Men with insecurities sound more braggartly
August 3, 2018 5:17 AM   Subscribe

Two-time WNBA championship winner Devereaux Peters in an Washington Post op-ed: I’m a WNBA player. Men won’t stop challenging me to play one-on-one.
posted by palindromic (98 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
I want to hug her. Not because she needs a hug, because clearly she doesn't, but because after reading that, I feel like I could use one.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:32 AM on August 3, 2018 [17 favorites]


Basic Bobby! What a delightful set of words.

When I was younger, I was asked to play an Indian sport called kho kho with the girls for practice as my school didn't have a boys team.

I was super excited to play as I had played with the boys in my previous school and was dying to play again. Only two of us guys ended up practicing with the girls though because even at that age, it was considered humiliating to be beaten by a girl. What was worse was even some of the women teachers felt this way.

I never quite understood that impulse to challenge women and then get butt hurt when they are much better than the man thought they would be.It's sadly not restricted to just sports as I've seen many an engineer/programmer assume the woman engineer in the team isn't worth listening to because she can't really be smart, can she.

Props to Deveraux for this article. I didn't realize this was a thing as my only reaction would be to exclaim how awesome it was to meet a professional ball player. Us men could stand to be more humble and respectful in all our interactions.
posted by viramamunivar at 5:39 AM on August 3, 2018 [35 favorites]


Ugh, I have a friend who went through a stretch where he claimed he could score -- just score once, not win -- in a one-on-one game against "the worst WNBA player." Which is clearly untrue. He'd barely get to touch the ball.

He has since rescinded that claim, but still. MEN! Other people -- even women! who are, believe it or not, also people! -- are allowed to be better than you at things.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:47 AM on August 3, 2018 [35 favorites]


That reminds me of this thread from Sandra Newman on Twitter, recounting her time as a professional gambler when she was young.

"This is a thread about being a professional gambler, and generally about trying to be cool while female. It comes with a trigger warning for misandry. Anyone who doesn't like misandry shouldn't read this. I'll be misandering up a storm in this thread."
posted by slipthought at 5:54 AM on August 3, 2018 [35 favorites]


I love this. Men in general around basketball overrate their own abilities so much that they constantly have to be put in their place. And even then they will make excuses. When Brian Scalabrine played in the league, people considered him one of the weakest players. He started using “The White Mamba” (Kobe nicknamed himself the Black Mamba) as a joke because he was clearly not on Kobe’s level. And these random ballers with random jobs would think they could beat him, until finally after he left the league, he did a thing where he played guys one on one. And he beat the guys, most easily.

The average baller doesnt really get how good collegiate and pro players are. The person at the tail end of the bench would look like Jordan against everyday players, and I’ve seen tons of stories about retired players - guys who are supposedly now washed up - showing up at an open gym and shooting like 22-24, or not missing a shot all night.

So add to that the ridiculous fragile masculinity a lot of guys sign up to, and its just compounded. And she spoke truth saying pros don’t disrespect them, its these knuckleheads. I love this article and just know there are still goofballs that will read it and still think they could beat her. Or that they could step on a court with random friends and beat (W)NBA players.
posted by cashman at 6:06 AM on August 3, 2018 [34 favorites]


I used to play pickup basketball at the Potrero Hill Rec Center in SF from time to time. I'm a terrible player but had fun playing with a fantastic mix of people and skill levels. One day there was a woman on the opposite team that was head and shoulders and waist and all the way down to her ankles above everyone else on the floor. Whatever she wanted to do, she did, scored from everywhere.

During the game (not long, 15 minutes maybe) I didn't see her get anything at all from the other people playing. No extra trash talk, no boasting or taunting, just playing the game and having fun. It was really great to see and be a part of.

Next day I found out she was the top scorer in the WNBA at the time. True story.
posted by Walleye at 6:15 AM on August 3, 2018 [33 favorites]


I worked in TV for a while in the mid-90s, and my boss was always trying to think up programming ideas. One idea he had - that actually got t the point that we did some test footage - was a sort of battle-of-the-sexes series of pickup games at colleges, setting up three-on-three matches with three women from the women's team and three men from the men's intramural team. We set up a test-of-concept match at Fordham University and sent up a film crew to film the match, complete with pre- and post-game interviews with various players. And of course the women cleaned the men's clocks - it was something like 4-0.

And also of course, one of the guys on the men's team was this boastful dudebro; he had enough of a teasing grin that you could let him slide with a little bit of "okay, maybe he's just talking smack to be funny," and the others were treating him like he was just full of hot air to be funny; it did make for comedy in the piece. He was still saying things like "yeah, we guys are gonna take this easy" and at the end he was saying things like "okay, we lost this match, but whatever, if Rebecca Lobo wants to come down and take me on i bet it'd be different."

Our post-production guy took great delight in using that clip at the very end, stopping and holding at a point when he was giving the camera this doofusy smirk, and then plastering a chryon with "Final Score: Women 4 - Men 0" right over his face.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [55 favorites]


I think she’s wrong about real estate agents, though, or that this doesn’t happen in every profession. You’d be surprised how often some man trips over his own feet unselfconsciously displaying his fears of manhood in every sector of life. Basic Bobby really gets around. What’s amazing about her story is that unlike real estate agents, she is so clearly the embodiment of “will trounce you” that you’d think a guy would know better. But there’s always a guy....

Basic Bobby. That’s the best.
posted by amanda at 6:40 AM on August 3, 2018 [14 favorites]


From the comments to the original post: Men who are practice partners for women's basketball teams. They are a useful challenge but not as good at playing.

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/xyjeek/you-will-get-beat-down-the-men-who-practice-with-the-wnba
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:43 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


The thing that stood out to me in her story was how many, many men went straight to assaulting her (under the cover of the game) once they were revealed as inferior to her. That she refuses casual games not because she's tired of the obvious win, but that she knows physical abuse and assault are inevitable and she had to protect her livelihood.

It's shocking (though i guess it shouldn't be) how many men will take an opportunity to hit a woman.
posted by Dashy at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2018 [125 favorites]


Instead, it’s always the men with the broken hoop dreams who didn’t have the grades or the talent to play in college. The men who “dominate” in their 25-and-up rec league at the gym. The ones who know absolutely nothing about playing basketball at this level but are still strong enough to rough me up when things go south.
Reminds me of the Co-Ed Sports Leagues thread from last week, especially the comments wondering why people get so ridiculously competitive in "casual" leagues.
posted by clawsoon at 6:57 AM on August 3, 2018 [14 favorites]


Time and time again, I have trounced men — far too many to count. Now I have nothing to prove.

