It’s a busy Saturday as usual in the babble manor, which is not unheard of in homes where children abide. There is the sudden wake up, the realization that someone has to make sure that the humans in the house eat something because apparently they have to have fuel in order to grown, and the scramble to get ready for one event or another for every Saturday, it seems, is jam packed.
Today it was a skills assessment for softball, for Kid is now officially old enough that she must diverge from playing baseball and start playing softball like all the other big girls. She had decent fielding, apparently throws like a girl, depending on who you ask, and can really crack a ball across a field, which is pretty awesome. It also did not go unremarked upon that coaches really like having lefties on their teams, it seems.
I have a rough time handling my mixed feelings about the baseball/softball divide. I love the way that in younger years the kids have a common way to bond, irrespective of their gender identity. They just play baseball. That is where Kid met who I would say is her best friend she has ever made, and had she been on a segregated team they would not have met, he would not have invited her to his birthday party that summer, and they would not have bonded so well. There are so few places where kids are treated the same as coed sports teams.
On the other hand, I love the way that sports like softball are all for girls and women. I know so many women who played softball growing up who remember fondly the experience of having a team that was their own. While I watch in silent anger the way that baseball is privileged over softball in so many ways, and the way that women who are skilled in softball will never go on to receive the same accolades that their baseball counterparts will, I know that the women who play in these leagues take away a special team experience.
It can not be unlike my own track and field experience, or cross country, where we were encouraging of each other in ways that I never had in other areas of my life, but I’ve seen enough of team sports to know that a team people who work in individual events doesn’t work quite the same.
So, while we are toiling away tonight in our Spring cleaning, CLEANING ALL THE THINGS, I ponder the ways that I am both indignant on account of the segregation of young children into baseball and softball, but I am slightly grateful for it all the same.
I am grateful that girls growing up have a space for sports where they can be with each other and encourage each other where they can be treated with respect and lift each other up for their skills without being brought down with things like “you did that pretty well for a girl” (though, my buddy from the youth sports center did ask a girl at the assessment today if she was “too cute to get dirty”). I just know that there is no such thing as “separate but equal”, and the softball/baseball divide is one such of these. No matter how the rules of Title IX tried to make it so.