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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Maybe this is why women's sports get no respect
Posted by Jill | 1:36 PM
Because women make men look like boors.

This morning I received from a friend one of those forwarded e-mails that we all hate. You know, the ones in 36-point type that tell some story (which usually turns out to be false or at best apocryphal) that's supposed to warm your heart and guilt you into forwarding it along to your own e-mail list, thereby perpetuating the spam forever. It's a lovely story, but it may or may not even be true. Parables are fine, but parables sold as truth are something else entirely.

But sometimes we don't need to rely on the One Percent Doctrine to get all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes the stories are true:
We live in a world where Peyton Manning walks off the Super Bowl field without shaking anybody's hand. Where Tiger Woods leaves the Masters without a word of thanks to the fans or congratulations to the winner. Where NFL lineman Albert Haynesworth kicks a man's helmetless head without a thought.

So if you think sportsmanship is toast, this next story is an all-you-can-eat buffet to a starving man.

It happened at a junior varsity girls' softball game in Indianapolis this spring. After an inning and a half, Roncalli was womanhandling inner-city Marshall Community. Marshall pitchers had already walked nine Roncalli batters. The game could've been 50-0 with no problem.

It's no wonder. This was the first softball game in Marshall history. A middle school trying to move up to include grades 6 through 12, Marshall showed up to the game with five balls, two bats, no helmets, no sliding pads, no cleats, 16 players who'd never played before, and a coach who'd never even seen a game.

One Marshall player asked, "Which one is first base?" Another: "How do I hold this bat?" They didn't know where to stand in the batter's box. Their coaches had to be shown where the first- and third-base coaching boxes were.

That's when Roncalli did something crazy. It offered to forfeit.

Yes, a team that hadn't lost a game in 2½ years, a team that was going to win in a landslide purposely offered to declare defeat. Why? Because Roncalli wanted to spend the two hours teaching the Marshall girls how to get better, not how to get humiliated.

"The Marshall players did NOT want to quit," wrote Roncalli JV coach Jeff Traylor, in recalling the incident. "They were willing to lose 100 to 0 if it meant they finished their first game." But the Marshall players finally decided if Roncalli was willing to forfeit for them, they should do it for themselves. They decided that maybe -- this one time -- losing was actually winning.

That's about when the weirdest scene broke out all over the field: Roncalli kids teaching Marshall kids the right batting stance, throwing them soft-toss in the outfield, teaching them how to play catch. They showed them how to put on catching gear, how to pitch, and how to run the bases. Even the umps stuck around to watch.


In a world where even the gentlest of sports uses metaphors for war, and one in which the arts and even academics often get short shrift in favor of men's school sports that favor players who believe not just in winning, but in pummeling the opposition into a pulp, here's a bunch of girls who take the idea that sports are about teamwork seriously.

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Blogger jurassicpork said...
OK, questions: Why didn't they have at least a couple of practices before their first game? The least you would expect of these kids is to know where first base is. The coaches didn't know where the coaching boxes were? The coach had never once seen a softball game?

Where the hell did they get these people from? Russia? Finland? Who the hell doesn't know where first base was and what business did they have assembling a team in which even the coaches were completely ignorant about even rudimentary diamond logistics?

I mean, seriously. Untalented and raw is one thing: But why try to break into a sport in which the ignorance is thorough even at the coaching level?