Is there a youtube megamix of her doing this? Because there is in my daydream.

I also want to play with her now. For fun! She's a pro!
posted by adept256 at 7:00 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's shocking (though i guess it shouldn't be) how many men will take an opportunity to hit a woman.

I have a 4" long, 1" wide scar on my right elbow from being pushed, while running on asphalt, by a guy friend – A FRIEND – who shoved me after – AFTER – I scored a touchdown playing street football.

Street. Football. We weren't even keeping score, we were just futzing around, and dude got pissed off because I, the only woman playing, scored. No one else was ever injured.

This is a dude who played several team sports, so he knew what a foul was, and further knew that there are also certain lines you just don't cross, such as, y'know, shoving someone while they're running when a play is over. On grass. Much less on fucking asphalt.

Twenty years later and he's still ashamed of himself, but as I asked him: what was he expecting? And dudes wonder why we don't believe them when they say they're sorry.
posted by fraula at 7:06 AM on August 3, 2018 [81 favorites]


I should also add that, for the longest time, since he was/still is A FRIEND, I took him at his word when he profusely apologized and said he didn't mean it. But the older I get, and the more sadistic, gratuitous cruelty I and other women get subjected to, the harder I look at how it played out and realize... he knew what he was doing. He shoved me while running on asphalt. I believe he didn't "mean" to hurt me, but now I believe it in the sense that he didn't see me as a full human being, until it was our other friends digging bits of asphalt out of the gash in my arm on his kitchen table and his parents came home and gave him holy hell.
posted by fraula at 7:10 AM on August 3, 2018 [58 favorites]


The guys who move to hacking and shoving as they realize they're losing--this can come out of thoughtless anger, channeled through misogyny, and it can also be them clinging to their initial, unstated belief: that they can show their superiority somehow via their masculinity.

They assume that their masculinity gives them an advantage when they issue the challenge--and they presume that their advantage lies in better skill or strength. When the actual game puts the lie to that, they don't reevaluate their initial presumption of superiority; they just shift its rationale: maybe it's not because guys are more skilled, but because they're stronger. Oh, wait, maybe its' because they're more willing to 'get physical.' And then the shoving and hitting starts. Because it's easier to reconceive masculinity as pointless violence instead of addressing its presumptions of superiority.
posted by pykrete jungle at 7:38 AM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


I keep thinking about the fucker/fuckee mindset that many men have, and I wonder how much it plays into stuff like this. I wasn't raised with it, so it's possible that I don't understand it perfectly, but it seems like it's a binary system: You can only be one or the other. If you consider yourself a fucker, you constantly have to prove it; you can be changed into a fuckee at any time, which means that you can be abused with impunity. If anyone is doing things that only fuckers should be able to do, and you think they're a fuckee - and it seems that in this scheme virtually all women and homosexual men are considered fuckees - you have an obligation to prove to them and yourself and the world that you can still dominate them. You have to maintain the binary. You have to "put them in their place." You have to prove that the binary system is true and that you are on the top of it so that you can keep enjoying its advantages.

Why you'd put yourself in a position to be thoroughly humiliated in terms of your own worldview, though, like these Basic Bobbies are doing, I don't know. The fucker/fuckee ideology seems to tell them that they are, in fact, better, and that's why they deserve their privileges. They seem to actually believe the delusions that maintain the ideology.
posted by clawsoon at 7:41 AM on August 3, 2018 [26 favorites]


I became a fan of Devereaux Peters during her years at Notre Dame. She's just signed with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. She's one of the sport's greats.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:51 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm not a sportsy person by any stretch of the imagination, but I grew up near the University of Connecticut, and UConn's women's basketball has loomed reeeeeeal large. Particularly in the 90s, when Rebecca Lobo was there. I was just a few years out of college and new to NYC when Rebecca was with the Huskies, and I sort of casually was paying attention for the hometown angle and the yay-girl-power angle. The WNBA was just getting going when I was with that TV company as well.

She's been interviewed by David Letterman a couple times - I just found one where he does....okay interviewing her; there is a weird moment where he remarks on how their coach is a guy and he asks if that feels weird, but when he introduces her he says that she's regarded as "the best college athlete this year" (and not "the best college women's athlete").

Have also read up on her bio a bit. She's married to a Sports Illustrated writer, and apparently the story about how they met is that he'd recently written a column where he brushed off WNBA games as "boring" and she saw him in a bar later and called him on it: "How many games have you actually been to?...." and he admitted he hadn't been to any. And instead of grinding him into a thin paste she invited him to come see a game.

There's a hopeful note to end on - apparently once, when she was at home watching a UConn mens' basketball game on TV, her then 4-year-old daughter came into the room and saw what was on TV. "Are those boys playing?" she asked, amazed. "I didn't know boys played basketball!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on August 3, 2018 [73 favorites]


When I was getting ready to start high school, I went to a summer sports camp at the university here. The counselor assigned to our group was a starter for Arizona’s women’s basketball team. I learned really damn quick just how good she was at hoops. It was an experience I was glad I had. Women’s basketball has long been looked down upon as an inferior sport - it’s not. It’s a different game from the men’s game because a lot of that game is played above the rim. But the women are really damn good. (I remember she joined us in a game of horse. She went out about 30 feet and casually swished a jumper. Game didn’t last long.) Abd especially if you’re in the WNBA, you’ve already proved you’re among the best. I don’t understand why some guys feel the need to challenge them to prove themselves yet again.
posted by azpenguin at 7:54 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Anecdote Filter: When I was much younger, my Uncle got married to a nice woman from Wisconsin and her kid sister was close to my age. After the wedding, we played some two on two with my jock cousins, and I got paired up with the jockier of the two versus my other cousin and being a nineteen year old guy, we got all puffed up about playing against a girl.

Little did we know that she was on the local high school team and she proceeded to wipe the court with us. She eventually went pro overseas, but I'll never ever forget just how much my personal worldview was utterly shattered that sunny day in Menominee.
posted by Sphinx at 7:57 AM on August 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


> They seem to actually believe the delusions that maintain the ideology.

