeing a review in the LRB about a global history of football (soccer) that looked interesting. The line that I remember noting was a comment about how this strange game from England became "the most popular game in the world."

A quick google search turns up neither the book nor the review unfortunately.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:43 AM
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417: I'm not going to try to defend that particular claim, but I formed the impression first-hand. I was just trying to form a convincing defense, but then I realized how much of my experience in foreign countries consisted of the inside of bars and nightclubs. Also, I've just spent the last week in the company of a bunch of French and Russians, whose main sports seem to be drinking, and (in the case of the French) smoking; this might be coloring my perception. (They do like ping pong and pool, but the defining characteristic of these two is that no one really gives a shit about either.)

What I find odd here is not the obsession with spectator sports (which is pretty widespread), or the fact that kids will play games that involve running around for three hours straight (which must surely be universal) but the way sports becomes an important goal of self-improvement. So Michael Phelps is not just a sports hero, but is a role model for adults.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:43 AM
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I'm guessing that if there were an Evil Olympics, Americans would dominate.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:45 AM
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I have the ToS on my side, bitches!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:49 AM
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Oh, one of my undergrad humanities requirements was satisfied by The History of American Sports. Prominent and mostly self-explanatory concepts were the American tendency of voluntary vicarious association (noted in the 1800s even), and the trend of "Muscular Christianity", which I seem to recall as an early 20th Century kind of thing.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:49 AM
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419 - You RC.

Finally, an area of competition with the opportunity real gender equality: evil!

I've spent the last couple years trying to make telling people on the internet you can beat them up gender neutral. Sometimes I think I've made some inroads, sometimes I cry at how far we still have to go.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:51 AM
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424: I have that book at home (although I'm blanking on the title at the moment). Haven't read it yet tho.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:53 AM
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424: I think this is it, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:53 AM
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Take two: This is it, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:54 AM
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Oh, one of my undergrad humanities requirements was satisfied by The History of American Sports. Prominent and mostly self-explanatory concepts were the American tendency of voluntary vicarious association (noted in the 1800s even), and the trend of "Muscular Christianity", which I seem to recall as an early 20th Century kind of thing.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:55 AM
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428

434 pwned by 429.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:57 AM
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France performs terribly in track and field, and they don't seem to care. Cycling, soccer, and rugby seem to be it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 11:59 AM
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but the way sports becomes an important goal of self-improvement. So Michael Phelps is not just a sports hero, but is a role model for adults.

Yeah, but that's because you're a nation of infants ...

[someone said that the point of this thread was fights and arguments!]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:05 PM
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437: No, that one is true.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:05 PM
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When do you think the last Olympics will be held? Why will it be the last?

Olympia, 392 ad. Because of the damn Christians. I'm not being snarky - that's the sort of scale of shift in civilization that's going to be necessary to stop the money making machine that is the IOC.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:06 PM
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Take two: This is it, right?

No, something more recent, I think. And probably published in the UK.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:17 PM
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434

Sports is an important goal for self-improvement. I am fully convinced that I perform better at other tasks in my life, especially mental tasks, because I exercise. Whether this is a real or placebo-type effect is less important.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:19 PM
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You're a fine person, but . . .

I believe all Unfogged comments should start thusly.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:19 PM
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France performs terribly in track and field, and they don't seem to care.

They save their sprinting for wars. (Had to be said, however untrue.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:19 PM
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We're not infants, ttaM, we're idiots. Please.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:20 PM
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Nothing about admitting that there are differences in world record times based on physical ability is going to have anything to do with whether women can work an average physical job, or whether Title IX should exist.

This is sort of the point I've been trying to make throughout this thread, actually.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:23 PM
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Worth noting that both I and Megan (IIRC) describe ourselves as temperamentally conflict averse. I don't know about Sir Kraab and SCMT.

Semi. I generally avoid conflict with close friends and family, but I've been known to be a bit loud and insistent in political discussions and with certain kinds of real life trolls.

/understatement


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:23 PM
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Take two: This is it, right?

I think it was The Ball is Round, though I can't find that when I search the LRB website.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:31 PM
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That this is for cultural reasons more-or-less designed to exclude women from the top levels of "sport" as defined is I think incontestable.

Also, this.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:34 PM
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442

It's not that the U.S. is a nation of infants (except inasmuch as one wants to say that "men are babies," which I have to admit, I'm increasingly sympathetic to the temptation of middle-aged and older women to say such things). It's that the U.S. is a nation of anxious masculinity.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:37 PM
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439: Olympia, 392 ad.... - that's the sort of scale of shift in civilization that's going to be necessary ..

