I'm not a sports fan because of a guy I'm dating, or as an excuse to tailgate. I admit to exulting a bit when I can dismantle the preconception of who a sports fan is, or who a woman is, simply by talking about sports, which I love anyway. And I love the chance to have my own preconceptions dismantled when we chatter together about sports.With that in mind, the #3 reason why this feminist is a sports fan (and the very FIRST reason I started following the games) is ...
Why is the thought of Chicago Cubs ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano hanging it up at age 31 such a big joke? Is it because he has a hot temper or is it because he said he wanted to spend more time with his three daughters and beloved mother? Most sports reporters think he's bluffing, that he's too much of a competitor to quit.
These days, the ham-fisted methods used by professional sports teams to recruit women into their fan base (and thus their customer base) are not particularly hard to spot—just look for the pink jerseys.
So, I was tooling around the Interwebs the other day trying to find some old-school ladies' sports footage for that last blog piece, and I stumbled upon some pretty sweet YouTubery—the site is loaded with tons of amazing bits of video that relates to women and sports. I ended up spending the last two days hovered over my laptop trolling through dozens of old newsreels, current news bits, interviews, play-by-play excerpts, and pretty much everything else you could think of, and I found plenty of stuff to pass on, some of it inspiring, some of it totally depressing, but all of it fascinating.
So, kicking things off is the old newsreel obituary for the great Babe Didrikson, who may be the best female athlete to ever live. She died of cancer at the age of 42, after basically kicking ass her entire life. Here's how ESPN describes her:
The first to prove a girl could be a stud athlete, Babe Didrikson began as a muscular phenom who mastered many sports and ended as a brilliant golfer. An exuberant tomboy whose life was athletics, she was accomplished in just about every sport - basketball, track, golf, baseball, tennis, swimming, diving, boxing, volleyball, handball, bowling, billiards, skating and cycling. When asked if there was anything she didn't play, she said, "Yeah, dolls."
On May 1, a pair of tennis-playing girls—sisters Karli and Tonya Timko—won the won the boys AA Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League doubles title.
Let me take that back: They didn't just win. They freakin' dominated. As singles players on the boys team, they rolled over their opponents all year, dropping only two sets between the two of them. When the season came to a close and titles were on the line, the sisters teamed up as double partners again and hammered their finals opponents, Tin Chu and Drew Gallatin of Thomas Jefferson High, by a total of 6-2, 6-1.
According to their own statements in the press, the sisters, who play for Chartiers-Houston high, have been playing on the boys' tennis team because there haven't been enough girls to field a girls' squad. That dismal state of affairs is a worthy enough topic for conversation, but let's save that for another time. What I want to take a look at is the media coverage of the sisters' victory.
This past week, sports-wise, we had a bit of a truth crisis.
We had Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance—about which he had previously lied. We had the release of a book on Alex Rodriguez—who also previously lied about his steroid use. The book was written by a woman who, while not a liar, plays dangerous games with what's true.