Well that's pretty much the definition of a delusion.

I once found my five-year-old son trying to drive away in my car. I stopped him from doing it and made it clear that he shouldn't try that again. I didn't stop to think that maybe it would be OK for him to do that and I was just deluded to think it wasn't OK for him to do it even though it's OK for me to do it. That would apply whether I was deluded or not; such are delusions.
posted by merlynkline at 8:11 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I played sports in a dinky high school, and professional players would occasionally be involved in our activities. The pros were constantly being challenged by the not even college-worthy stars on our team. Arm wrestling, pickup basketball, running races, dunking, you name it. There is definitely misogyny to it, but I swear 50% of it is that the average person doesn't realize how much faster/stronger - more athletically gifted - pros are than dabblers. Look at the common questions at Deadspin.com (kinda jokey sports site) - can XXX super professional athlete dunk a basketball? I'm sure that goes double for every female pro.

Also, the advice given by every basketball coach I ever had, when a single player was dominant, was to get physical with them, which implied putting them on the floor. So the wackos who are hitting when they are beaten are just doing what 6 years of coaching told them to do. Yeah, high school sports is a mostly awful enterprise.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:12 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: I'll never ever forget just how much my personal worldview was utterly shattered that sunny day in Menominee
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 8:16 AM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


I once played one-on-one against a member of the UW-Madison women's basketball team. She was 17 years old and 9 inches shorter than me and she shot over me like I wasn't even there. Basketball players are really, really good at basketball.

The right response to this is not to get mad but to ask "wait can you show me what you're doing that enables you to dribble around me so very easily" so you can continue to dominate your kid in the driveway with this secret knowledge. She bought me another six months at least.
posted by escabeche at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2018 [42 favorites]


This idea so many men have that women are worse at everything is so utterly bizarre. Have you ever... lived in the world? And noticed people have different abilities?

Once my female friend and I were playing a card game where you recognize patterns (it's called Set). We like to play each other because we are a good match, although I should state for the record that she wins about twice as much as me. We are both really good at this game. Our male friend announced numerous times that he loves the game and is very good at it, but chose not to play because it wouldn't be fun for us as he would just win constantly. No amount of saying "you can play if you want, we are not afraid of this outcome" convinced him, nor did pointing out how insulting his comments were.

Anyway, men in general have no idea how much time we waste listening to them blather on about things they know nearly nothing about so that when they are done we can go back to doing stuff we already know how to do without their input.

I <3 this piece.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:29 AM on August 3, 2018 [56 favorites]


You can only be one or the other. If you consider yourself a fucker, you constantly have to prove it; you can be changed into a fuckee at any time, which means that you can be abused with impunity.

see also the recent rise of "cuck" as a term of abuse.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:29 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'll never ever forget just how much my personal worldview was utterly shattered that sunny day in Menominee.

I don't know who said it first, but somebody proposed that before every Olympic event, before every major sporting league's finals, we should televise one race or game or round or whatever as played by some slightly above-average local hobbyists. The hundred-yard dash, as run by the fastest kid at the local high school. The two best basketball teams in the local rec league warm up the courts before the NBA finals, that sort of thing.

It's difficult for casuals to appreciate how good you have to be to play any sport professionally, mens' or womens'. Like, odds are pretty good that the worst player in the WNBA is better than you and anyone you've ever met.
posted by mhoye at 8:32 AM on August 3, 2018 [31 favorites]


"This idea so many men have that women are worse at everything is so utterly bizarre. Have you ever... lived in the world? And noticed people have different abilities? "

I think they look around and see men in positions of power and assume that it's earned. They have few enough interactions with women on a level playing field that, even when they have been outperformed by women, they don't recognize that that's what's happened.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:32 AM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


Based on my own experience in my own sport, one part of the problem is that guys can't perceive what the women are doing as hard. It doesn't look hard enough to them. The women's game is precise, deliberate, and smooth. The boys buy into being extra physical even when it's not necessary, so that they can look flashy. In my sport, the boys copy the flashiest actions of the top male open athlete, without wondering why it is those athletes rarely bring out those actions 99% of the time.

I coached boys, and one of my hardest tasks was teaching them not to bring out the "cool" actions all the time.

But it's only part of the problem. As I've said elsewhere, I often compete against guys. Though the good ones figure out fast that when I beat them at something, it's on purpose (and they adjust appropriately), the inexperienced know-it-alls try to go harder and faster and often end up hurting me.
posted by Peach at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


In college, I worked with a young woman who was an alternate for the US Olympic Women's Softball Team, a pitcher. She and her boyfriend would hang out at the batting cages and taunt particularly puffed-up and insecure males about how bad they were at hitting. The con was that eventually, her boyfriend would goad the guy into a bet that "Even my girlfriend could strike you out, bro." Exactly what you would think happened, then happened.

The funny thing was, they eventually found out they didn't even need to make it a con. They could just tell the mooks, "This woman is a world class athlete and you are not. She will beat you." And they'd still bet their cash they were better than her. And then lose. And then my friend and her boyfriend would go out for dinner on some insecure idiot's money.

Eventually they were banned from most batting cages in the area, but it was good while it lasted.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2018 [135 favorites]


My wife was slightly better than me at tennis the entire time we were married, we played nearly every day, it never bothered me, it was a challenge, however the number of people who said things to me about how hard/weird/embarrassing/etc this must be for me was really grating.
posted by Cosine at 8:40 AM on August 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


There is definitely misogyny to it, but I swear 50% of it is that the average person doesn't realize how much faster/stronger - more athletically gifted - pros are than dabblers.

I once saw an article discussing athletic prowess in terms of battleship curves. And the top end of the curve is extremely pointy and extended, for both men and women. So I think some guys look at the very top points of both, and see the major difference there -- not very strange since nearly everything about athletics, even hand-eye coordination, is affected by muscle power -- but don't grasp that the top point of the women's range exceeds 99 percent or more of all men.

