Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Can Tackle, Too! Oh, Wait. I'm Not Allowed.

Aha! I knew there had to be feminists out there who wrote about our good FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) buddy Sepp Blatter after his horrific suggestion back in 2004. I just now happily stumbled across this post which fits nicely into my next tirade on the state of women sports.

I briefly alluded to this topic in my last comment on the Skirts Flying post. Charlottesville, VA has a fabulous soccer league for kids and adults. I respect the city for all they do to promote this sport. However, I am not without one wee complaint. I always found it quite infuriating that the women's matches were always assigned to the worst fields in town, were given only one field referee, and generally that referee was a little high school boy who clearly did not want to be out on that pitch.

So, that wee complaint leads into my aforementioned tirade. Can *ANY*one explain to me why there are different rules for women's sports versus men's? For instance, this applies to: softball vs. baseball (I mean how pitiful is that...we don't even get the same name), lacrosse, hockey, tennis, gymnastics. At least I no longer have to include 6-on-6 basketball anymore, although I would like to point out that it was in existence in my home state of Oklahoma until 1995. Perhaps that experience foreshadowed my future life as a feminist because I railed against that injustice even back then by refusing to play that game.

I go back to the post I referred to above. I am not saying that I have an issue with making a distinction between men's and women's sports as far as the competition aspect of it goes. I generally have no desire to play against a man. I am fully aware of my strength limitations in comparison. I'm 5'2-1/2". I am quite sure that I would be flattened if I played lacrosse against a guy. However, why on earth change the rules for women playing against women? I never got into lacrosse because checking is not allowed. If I had any skating skills whatsoever I still would not want to play ice hockey because checking is not allowed. I did, however, play rugby because I got to tackle people. Such fun! Seriously.

It causes me endless amounts of ire to see that women are still treated as delicate little flowers who should not be encouraged to participate in physical contact sports. In fact, not only should they not be encouraged, we should not even allow those type of rules to exist so women don't have access to physical contact sports at all. Now *there* is a bloody brilliant idea!


Casmall said...

I have to agree with you about the excellent SOCA (Soccer Organization of Charlottesville Albemarle). It has no equal that I'm aware of and I miss it so. I think its greatness comes in large part through community support, UVA is serious soccer power with historic links to the US national team.
I agree with you that the womens teams get the short end of the stick. I've played on almost every SOCA field in C-ville and I can tell you they give the bad ones to the womens league. These field really suck, they're ankle turners and killers, a real disgrace.
They are however superior to the fields down in Atl. This town is kind of soccer hostile. You aren't allowed to play on the public fields in cleats, and if a pick up game looks to "organized" they can through you out of the park.
Last time I was in C-ville they had just passed a measure for a new multi-mil indoor complex.

Mächtige Maus said...

Do does one make a pick up soccer game *not* look organized?

rkc said...

I grew up playing soccer competitively at the club and varsity level in Southern California, which is a hotbed for soccer. According to the Cal South Website, the governing body for Southern California soccer, 25% of the 2003 Women’s World Cup team grew up playing soccer for Cal South teams. I would like to think that myself and my teammates played soccer at a very high level. It did not seem that as a women’s team, we were treated worse by the league by being placed on inferior fields or only given one referee instead of three, as the league in your post does. By and large we played on the same fields as the boys. I find it terrible that a league would place girl’s games on the worst fields. Soccer is an incredibly popular sport today with young girls. Today, 40% of the children who play AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) Soccer are girls, so they are a segment of the soccer-playing population that should not be left out.
Granted, it is not fair to compare men’s and women’s soccer because the style of play is different, however, when you really get down to it, the fundamentals of the game are the same. The rules of soccer are the same for men and women. For example, a takedown from behind on a breakaway is an automatic red card in the club league that I played in for both men’s and women’s teams. Soccer itself is a universal language and where no matter where you play the rules are always the same. That is one of the reasons why it is such a popular game around the world. The women’s game, although it may not be as fast-paced as the men’s game is still entertaining and fun to watch, as is evidenced by the Women’s World Cup, which is currently going on in China. The games are being televised every morning on ESPN and ESPN2, which shows that the game of soccer and specifically women’s soccer is being exposed to a wide audience. Overall, I feel that the popularity of women’s soccer will continue to grow and develop, and a large part of that could be contributed to the fact that the rules of the game are the same as the men’s game.

La Pobre Habladora said...

I believe that one way we discourage girls from participating in sports as children is by giving them alternate rules for the same sport - the clear message is that sport is not really for them and, while they can participate in a watered down version, they will not be taken seriously. It is not surprising that girls gravitate towards sports that do not make this distinction or to other activities where they will be allowed to participate fully, and where their efforts will be more appreciated.

I fully agree with rkc that the difference mentioned between the SOCA fields given to men and those given to women is a travesty - perhaps it is time for us to write some letters? Who is up for a protest? Surely this disparity would be easily documented and, in a soccer-loving community like Charlottesville, it would be easy to get community support.

Casmall said...

I have to say that the C-ville youth leagues all play on the same fields. Its the adult women league that gets the bad ones.