exactly that

Posts tagged ‘sports’

When Girls Grow Up in a Title IX World…

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.

Cheering for Cheerleaders…

A pale native american girl with dyed red hair and blue-grey eyes. She is wearing a white turtle-neck shirt under a red, white, and blue cheerleading uniform. She is smiling.

Is that your best "peppy cheerleader" smile? Really? Ha!

Kid has had an amazing time as a flag football cheerleader this past season.

I know, I know… many of you reading this blog maybe have a lot of biased opinions that are very steeped in stereotypes about cheerleaders and the sport of cheerleading itself.

Yes, I said sport.

I watched this season as Kid had an incredible time, and I expected her to have fun, learn a thing or two, ya know. Maybe finally get the hang of a cart-wheel.*

The very first day, with all of the girls** gathered in front of the coach, who was an active duty volunteer and handled it very matter-of-factly. I heard a lot of talk about cheerleaders being “girly” and “peppy” and how they “always smile”. I groaned to myself a lot that day, and almost rolled the eyebrows right off of my big ol’ forehead (or “fivehead” as The Guy affectionately calls it).

But in true drill sergeant style, there were push-ups, there were laps to run, and there were basics to learn, learn, learn. To anyone out there who doesn’t believe that cheerleading is a sport I will refer you to the athleticism required to repeatedly do the jumps demanded of these girls. It was a great way for these girls to burn off their energy, and wonderful exercise for them. They always came home ready for bed (bonus!) What was more, they were having fun doing it.

Eventually they were broken down into squads by age groups, and Kid’s squad was about a dozen girls, give or take. The coach of the smaller squad was less of the “you all are going to be girly” mind, and made a lot of fun cheers. She enlisted a parent volunteer who used to be a cheerleader. We all made ribbons for their hair and took turns bringing snacks, and they cheered at all of the flag football games.

What happened here was a group of young girls put on their first uniforms, which gave them pride, and they worked together, building a sense of team unity, helping each other learn routines and different moves. As the season moved along the became confident in their ability to jump, kick, and yell their hearts out. They learned how to yell the “right” way (without hurting your voice). Some of them were only able to master the moves or the words at first (remember, we are dealing with third and fourth graders), and eventually they put them together. Maybe it is because I am a mum, but really, the whole things was adorable. *squee*

They developed self-esteem. I saw girls who were shy run and grab a crowd of parents’ attention, and rouse them to cheering. I saw them have the courage to make mistakes, recover, and move on, which is a life skill that even some adults I know don’t have. I didn’t learn that until high school marching band. Recovery is a tough lesson to master.

Yes, I also saw some pettiness, I saw some mean-spirited actions, and I saw a girl kick another girl and tell her she was stupid for messing up… I am not naive enough to think that this kind of behaviour does not happen… but to be fair, I also saw the same thing on the co-ed soccer team that Kid participated in and also on the football teams that she cheered for. This behaviour is neither the sole property of girls nor cheerleaders. Pettiness and being a jerk is an equal opportunity trait, and we as adults, especially those of us who labour in social justice circles, are keenly aware of that.

Mostly, I saw how being part of a cheerleading team made my girl a better person, a more confident person (and a bit of a better speller, HA! Just kidding, she was already an ace at that one!) and a girl who knew how to be a supportive team player. At the end of season banquet when they all got their participation trophies (that reminded Kid of Amy’s mom from S1 of Buffy) they all stood around with the megaphones and altered a cheer and devoted it to their coaches, thanking them.

I honestly feel that cheerleading — even among F*eminists, who claim to be about equal opportunities and about supporting choices for women and girls, and who want them to be proud of those choices — gets a really harsh rap. It gets treated as a non-sport, as if it is an accessory worn by the boys’ and mens’ sports of the world. I have even heard cheerleaders called mouthpieces of schools, as an excuse to force a girl to cheer for her rapist. Cheerleaders are automatically presumed to be of a certain subset of people, and dismissed as stupid, ditzy, rich, stuck up, slutty, gay if you are a guy… you get the point.

As a woman who grew up as part of the Title IX Generation, I am appalled that we are not doing more to recognized cheerleading for the sport that it is, for the athleticism that it requires, and for the team spirit it inspires in the people who participate in it. I am also appalled that we do not do more to insist on giving it its due as part of athletic programs, to make sure that it is considered an equal to other sports programs, and that the people who participate in it are not stigmatized. We don’t promote the competitive events, we assume that team spirit is where it ends.

Watching my cheerleader this season confirms that there should be no shame, and that she has every reason to feel the pride that she does.

*No. She did not.

**There were only girls on the squads this year, but I checked, and the team is open to any boys and young men who are interested. I suspect that social conditioning in the military community probably curbs the interest. Maybe? Hmm…

Photo © Brandann R. Hill-Mann. All Rights Reserved.

Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger

Tip of the Hat:

Photobucket 

Photo via Getty Images

To super awesome, kick ass (and super duper awesomely eye candy worthy) Australian diver Matthew Mitchem, who caused a huge upset and won a gold medal over the favored Chinese diver, Zhou Luxin. (more…)

08/08/08 — It’s Your Lucky Day!

Triple 8’s in Chinese are similar to the association we make here w/ Triple 7’s.  The Arabic numeral for 8, which is used widely in China, is a constant loop, representing longevity.  The syllable for 8 in Chinese (八) or “ba” when spoken sounds similar to the word for 100 (百) “bai”, and represents a long life or living for a hundred years.  It also sounds similar to a slang word (发) “fa”, which means “to hit the jackpot”.  In Cantonese the word for 8 “baat” sounds like “faat”, which is the word for prosperity.  I don’t speak a lick of Cantonese, so I will have to take the word of the people I know who do on that one.

Today is a lucky day to be born, to have a birthday, and to get married.  The Olympics open today.* (more…)

Detroit Rocks the Casbah

a very special congratulations are in order to this year’s Stanley Cup Champions.

good to know that while i am away Hockeytown still has it.

rock the fuck on!

 

i really just needed some good news!

Feminism Goes Too Far?

cross posted at Shakesville! 

Hi Shakers!!!1!!one!

I suffer from insomnia, so when I was reading the news last night instead of staring at the ceiling I came across an article in the Detroit Free Press online (I still keep up w/ news in my home state from 6000 miles away), freep.com, and while I was bleary eyed and trying to write a coherent response to it, I decided that maybe someone better should do it, w/ more readership, and I emailed the link to Liss.

She was so not going to let me off the hook.  Instead, she asked if I was interested in guest blogging at Shakesville, which honestly hadn’t occurred to me.  The idea made me *squee* so hard that I almost wet myself.  Then I looked at my post, and thought “Crap, someone might actually read this”.  So I toiled a little more, hoping to bring to Shakers something worthy of the reputation that Shakesville so deserves.  To say I am feeling pretty special and lucky right now is not accurate.   

So, here goes.

(more…)

Yay Giants!

that is all

Tag Cloud