So a typical female professional athlete would not do well on a men's professional team, but will still kick the asses of any civilian who played them, same as the men will.
posted by tavella at 8:42 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


I see Stephen Miller has branched out from track races.
posted by delfin at 8:43 AM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Definitely not exclusive to pro sports, if the 90% of dudes at every rock show discoursing on how much better they are at [instrument] than the person actually being paid to play it are any indication. Bump that figure up to somehow 150% if the person playing the instrument is a woman.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:59 AM on August 3, 2018 [13 favorites]


So a typical female professional athlete would not do well on a men's professional team, but will still kick the asses of any civilian who played them, same as the men will.


Seems that way to me, I remember when the WIlliams sisters were shooting their mouths of about being able to beat lots of the men on tour, the 200th ranked man offered them a match and utterly destroyed both of them. The gaps are huge.
posted by Cosine at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nthing that people who do this clearly don't understand the difference in skill (or physiology either). People who play at the NCAA/pro level are just unbelievable. Long story short, many years ago my friends and I would end up playing pick up games that occasionally had NCAA/Pro players in them. I'm a seriously horrible basketball player and not a person who follows sports but my friends didn't care. What they DID enjoy was setting me to cover said athletes in games just for giggles.

Having played basketball against people at that level really got across the fact that I could train all day, every day from now until forever and never have a chance against someone like that. Gender wouldn't even matter. Since then it would never even occur to me to attempt to talk smack to a player of any gender at that level.
posted by Defective_Monk at 9:01 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Even in strength sports, I see people talking crap all the time. Now bear in mind this is a sport where thanks to biology men have a solid advantage. But I'll see dudes going on about how they could be better than someone like Jennifer Thompson and it's that's same thing that tavella just mentioned. In terms of raw power, maybe, but in terms of power/weight ratios, not even. She's cranking out insane power. I'd have to squat over 500 lbs in order to match her output and it would have to be worse because I'd get heavier with the required muscle. I sincerely doubt it.

The telling thing - and one of the things I like about lifting when I can get off my butt to do it - the serious lifters, the ones who understand that it's not the total plates, all give women like her the head nod of respect.

(Also seriously, that's some damn dedication and good genetics to get where she's at.)
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:04 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


mhoye: I don't know who said it first, but somebody proposed that before every Olympic event, before every major sporting league's finals, we should televise one race or game or round or whatever as played by some slightly above-average local hobbyists. The hundred-yard dash, as run by the fastest kid at the local high school. The two best basketball teams in the local rec league warm up the courts before the NBA finals, that sort of thing.

I think that in order to drive home the point, you'd have to have the fastest kid race the Olympic racer, and the local rec team play against the (W)NBA team.

One thing that I've noticed about myself - though it has taken four decades - is that I can't think or see as fast as even the good local rec league players. When a good local player pulls off a good play against a local defense, it looks to me a lot like a great professional player pulling off a great play against a great professional defense. My brain isn't fast enough to register the difference.
posted by clawsoon at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


The men who assert ahead of time that they will beat her or even ask her believing in their heart of hearts that they will win are plain and simple male supremacists. Without direct, red-bottomed-spanking level evidence, they believe no woman can be superior to them.

I wish she had time and inclination to go around a whip every male supremacist's ass. Not that it would change their minds, but I would just love to see the look on each face as he realizes what a dickhead he is.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2018 [14 favorites]


A friend of mine was one of the top 50 female chess players in the US - you don't have to be very high rated for that, since there aren't that many women tournament players -- and that was like about how you'd imagine.
posted by thelonius at 9:17 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


If Bobby can't lose to women gracefully, I wonder whether schools could help a bit. Make a point of hiring women to teach and coach boys in sports, so the best athlete in the gym and on the field with Bobby often is a woman.
posted by pracowity at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've never had the slightest flicker of an interest in any sport, but now I want to see this lady play.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:23 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Male Fragility + Dunning-Kruger

It might be * instead of +. Maybe even ^ for the tremendously obvious things like physical sports.
posted by Revvy at 9:34 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


At the jiu-jitsu school where I train, there is pro-level MMA fighter who comes by every once in a while. Last time he came by, he absolutely crushed everybody in the gym that day. He's not a big guy, fights at 145 or 155 I think. But he tuned up everyone he sparred with, no sweat, no matter what size or how much they outweighed him. He fights in mid-level promotions and hasn't yet made the step up to the big promotions. His last fight, he matched with another fighter who had just been released from the UFC. The UFC fighter dominated him for three rounds, just as much as he had dominated us at the gym.

At the same gym, I have seen new male students come and think they can push the more experienced female students and fighters around, just because they're men or they think they're bigger/stronger/faster. It does not go well for them.

Between gender, and people's general overestimation of their own skills and underestimation of the huge jump up in ability once you're competing with somebody who does this all day, every day, professionally, I can imagine there is a very long line of fools looking to step up and get schooled.
posted by ga$money at 9:36 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


This was always the big draw of traveling sideshows. Put the rubes in their place. And the danger for the travelers, too - the after show paybacks of the butthurt chumps. Men are stupid.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:48 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm friends with a group of people who are really into rock climbing, and went with them a couple of times. One of them, Jack (*), doesn't do as much climbing but is into lifting, so he's pretty built-up, especially in the upper body.

One day we were discussing who the best climbers in the group are, and the majority consensus was Serena (*), who works at the climbing gym. She's a marvel to watch scampering up the top of those really hard walls. (Like ski slopes, climbing walls have difficulty ratings.)

Someone said, "Jack's pretty good," because he does climb walls with as high a rating as Serena does sometimes. And Jack responded "No. I'm not as good as her. I just power my way up."

That's correct; as I understand it rock climbing at the higher levels involves finesse and using your lower body more than anything else; watching Jack, I had noticed that he was resorting to relying on his upper body muscles solely at points.

But oh, for more men to have as much self-awareness as Jack.

(*) Not the real name.
posted by seyirci at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2018 [27 favorites]


> But I'll see dudes going on about how they could be better than someone like Jennifer Thompson and it's that's same thing that tavella just mentioned. In terms of raw power, maybe...

"Could be?" How much do you bet the answer for most of them is "not without 'roids?"
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:01 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


I love this article and it reminded me of nothing so much as the SAT-score-swapping that happens among college friends, the disgruntledness of many dudes finding out their female friends, maybe even their girlfriends, did better than them, and then the doubling down on the math score though because words are "soft skills" right.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:05 AM on August 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


That's correct; as I understand it rock climbing at the higher levels involves finesse and using your lower body more than anything else; watching Jack, I had noticed that he was resorting to relying on his upper body muscles solely at points.

