Monday, August 18, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Bikinis

So, yeah, beach volleyball players wear little outfits.

The women who play are uniformly gorgeous, so I guess they feel no need to cover all that hottness up with, well, uniforms. I'm watching May and Walsh play the semi-final match, and so are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. I doubt the outfits are lost on them.

Anyway, I'm intrigued by how good May and Walsh are. They are, by far, the dominant team. Last time I watched, their match count was something like 457-9. And right now they are trouncing the Brazilians 14-6. Make that 15-6.

I think it's a shame they don't play against men. I bet they could take on many of the best men's teams in the world and still come out on top. Sure, the net is higher in men's volleyball, and on average the men are probably taller, but Walsh is well over 6' herself. I'm not worried.

I read this book for a review I never wrote for the AAUW member magazine. It was about the idea that sex-segregated sports do a disservice to the best women, because they never have a chance to go up against the best competition--men. After reading the arguments of authors Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano, it's difficult to disagree with them.

As a former rugby player and now runner, I certainly see the arguments in favor of letting women win by separating them out of the men's competition. While Paula Radcliffe can beat her countrymen, she hasn't yet clocked a marathon time that would beat the male world record holder. And she probably never will. Winning is likely more rewarding than always coming in behind a handful of men, but Radcliffe still comes in ahead of the vast majority of men running marathons.

At the lower levels of sports, sex segregation might be a good idea, especially to introduce girls to their sport. Boys can be intimidating, and they therefore tend to dominate on the pitch. McDonagh and Pappano are in favor of voluntary segregation--they are protesting forced sex segregation. It's a fine distinction, but an important one. While the scrawniest, nerdiest, most athletically disinclined boy could try out for his school's football team if he wanted to, it's likely that the most athletic, talented girl at his school could not, simply because she's a girl. And when you look at it that way, it doesn't seem fair.

So May and Walsh might not have any interest in competing against the top men, but it might be good for their game. And it might also make for good tv. Provided the dudes wore correspondingly skimpy outfits.

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