Man vs. woman. Woman vs. man.
Now that the madness of college basketball has concluded (at least until the fanaticism of college football begins), I am reminded of a lingering issue, as highlighted again by the major sports’ media last week. For the record, this blog is not about sports. Hence, my respected non-sports fans, please keep reading.
A growing trend in women’s basketball — both college and professional — is for teams to practice against men. This trend started several years ago, and the exercise has evolved to a degree in which many teams actually host tryouts for the male practice squads. According to an ESPN survey of last year’s top 25 teams, 92% of the women’s teams use male practice players at least some of the time.
Why? According to Kelsey Bone, center for last year’s ladies of Texas A&M, the 2011 champions, “When we’re successful in practice against guys, it helps us and gives us confidence going into the games.”
Or according to Bones’ teammate, guard Sydney Carter, “I think it’s made me a lot smarter; it’s definitely made me quicker. They give me the chance to learn the game at a different level, and so when I get to the women’s game and I’m playing against women, I feel like I’m a step ahead all the time.”
But as perhaps some imagined, regardless of whether or not it gives the women confidence or makes them smarter and/or quicker, some are vehemently protesting the practice and asking the NCAA to eliminate the exercise. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics says this “violates the spirit of gender equity and Title IX” (Title IX is the legislation which requires that gender never be cause for exclusion from education programs receiving federal financial assistance; granted, athletics were never mentioned in the original statute).
The Title IX aspect of the opposition has ample validity. Some are concerned that by utilizing men, less female scholarships are offered because not as many players are needed on the team for practice purposes; hence, fewer female scholarships are offered. The question, though, is the validity regarding “gender equity.”
Gender equity. Man vs. woman. Woman vs. man.
Equity. Fairness. Ah, a current, populist buzz word.
Even though most all involved admit that the use of male athletes makes practice more competitive and challenges the women’s teams in an unprecedented way, many still camp on the issue of fairness. It’s not fair to use men.
Friends, when we utilize the concept of “fairness” to frame demographic differences — instead of embracing, celebrating, learning and growing — my sense is that we miss the available wisdom. While all men were created equal, the Declaration’s prudent proclamation should not be equated with God creating us male and female, each beautifully distinct. Equal rights does not equate to equal gifting nor ability.
Thus, we would be a healthier, more discerning culture if we recognized that not all people are the same. Men and women do things differently. While no stereotype is 100% full-proof, there are certain activities that men as a whole and women as a whole do typically better or worse. After all, as best as I can tell, only 6 women have ever dunked in a college or professional game. Men and women are different. In more than just basketball.
The point of this blog is not about dunking nor about sports. My desire instead is to erase the notion that the differences between genders is something to be “battled.” If we celebrated our differences instead of fighting their existence, we would be wiser. There would be fewer “chips on shoulders” and less division in society. My desire is to eliminate the embracing of division.
We certainly are a fickle society… embracing division when it serves us, but claiming “fairness” when we’re uncomfortable. There need not be a battle of any sexes.
Regardless of the court.