The top-point difference definitely gets closer on sports where light weight and endurance are major factors over pure muscle, but it never quite closes entirely. Like... consider professional cycling. As the last couple decades have proved, it's essentially impossible at the highest levels for cyclists with just training and determination and natural ability to win out over cyclists with that plus PEDs. With women and men, you can have two people who have the same genetic inheritance, the same one in a thousand coordination and processing power and the right kind of twitch muscles and so on... but one has been on a steady diet of PEDs since puberty.

Of course, there are non-biological factors too; pretty much any male in the US with exceptional athletic skill will have the option to take a royal road from practically toddlerhood to the highest levels of professional competition. Women tend to have less opportunity and active discouragement, so the top ranks are pulling from a more restricted pool, and the best of them don't have the same quality of competition to develop their skills.
posted by tavella at 10:18 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


as I understand it rock climbing at the higher levels involves finesse and using your lower body more than anything else
One of the best climbers I’ve met only had a couple years experience with the sport and wasn’t unusually muscular but had done a ton of classic dance training and her balance and control were just as good as you’d expect. Most of the harder courses deliberately encouraged that and she breezed up a lot faster than the one-arm pull-up guys who were doing it the hard way, dripping sweat and ready for a break after a few climbs.
posted by adamsc at 10:20 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


Men in general around basketball overrate their own abilities so much that they constantly have to be put in their place.

When I was in my mid-thirties I played in a pickup game of street basketball (I have maybe played basketball 10 times in my entire life) with a bunch of other 30ish men. A young girl maybe 11 years old or so walked over asked if she could play.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

The very next play she juked me so bad I almost broke both my ankles and ended up stumble/falling face first right into the bumper of a car parked nearby. I laughed so hard at being completely destroyed by this little girl that I didn't notice until that night that I had massive bruising all up one side of my body from where I hit the pavement.

She was very kind and solicitous of my well-being and said "Are YOU sure YOU want to keep playing?"

I'm just very glad current tech like cellphones cameras and digital video didn't really exist back then.
posted by srboisvert at 10:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [26 favorites]


The guys who move to hacking and shoving as they realize they're losing--this can come out of thoughtless anger, channeled through misogyny, and it can also be them clinging to their initial, unstated belief: that they can show their superiority somehow via their masculinity.

This explains everything about our current political environment very, very well.
posted by hessie at 10:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


So, let's set aside the social relationship aspects and talk about sports for a second...

When she coached the Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball team, Pat Summit used teams of male players drawn from the school, in order to give her women's teams tougher practice opponents. These were playground players, generally pretty good at the high school level, but certainly not good enough to play men's college basketball at even the lowest tiers.

What Summitt feels she gains by having her team practice against
males is obvious: athleticism. "It's a simple fact that guys, on
the whole, are quicker, faster and stronger," says Summitt.
"What guys do is cover space, make the court seem a lot
smaller." If the court looks small in practice, it follows that
it looks bigger, more inviting, during games.


So, how do these players do against some of the best women's college basketball players in the country?

It's complicated. The men's practice squad was forced to hold back their games to make the practice appropriate and to avoid injury to the women's team players. They deliberately limited themselves on allowable moves and tactics. This wasn't "go easy on them," but rather, "play this way so we can have the right kind of practice."

But naturally, the topic came up.

On the rare occasions when practice players are asked about
their duties, one question dominates: Is an average male player
better than a terrific female player? (That's what you, too,
want to know, right?) The players aren't sure how to answer the
question. Each gender damns the other with faint praise.
Arbogast says the Lady Vols "are better than a lot of teams I
played against in high school," while Holdsclaw figures that
with a little work, the practice players would be "one of the
top three women's teams in the SEC." The practice players who
were decent high school players--Arbogast, Gibbs, Josh Liner and
6'3" Dave Hedge, who dominates the boards against even the
taller women--feel they could hold their own in one-on-one games
against most of the Lady Vols. They're probably right. Most
practice players also feel that the 6'2" Holdsclaw would school
them. They're right about that, too. "I think of it like a game
of checkers, and Chamique's playing with all kings," says Liner.
"She can do too many things we can't." Shyly but emphatically,
Holdsclaw agrees.

A team composed of the best male athletes on campus would, on
quickness and jumping ability alone, destroy the Lady Vols. But
that wouldn't mean they're technically superior basketball
players. None of the current practice players has the skills and
court savvy of, say, Jolly (who's listed generously as 5'10"),
but she would probably lose to most of them in a one-on-one game
because she's too slender to compete with them on the boards.


There's a silver lining...

"We're better prepared because of these guys, and I hope they
know I appreciate that," says Summitt. "But they get a lot out
of this, too. They get to play basketball in one of the finest
facilities in the country, work out with some of the best
players. Most of them would be playing pickup ball anyway."

At the very least the practice players have had their
consciousnesses raised more than most college-age males. When
Perotti tells his roommates about a moment from practice, maybe
an outstanding move by Holdsclaw or a terrific pass by Jolly, he
realizes how unusual his experience has been. "They just look at
me and say, 'Hey, Tony, they're girls,'" Perotti says, and he
shakes his head. "They have no idea how good these women are and
what it's like to be a part, even a small part, of this program.
No idea at all."

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


That's a terrific article, but also from 1999. I'd bet the women's game, and its players, has progressed since then.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:36 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Takes me back to junior high memories of trip to the ice skating rink.

A couple of the hockey guys were making this sort of mocking commentary about how well girls could skate to a girl who was a figure skater... until she raced them around the rink and lapped them twice with effortless grace while they huffed and chuffed and appeared to be barely moving compared to her.

She just smiled and with great poise went on to dominate the centre of the rink with her perfect spins and jumps. There was no need to say more.

I just love that memory.
posted by chapps at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'd bet the women's game, and its players, has progressed since then.

Well...

The WNBA started life 22 years ago. Only six women have ever dunked in a game. Has the game progressed? Sure. Has there been step-function in women's height and musculature? Not really.

