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Posts Tagged ‘female’

14-year-old Jaime Nared is making headlines across the country. So far, she’s been on ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s Headline News and featured in Thursday’s New York Times as well as big time sports blogs like The Bleacher Report. Why? Because she’s breaking barriers.

Gender barriers… in basketball.

The NY Times calls her “12 going on Candace Parker.” At 6 foot 1″, Nared is catching attention for her participation on Team Concept boys’ team in Portland, Oregon.

All was cool until a game back in April, when she scored 30 points. Suddenly, Jaime got a call from her coach who informed her that she was banned from planning on the team.

Interesting coincidence.

Apparently, Team Concept played in a league called Hoop, a private gym that runs the league that Team Concept plays in. All of a sudden, after her performance scoring 30 points, the league cited a previously unenforced rule against mixed-gender play.

Timing seems a little bit too perfect, doesn’t it?

Only problem now is the GIRLS don’t want her playing with them, either. Poor kid.

Girls teams don’t want her playing because she KILLS. Apparently, the last time she played against girls her age, the final score was 90-7. Her coach equated her participation with girls her age like Shaq playing on a high school team.

By forcing Jaime to play against girls her own age, she’s not getting any better.

The NY Times even says, “Playing with boys is a standard part of girls’ basketball training. Often it’s where talented girls can find the game best suited to their skills.”

So it is going to take some pushing.

It’s not surprising to me that there’s a strong-willed mom behind this effort.

When Jaime’s mother, Reiko Williams, heard that her daughter had been kicked off the boys’ team, she says she felt she needed to act. “I have three daughters,” she told the NY Times. “The world is going to give them pink and dolls. My two older daughters, Jackie and Jaime, want to play basketball. I feel it’s my job as a parent to help them be the best they can be at what they choose to do.”

After the league cut Jaime from the boys’ team, Jaimie’s mom called the Portland media. Then, a trail of media coverage and support followed.

When I read the NY Times article on Jaime last week, I sent it around to some of my blogger friends. One asked me whether I think Jaime should be allowed to compete with older girls or if she should compete against boys her age.

My answer..

Playing with the boys got her on Good Morning America.

I say stick with the boys.

Best of luck, Jaime!

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Last week, Olympic officials set up a “gender determination lab” to test the gender of female athletes suspected to be male. This spurred a beautifully written Op Ed in the New York Times. I encourage all readers (female athletes in particular) to take a look.

The subject of a “sex test” began back in 1968 when it was believed that Communist countries were using male athletes in women’s competitions.

But a “sex test” really describes the world’s obsession with the difference between what is male and what is female. Because excellence in athletics can sometimes blur that line, test are required to make sure no one crosses it.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, the writer for the NY Times Op Ed, says,

“The Olympic hosts seem to want to impose a binary order upon the messy continuum of gender. They are searching for concreteness and certainty in a world that contains neither.”

On the surface, the test seems fair. That is, until you consider where the tests are being conducted, and what type of cultural bias might be on the table.

Boylan says that China’s tests are likely to produce the wrong answers, because they measure “maleness” and “femaleness” differently. Also, the test is looking for a Y chromosome, and androgen sensitivities (a fairly common problem) could cause many females to test “positive” for “maleness.”

We can see the type of impact this result can have by listening to the story of  Santhi Soundarajan (pictured above), a runner from India who was “sex tested” in Asia in 2006.

“[Santhi Soundarajan] was stripped of her silver medal in the 800 meters at the Asian Games in 2006 for “failing” a sex test. An Indian athletics official told The Associated Press that Soundarajan had “abnormal chromosomes.” She was ridiculed in the press, and her career was destroyed. In the wake of her global humiliation, she attempted suicide.”

This test is not safe nor fair, and faulty results can cause public humiliation and shame. It could pose a serious problem for the women who we are sending overseas to compete, and is a topic that needs to be further discussed on a broader level.

In terms of putting this subject into words, listen to Ms. Boylan…

“It would be nice to live in a world in which maleness and femaleness were firm and unwavering poles. People can be forgiven for wanting to live in a world as simple as this, a place in which something as basic as gender didn’t shift unsettlingly beneath our feet.

But gender is malleable and elusive, and we need to become comfortable with this fact, rather than afraid of it.”

It will be interesting to see if we hear more on the “gender determination lab” which will test female athletes suspected of being male in Beijing.

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Sportsmanship extends far beyond the “man” part of the word. Women across the globe now participate in sports in alarming numbers. In America alone, more than 40,000 student-athletes participate in NCAA championship competition each year, and that’s just at the collegiate level. I don’t even know if the numbers exist for high school athletic participation, but I’m sure the number is incredible.

Participating in sports taught me about why it’s important to believe in dreams and other people. I’ve been playing sports since I was about six years old, and I’ve developed some amazing friends over the course of the past 16 years. Athleticism taught me how to be strong, and it taught me the true meaning and power of moral judgment – what many link to refer to as sportsmanship.

I saw a true example of sportsmanship in the New York Times Well blog, one of my favorites to read. Tara Parker-Hope writes, “If there already weren’t enough reasons to get your child involved in sports, the story of Sara Tucholsky will give you another one.”

This story is truly incredible. It’s a YouTube video that features a girl who played for Western Oregon University. She always dreamed of hitting a home run. In April, her dream came true as she slammed one over the fense. As she was rounding the bases, she drastically tore something in her knee and fell to the ground.

The umpire would not let anyone run the bases for her, and her teammates were not allowed to help her. So  a girl on the OPPOSITE TEAM asked the umpire if it was ok to carry her around the diamond. The umpire agreed. The girls said they did it because “she deserved it.”

When she got to home plate, everyone was crying with emotion. At her last at-bat of her career, she achieved her goal… only with the help of some true athletes.

This YouTube video has been influencing many people. At least 150,000 people have watched the video, featured by ESPN.

This is a true example of the power of “sportsmanship,” an athlete’s term for moral judgment. Check it out.

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