Curtis_04-2017
Society & Culture

The Sport You Aren’t Watching

Women’s sports lurch upon a troubled foundation.  To throw like a girl is to fail on the grounds of athleticism, and not to throw like a girl is to fail on the grounds of girlism.  Worse, the quest for equality cannot reconcile its dogmatic ideal with how its professed adherents live out their faith.  If the ratio of boys to girls auditioning for the School of American Ballet in Queens is 1:8, imagine what a beginners’ class looks like in Terre Haute.  Meanwhile, the ratio of boys to girls in the WNBA is uncertain.

Some sports are male no matter who plays (rugby, fútbol Americano, caber toss).  There are sports in which men and women could compete together, but mostly don’t (shooting, NASCAR), and some where they compete cooperatively (figure skating, sailing, tennis).  There is no end of sports in which men and women compete separately.  But a few strongly feminine sports function as a useful control group for analyzing the failure of women to make good on sports in the same way men have.  Rhythmic gymnastics epitomizes this category, beginning with the perpetual accusation that it is not a real sport.  (That charge we will leave to the joyous disgruntled.)  Sport or not, what is to be made of the fact that rhythmic gymnastics exists at all?

Rhythmic gymnastics, in this country at least, is effectively girls only.  It is the...

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