But I'm not dismissive. Best live game I ever saw was Teresa Edwards setting the single-game scoring record in the ABL, but they lost that game, despite Edwards taking the lost shot after the best damn crosscourt pass I've ever seen. And the greatest basketball coach of all time loved women's basketball. He saw it as the pure form of the sport.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:45 AM on August 3, 2018


My comment was a bit vague. What i meant to say was that strength and conditioning and other types of off-season preparation have probably pushed those female athletes into a realm that male players of the type described, who probably don't have the benefit of that extra training, would have a more difficult time matching.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:54 AM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


"At the same gym, I have seen new male students come and think they can push the more experienced female students and fighters around, just because they're men or they think they're bigger/stronger/faster. It does not go well for them.
"

This occurs even at the most casual of athletic levels.

I take martial arts - I'm very casual about it, I've sat at my current belt level at my current dojo for six months while I rehab a shoulder injury, and since I started over when I moved coasts, I'm sitting a few belt levels below what my actual training at the previous dojo would suggest.

I am short, female, moderately feminine and visibly "of size", even in a loose gi. Maybe especially in one, because gi jackets are not designed for people who wear a DD sports bra. I am decent in the sparring ring for my age/size/training. Decent for my level means - well, it means I routinely get my butt handed to me in a polite and nicely gift-wrapped package when sparring anyone above my belt level.

And yet - once every few months, one of our newer male students will end up partnered with me for sparring, and either try to talk our instructors into letting him swap because "I don't want to hurt anyone" or will get cocky. This never ends well for their ego. It always does great things for mine*.

Those kinds of men assume a lot. They assume maleness will overcome any level of training, they assume that any average athletic guy can out-athlete any level of athletic woman, and they assume that visibly feminine people cannot also be athletic at any skill level, because athleticism is clearly coded male.

* I'm a DV survivor. Knowing I can hold my own against an aggressive cocky dude is my safe space.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:56 AM on August 3, 2018 [45 favorites]


I'm discussing this elsewhere with a man who tells me that women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's right.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 10:57 AM on August 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


I used to train in the Fredericton boxing club. It was a co-ed gym. Fortunately when this dynamic came up, it was squashed very quickly by either a) the fact that a serious percentage of the attendants had served with women in Afghanistan and b) a woman with the nom de guerre "the butcher" who had a very "hands on" approach to teaching feminism in the ring. Shame how often that process will need to be repeated before we see much progress.
posted by LegallyBread at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


Marshawn Lynch's reply when asked whether he'd be willing to play tennis against a heavily pregnant Serena Williams showed a refreshingly realistic assessment of his chances, I thought.
posted by Lexica at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


Interesting reading comments on the co-ed nature of sports. Especially regarding the aggressiveness of a "casual" league. In particular the comment about Tennessee using a men's team to actually improve a women's team answered the fundamental and most basic question, that men and women should ponder more frequently....why are you here? Answer: to get better. In cross country our teams practiced with the varsity women and the results were multiple state championships. It does not work as well in other sports, where the teams would be at a disadvantage, but certainly any good coach should look to incorporate racing tactics to improve.

Years later, when times are much slower, in a Hot Chocolate road race a women commented during the race, I was trying too hard, like what am I supposed to slow down and walk?
posted by brent at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2018


A friend of mine was one of the top 50 female chess players in the US - you don't have to be very high rated for that, since there aren't that many women tournament players -- and that was like about how you'd imagine.

It's even more absurd in chess because you have numerical ratings which do a reasonably good job of quantifying how much better one player is than another. The 1600 player should know he has about a 1-in-30 chance of beating the 2200 player (oversimplifying a bit by not considering draws). And yet the attitude still exists even there.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:24 AM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm discussing this elsewhere with a man who tells me that women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's right.

He's absolutely right. Everything in the OP about men fouling harder and harder once they start losing, I recognize from playing sports myself. (I'm a dude.) I have no doubt that there's a gendered component to it (since for a lot of guys it's more humiliating to lose to a woman), but the basic shape of it is everywhere.

You even see it in professional sports. E.g.
posted by asterix at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


One of the disadvantages I see when women train with men is that they tend to over emphasize athleticism instead of finesse. They go too big. In my sport (fencing) I welcome fencing against women who do that because they over-commit to actions and are very vulnerable to a second-intention game (that is, showing one thing and doing another).

And actually my reaction to the question of whether female athletes can hold their own on a men’s game is that it doesn’t matter. Women’s basketball, women’s fencing, is a different game with different subleties. They’ve brought a women’s softball pitcher in against male baseball players and they didn’t know what to do with her.

But then my personal focus is on winning my actual events, the ones that can earn me national and international age group medals, and part of my success is based on the fact that that’s where I focus my efforts.
posted by Peach at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


In the same way you've got clueless dudes having no earthly idea how good pro athletes are, most people have no real idea how levels compare cross gender in most sports. In general, pro women are at about the level of mid- to lower-level male college players, modulo the specific sport. Among amateur tennis players, you're looking at a half level to a full level delta. Among pro players, pro women are generally competitive with male college players, though boys competing for Div I NCAA titles would hardly give up points or games to pro women.

I'm glad cashman brought up Scalabrine. The videos he did where he schools decent amateurs are a huge service to those who need to know better. I'm personally fond of footage of NBA players at summer camps swatting little kid shot attempts into the stands - cause nobody needs to know better than pre-teens who might eventually make their high school varsity teams. No, you're not getting a shot off against KD, sorry.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Marshawn Lynch's reply when asked whether he'd be willing to play tennis against a heavily pregnant Serena Williams showed a refreshingly realistic assessment of his chances, I thought.
posted by Lexica Almost an hour ago [4 favorites +] [!]


Always admired his football prowess, but the more I see of his non-football life, the more I like this guy.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:14 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Years ago I listened to a family behind me talk to their middle-school son and daughter about school competitions and grades. They encouraged the daughter to keep trying, be the best in her class, no reason she can't win! Don't let the boys keep you down! And then without pause, with both children still present, told the son to keep trying, be the best, you wouldn't want to let a girl beat you.

Almost guaranteed to make the son bitter. If he does beat the girls, no big, can't be really proud of that, it was expected. And if he doesn't, well, his parents told him already they can't respect him.

I have been wondering for years if there was anything I could have said to help, and who I should have said it to.
posted by clew at 12:22 PM on August 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


It's difficult for casuals to appreciate how good you have to be to play any sport professionally
A similar thing comes up in two contexts in my life.

