Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back in my day, girls played ball too!

In a feeble attempt to make time move faster, while sweating away on the gym treadmill, I tend to subject myself to television programs I wouldn’t wish on a Nazi or a pedophile. Yesterday, with my eyes glued to ESPN, I had the great fortune to catch a piece on “chatter” in little league baseball. The segment focused on how nowadays baseball chatter, such as “Hey batter batter batter, swiiiing, batter batter batter”, and dugout chants had gotten out of hand. Coaches and fans were interviewed to attest to their horror at the terrible sportsmanship these chants brought to the game. They stumbled over popular grandfather-ish sentiments, “It wasn’t like this back in my day,” and Christian pseudo-morality, “It just isn’t right.”

Now maybe this doesn’t raise your blood pressure, but even recalling these righteous sports fans, mine goes through the roof. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, however, I considered that maybe the chants had become more offensive since I was on the diamond. Of course this thought quickly faded as the cameras turned on the young chanting boys and I was hit with my own recognition of their cheers. Not only were they no more offensive than my mid-nineties softball chants, they were the exact same ones!

My anger was short-lived however when I was struck by my own familiarity with the game. I played softball for ten years, where were the girls’ teams on this program? Our games were overrun with chatter and chanting, how could they have completely forgotten about young female players? As I continued to watch, I became increasingly frustrated. If the footage had been only girls instead of boys, there is no way it would have gone by without comment. On the other hand, this segment became just another example of how males are not only the prototypical ball players, but also the prototypical human beings. Baseball aside, females make up the majority of the world’s population, but still we are deemed a deviation from the male norm. Maybe most folks assume that ESPN isn’t the most equality-minded station on the planet, but it’s still sad that their audience is being subjected to this kind of implicit sexism.

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