Let's saddle up the wayback machine, kids, and travel to the year 1866. It was this very year, when baseball was deemed too difficult and violent a sport for ladies to play, when the Vassar Resolutes hiked up their giant, heavy skirts to run the base paths anyway.
I found this photo of the Resolutes (and, OMG—can you believe they were called the Resolutes?) in an advance copy of Jennifer Ring's Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball, which will be available from the University of Illinois Press in March 2009...
Not a good week for the ladies, sports-wise. First up, in order of horrifying: The Chicago White Sox haven't been doing so hot, so they initiated a little "slumpbuster" that involved taking two female blow-up dolls and arranging them in the team clubhouse with baseball bats jammed into various orifices. Surrounding the dolls with players' bats, the team also stuck a sign on one encouraging players and clubhouse visitors to "push."
The title of this post is the song title of another provocatively-titled entity (or problematically-titled entity, depending on whom you ask), 3 Leg Torso, a band I saw perform tonight. I've never been good at describing genres, but I'll call it a mashup of Klezmer/Chamber/Gypsy/Circus/Carnival/(see, this is why I don't write music reviews). The point is, it was one of the best shows I've seen in years. My mouth hurt afterwards because I had a perpetual smile through almost the whole show. Equally impressive was the opener, Fish Tank Ensemble. Please check them both out.
Earlier in the day, I let my friend Ben convince me to accompany him to a professional basketball game between the Portland Trailblazers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Allow me to set the stage (even though really, you had to be there to understand)...
Talk about old school. In skating rinks around the nation, saucy dames are getting together and strapping on old-fashioned quad roller skates to jam, block, and pummel each other. The roller derby revival is on. More than two dozen leagues operate across the country, with an average of 30 to 40 active skaters each (some leagues even boast as many as 60), and many more are in the works.
See that blonde weaving through the strip on Rollerblades?” writes Details magazine in a March 2005 article. “Please puff up her denim miniskirt just enough for us to drink in the full length of her long, bronze legs.”
No, this isn’t a fluff piece on the latest centerfold hottie. It’s Details’ self-proclaimed “extraordinary” article on professional golfer Mianne Bagger, whose biggest challenge this year was winning the right to step onto the green with other women. In her quest to find acceptance in professional competition, Bagger has overcome the resistance of both golf’s governing agencies and other female pros who worried that Bagger would have an inherent physiological advantage. That’s because, although Bagger has played golf since she was 8 years old, she only turned pro in 2003—10 years after what she calls “a transsexual past.”
I’m not an athlete. I’ve always disliked team sports, with their conformist, vaguely fascist associations. While as a child I longed to be a tree-climbing tomboy, I had to admit a preference for tea parties, dress-up, and long afternoons at the library.
Then one summer night, three years ago, I played my first game of bike polo. It’s an elegant game: With mallets in their right hand, players ride their bikes up and down the field trying to whack a grapefruit-size ball between two orange cones. It was instant love.