Oh, I agree that is where the discussion usually ends up. These things have become deeply ingrained. My only quibble is that you are probably right about the venality of the IOC, but I think the overall push for something like the Olympics is much broader-based.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:39 PM
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There've been a couple recent soccer books. I have The Ball is Round, and it's quite good (though I confess I've sort of put it aside for the moment: it's looooong).

Ari, you should totally get a longboard. Mr. B. has one.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:45 PM
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Ari, you should totally get a longboard.

Where's he gonna use it, though? Surf the river through Stockton?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:55 PM
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452: Where's he gonna use it, though?

Hanging in a prominent place where people can see it and be impressed. Expanded definitions of "use" for $200 please.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:58 PM
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There are skate boards that are also called "long boards."

Also, it's not a river, it's a delta.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 12:59 PM
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448

Um, it's a river delta.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:01 PM
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395, 400: I'm actually incredibly competitive, but I shy away from sporty competition because people tend to dislike and disapprove, one, and two, because in sports I'm always going to lose and if I let myself get too wound up, I'll behave badly when I do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:03 PM
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455: People call it "the delta," not "the river."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:05 PM
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454: Or maybe perhaps it's about the *sport itself*. Soccer, like basketball, is actually enjoyable to watch and involves ongoing play. Football and baseball don't, and car-racing is just stupid.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:06 PM
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458: Thanks for sorting that out. What about curling?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:07 PM
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Curling is bizarrely amusing. Mr. B. got really into watching it while we were in Canadia, and I made fun of him.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:10 PM
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457: regardless, it's a river delta, which is part of a river.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:22 PM
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461: Yeah, well, we hicks from Stockton don't know these things.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 1:33 PM
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Deltas are always river deltas, unless they're fraternities or displacements or something.

My brother has been Canadian for about 10 years, and he knows curling well enough to anticipate and/or second guess the TV announcers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 2:27 PM
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There's also netball, which is a basketball-oid girls game they played in Samoa, and I think elsewhere in places that used to be part of the British empire. No dribbling, only passing; if you've got the ball you're stationary (maybe one step?)

Basketball is, I think, actually a debased form of netball, if I remember my vague memories correctly. Netball's played all over the Commonwealth.

Also, Emerson's sports history is very biased towards non-team sports. Especially the bit where he says the French don't take sport seriously -- twice Champions of Europe, once Champions of the World, founding members of Uefa and Fifa -- those are serious achievements. And the Tour, of course. (Arguably the most popular Belgian of the 20th century? A cyclist.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 5:03 PM
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458

The mental hospital where I used to work had some curling lawns out in the front of the big house. It'd had been some rich family's house prior to the late Victorian period, and in front of the house were terraced flat lawns that, apparently, they used to pour water over in winter where it'd freeze to make curling rinks. Or, at least, that's what I told when I asked why they had perfectly flat terraced lawns beside the main house.

Netball is a quintessential girl's sport in the UK. They made the boys play it now and again, but from about age 11 it was girls only.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 8-08 7:55 PM
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383 et seq: it's not impossible that men might have advantages in rifle shooting. I'm not an expert on the sport, but upper body musculature obviously comes into it. You don't have to be super strong to be a good shot, but you need to have good endurance to hold the target for sustained periods without starting to shake. Also, good cardiovascular fitness so you can more easily control breathing and heart rate.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08- 5-09 4:57 AM
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Basketball is first. Netball was designed as "basketball for girls."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-09 6:56 AM
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In Russian, please, Walt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 8-09 6:59 AM
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That is Russian, Sifu. You didn't know you were fluent?

I completely missed how old this thread is. How sad that Keir had to wait an entire year to be corrected by me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 8-09 7:06 AM
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Hrmm. So exactly one year passed between comment 458 and 467. That puts comment 500 around September 2013. Hrmm. Hopefully the White Liberation Front will be history, the civil war will be over, we'll finally be in recovery from the economic collapse and President Biden will still be having a reelection honeymoon and good relations with the Han Empire.

max
['Lemme know 500!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 08- 8-09 8:25 AM
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I completely missed how old this thread is.

Me too. I was briefly excited to see John here.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 8-09 9:18 AM
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It is not important whether you are a football fan or simply love to look at pretty girls you must visit this site.


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Posted by: lizbridaMal | Link to this comment | 09- 8-09 12:20 AM
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And New Zealand was originally designed as "Australia for girls".


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Posted by: writioult | Link to this comment | 10-11-09 11:07 PM
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