Thursday, February 16, 2006

General Sports Rant Without a Real Point

I have seen a number of humorous things written about snowboarding in the last few days. But for those people who persist in making fun of it, I have the following words of wisdom: at least these guys aren't wearing makeup while swishing around in a swimming pool doing synchronized swimming, which is a real head scratcher of a sport. And also that Jumping About with Streamers thing they do in the summer Olympics.

OK. I am a horrific sports snob. If you feel compelled to wear makeup while doing something people claim to be a sport because all the other competitors are doing it, I would question whether you are in fact participating in a sport. Into this vast category, I would throw most of ice skating, especially the new 'ice dancing' category, which after seeing one promotional clip for pairs ice dancing, my husband promptly referred to as Ice Fucking. Gymnastics goes into the ? really a sport category as well, mostly because of the makeup, hair glitter, and prepubscent thing. Ditto ice skating on the prepubscent business.

Don't even get me started about two 'sports' that infantilize women both through costuming and posturing, as well as by redefining the scoring boundaries to favor the immature female body. Everytime some little kid has a gymnastics party and my daughter is invited, I live in fear that she'll start asking me if she can do it. So far she doesn't show much interest. We'll make a lacrosse player of her yet.

I do not want my daughter growing up thinking that real women put glitter in their hair while competing in athletic events. Yes, I was on a track team growing up. Yes, we made fun of girls who played sports in which sweat might still be considered 'icky.' Yes, we believed ourselves to be the standard bearers of female jockdom.

I think the Olympics needs to draw a finer line between 'sports' and 'performance.' To me, sports is basically quantitative: how fast, how far, how high, how many points scored by a team. Yes, dancers are athletes, but that doesn't mean that dance is a sport. Dance is artistic expression. Sport is not about artistic expression. It's about winning or pushing your body to its personal best. It's about the pushing the envelope of the body's physical limitations. It can be transcendental, but it's not about being pretty.

A step in the right direction: all of the male ice skaters I've seen in the singles competition are actually wearing relatively conservative costumes. Why do female ice skaters have to wear those poufy little Barbie skirts? Why can't they wear pants or speed skater outfits?

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