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So It Goes

Unlevel Playing Field
by Jason Love


May 16, 2005

I was standing in line behind 300 shoppers at Ralph's when I was approached by a local reader. She said that my column is getting "soft" and what about the good ol' days when I blasted the likes of car salesmen and vege-nazis. Then she bounded off to tennis, which appeared to constitute her sense of self.

jpg Jason Love

Maybe she was right. It has been a while since I've let someone have it. If I'm not careful, I could write myself into obsolescence. For my next trick, then, I will be blatantly female athletes.

Why are we subjected to female sports on TV? The other day I came home in dire need of seeing a ball in flight. When I turned on the tube, my choices were women's tennis, women's softball, and women's hockey. Women's hockey! I can't remember if I laughed or I cried. Sometimes it's a fine line between the two.

Hear me out. This is not male chauvinism; it's athletic chauvinism. Men are not superior to women; in fact, it's likely the other way around. Women look better, smell better, and are capable of thinking with both sides of their brain. I will be the first to vote for a female President, as men have blown up their opportunities.

When I watch sports, however, I want to see the crème de la crème regardless of color, creed, or gender. If chimpanzees play better football, then give me the CFL (Chimp Football League).

I understand that promoters want women athletes to take the spotlight. After all, like, half of us are female. So now we have commercials glorifying Mia Hamm, Cammy Granato, and Serena Williams, fine-tuned athletes who could blacken my eye before I say, "Just kidding." But my point remains: sports programming should cater solely to the quality of competition.

It is unlucky that women are smaller than men. It is also unlucky that I have a one-foot vertical leap. The only difference is that I don't expect ESPN to film me leaping. Should we hype a balding, pudgy, under-6-feet-tall Caucasian basketball league? Nonsense. Tall black men are better at basketball than short white men (or than tall white men for that matter). We want to see Bryant and Iverson because they are the crème.

In the 70's karate expert Beth Bussy challenged a man -- any man -- to a karate match. Her offer was accepted by Joe Hess, a full-contact world champion kickboxer who weighed two of her and wasn't very friendly. Her goal was to prove that women were equal to men in every way -- even physically. During the bout Joe got a little rough and Beth got a little upset. She took off her gloves and charged Joe, who knocked her out cold. Live. On the Wide World of Sports.

Female athletes have come a long way since then, but not so far that they don't have wide hips or menstrual cycles. Nature isn't interested. It reminds of me of when I tried out for the varsity football team before I was big enough -- hell, I'm still not big enough. Every time I moved in for a tackle, I was straight-armed to the dirt and told to "move it, runt."

I am not saying that women are runts. I am just saying that female sports are to male sports what the minor leagues are to the majors. As such, female sports should not be sucking up valuable airtime when a men's hockey game is being played anywhere in the world.

I still value women over men as human beings. Let's face it -- championship rings aren't terribly important in the grand scheme of things. Women should be actively involved in sports for all its benefits. But when I turn on the tube in need of high-end, no-holds-barred combat, don't break my heart with women's basketball.

And if you took this column personally, let it be a lesson about what can happen when you tell a man that he's getting soft.

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Copyright 2005 Jason Love
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