Football

Every year, as Alabama makes a run for the national title, some doofus will say "this Alabama team could beat the Bengals" or whatever. (Sub in whoever sucks the most in the NFL.)

No, they absolutely could not.

Even on the very best college team, only a handful are good enough to go pro. The rest are not good enough for even NFL practice squads. You see this when players who dominated in college have trouble transitioning, because suddenly EVERYONE is on their level, and some of them are better.

The Bengals would *destroy* Alabama. It wouldn't be close.

Cycling

The other one is in cycling. Most of my close cycling buddies understand what the gap is between their abilities and accomplished amateur racers, and what the gap is between a Cat3 and a pro, and what gap exists between a domestic pro and the guys who rode into Paris on Sunday. All those gaps are unimaginably huge. And in cycling, it's quantifiable, because power numbers are knowable. I know where I stand vs my pal D, a cat5, and I know where D and I are vs. M, who's a female Cat3. She can easily leave us on the road if she wants. It's not close.

I'm not a racer, but people race (at a participatory level in the lowest division, to be clear) with my level of power. I can maintain, if I'm lucky, strong, and rested, about 3.3 watts per kilogram for about 5 minutes.

At a recent race before the Tour de France, Lawson Craddock -- who came in *last* in the TdF -- maintained 4.6 w/kg for 6 hours.

Soccer

The more on-topic anecdote is actually funny, though. Years ago -- late 20s -- I dated a girl who'd played varsity soccer in college (at a small school, not D1). Her skills were pretty impressive, and she kept them up. At the time, she was playing on 3 teams in rec leagues here: an outdoor women's team; an outdoor co-ed team; and (my favorite) one in a coed indoor league.

Two things about the indoor soccer league worth knowing:

First, it wasn't tiered like the outdoor ones were, which meant very skilled players competed against scrubs.

Second, in a bid to keep macho dudes from monopolizing the ball, women's goals were worth 2.

I absolutely never tired of seeing her zoom in on some dude who was probably hot shit at 17 who thought he could slip by her, and having her steal the ball so smoothly they were usually a meter or two apart before he even realized it.

I also really enjoyed that her team was SUPER evil about exploiting the combination of her ball skill (much more than most players in the league) and the lady-goals-are-2 rule. They'd set up moves to get her the ball close to the goal, and even if they were smart enough to realize her skill level they generally couldn't do anything about it.

She wasn't the only higher-level player on the team, so more than half of her team's games ended early due to a league mercy rule.
posted by uberchet at 12:28 PM on August 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


You forgot motor sports.

The ability to suppress one's survival instinct and maintain fine motor (pardon the pun) control while being shaken like a paint can is often overlooked by any average person who's driven on a highway at some point, watched a race and thought "I could do that".
posted by dazed_one at 12:58 PM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


And then without pause, with both children still present, told the son to keep trying, be the best, you wouldn't want to let a girl beat you.

Almost guaranteed to make the son bitter.


the...son.

yes, him too, to some degree, I suppose.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:04 PM on August 3, 2018 [64 favorites]


I'm discussing this elsewhere with a man who tells me that women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's right.

Male on male violence more often than not manifests and embodies misogyny, though, because what do they call the male objects of their aggression?

Bitch. Pussy.
posted by jamjam at 1:10 PM on August 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


The Bengals would *destroy* Alabama. It wouldn't be close.

Yes, and I have a funny anecdote about that.

"Alabama could beat the Bengals."
"Bullshit," I said. "The difference in quality of the offensive line alone would ensure a beatdown, regardless of who else was on the field for the Bengals."

So I went and researched the height/weight of the Bengals offensive line vs. the height/weight of Alabama's line to prove my point. I surprisingly discovered that, just on those metrics and those metrics alone, Alabama was competitive. Their guys were as tall and as heavy as the Bengals guys.

However, that year, none of the Alabama OL guys were drafted. But every single one of the Bengals O-lineman had been drafted, of course, in their careers. Height/weight is not strength/speed is not quality of play. This is what people miss.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


However, that year, none of the Alabama OL guys were drafted. But every single one of the Bengals O-lineman had been drafted, of course, in their careers. Height/weight is not strength/speed is not quality of play. This is what people miss.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:26 PM on August 3 [+] [!]


A lot of people don't realize that intelligence is, itself, an important factor. Making quick, logical decisions to employ what well developed physical gifts the player has makes a huge difference.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:34 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Almost guaranteed to make the son bitter.

the...son.

yes, him too, to some degree, I suppose.


Well, almost guaranteed to make the son bitter. 100% beyond guaranteed to make their daughter bitter.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's difficult for casuals to appreciate how good you have to be to play any sport professionally, mens' or womens'. Like, odds are pretty good that the worst player in the WNBA is better than you and anyone you've ever met.

One of the awesome things about being a local sports reporter was getting really comfortable with the differences in skill at different levels of play. They are extremely, extremely obvious if you watch different levels even for a couple seasons. Like, I'm pretty sure I could draw a bull's-eye around a basketball hoop and assign each ring to a level: high school makes this shot most of the time, college this shot, pros out here. It's very cool to have an appreciation of the skill and dedication you see at the different levels.

Watching my first couple of pro games after a season of scrub high school basketball was always hilarious. My expectations were inappropriately low.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:37 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


In that particular conversation, the daughter doesn't need to be bitter, ime. She has a strategy: she can win the official game, and then her parents approve of her. (They probably get weird about it in practice, later. For instance, it's somehow not ok for her to be more successful than her brother, father, or husband, or to not have a husband.)

The son has been put in a meta-game with no winning strategy, unless he finds a limited world in which all his competition is male and then successfully pretends this is natural. This is hardly ever possible, hence the massive structures of patriarchy reinforcing it.
posted by clew at 1:54 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like, odds are pretty good that the worst player in the WNBA is better than you and anyone you've ever met.

It boggles me that people don't get this. It's just numbers.

I think in baseball terms, but it applies to all pro sports: that player you're yelling at from the stands because he's playing badly today? He was the best player in his neighborhood, the best player in his grade school, the best player in his high school, one of the two or three best players in his entire state (or, often, country). He was drafted and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars just because he had the potential to compete at this level. The worst player in the minor leagues, the guy with almost no chance of ever reaching MLB, is still in the 0.1% of top baseball players.

So he looks overmatched today? Fine. He's still nine levels of elite past anything you have ever sniffed, sandlot beer-league guy!
posted by rokusan at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


It boggles me that people don't get this. It's just numbers.

A lot of people are invested in the idea that there is no such thing as talent, and that the only thing that goes into success is attitude and hard work. So they didn't turn out to have been great, but they could have been. Sports puts the falsity of this premise in our faces in an uncomfortable way. If you don't have what it takes, in sheer nervous system and physiology, to hit a major league baseball pitcher, it doesn't much matter how much you practice. You think the guys that couldn't get out of the minor leagues didn't work hard? And as you say, they were extremely good. Just not quite as good as the very top players.
posted by thelonius at 2:06 PM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


That's a quality observation, thelonius. I wonder how much of that belief is a sort of extension of the American Dream-slash-Fraud?

It sounds so much like a bootstraps argument, ignoring the sheer luck of your birth circumstances.
posted by rokusan at 2:56 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's also the narrative that fits into a short simple movie. Ditto the common belief that scientific advances are always made by a lone outsider.
posted by clew at 3:16 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


It boggles me that people don't get this. It's just numbers.
That's the thing that keeps at least advanced "rec league" level cyclists from having these "I'm close to pro level" delusions, because in this sport it's literally true. We have power meters and know what we're capable of -- and nowadays low level pros actually DO publish their workouts. You can see the difference between them and you in black and white.

But it doesn't keep the lower-level folks who have no idea of their own power output from making the assumption, of course.

As for gender, I haven't seen a LOT of that in the groups I ride in, but I know it exists because I hear about it from female riders. There certainly ARE shitty dudes who get aggro when they can't dominate on power alone, just like in the article. I've seen a few hounded off regular group rides or out of clubs. I have the vague sense it's worse in mountain biking, though.
posted by uberchet at 3:23 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sports puts the falsity of this premise in our faces in an uncomfortable way. If you don't have what it takes, in sheer nervous system and physiology, to hit a major league baseball pitcher, it doesn't much matter how much you practice.
Yeah, add me to the chorus noting how true this is. Maybe in the 60s it would've been possible for a motivated player of modest gifts to work his way into an MLB spot, but today every pro sport is operating at a level of absurd development. They're all exquisitely rare specimens.

I mean, I'm 48, so it's moot, but even if I had been coached early and ridden in junior races and the U23 field and whatnot, and did literally nothing not focussed on training for cycling races for my entire youth, there's STILL no way I'd have been a TdF pro. I'm too big, and I'm shaped wrong. It was never an option.

Being near current MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL players will drive this home, too. It's like they're a different species.
posted by uberchet at 3:55 PM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Everything people are saying about the gulf between college football and the pros is true, but as an old, old person, I feel bound to point out that there used to be an annual game between the College All-stars and the NFL champions which I have very dim childhood memories of seeing on TV once or twice.

It was an exhibition rather than a real game, of course, but the college kids didn't look completely as if they shouldn't even be on the field, as I recall.

I'd guess that scientific training and nutrition, as well as vastly increased professionalism in the NFL, widened the gap to what we see today.

But in the spirit of honoring amateur achievement, I watch a lot of YouTube clips, and one of the most amazingly athletic catches I have seen yet was accomplished by a ball girl during an MLB farm league game.
posted by jamjam at 4:00 PM on August 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


I mean, the top college football players go directly to the NFL if they are drafted, so it's not that big a leap to imagine.

It's not like baseball where there's a few years of minor league work still waiting for most, and it's almost vanishingly rare for a drafted player to join the majors immediately.
posted by rokusan at 5:08 PM on August 3, 2018


Being near current MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL players will drive this home, too. It's like they're a different species.

This is a pretty amusing thread of beer league encounters with NHLers and other elite level hockey players.
posted by emeiji at 6:38 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


.In that particular conversation, the daughter doesn't need to be bitter, ime.

I'm honestly trying to find a unsarstic way to say: no, that is not the case.

Having her parents reinforce society's deep and everlasting misogyny and sexism within the family unit and to her, specifically, is indeed reason to be bitter.
posted by Dashy at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


Nancy Lebovitz: Men who are practice partners for women's basketball teams. They are a useful challenge but not as good at playing.

Not paid eh? So they are like cheerleaders in American Football??! O_o

FritoKAL: * I'm a DV survivor. Knowing I can hold my own against an aggressive cocky dude is my safe space.

:D

Nancy Lebovitz: I'm discussing this elsewhere with a man who tells me that women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's right.

This is so completely underappreciated. Just walking down a crowded street, as a big male, there is a constant tension--who's going to respect your space, who's going to challenge it..

jamjam: the most amazingly athletic catches

Sorry jamjam, but that was for a TV commercial :/ I was watching some ballgirl videos the other day--what a strange strange American thing. Some parks they are ball attendants. They have cheerleader type tryouts and media training, but they are super skilled. They always sit with a security guard(?) dressed like a coach. And I spent a couple of hours watching them, why? Damned strange business..
posted by Chuckles at 7:41 PM on August 3, 2018


Ok how fucked up is it that misogynist assholes assault her because they can't beat her? Argh I hate everything.

A version of this happens to me all the time. I rock climb, and I'm pretty good. Not pro-level at all (no delusions here), but better than most climbers who might be out at a crag on a given day. I'm a small woman, and don't look particularly ripped, and I'm told that when I climb I make it look easy. So after I do a challenging climb, whatever overconfident dude who is around has to try it as well. Most of the time overconfident dude gets shut down hard. My husband first pointed out this pattern years ago. He thinks it's hilarious and calls me an unintentional sandbagger. (In climbing jargon a sandbagged climb is one that is much harder than its rating, and you can sandbag someone by telling them a climb is easy when it's not.)

Now I'm glad climbing isn't a contact sport so overconfident dude doesn't assault me. But it does give more insight into why I hate it when people watch me climb.

Sometimes I'll get appreciative dude though, who says in a hushed tone something like, "It was amazing watching you do that climb." I enjoy appreciative dude.

I'm noticing that I'm hesitant to post this comment because I might get crap for bragging about my climbing ability. Thanks misogyny!
posted by medusa at 9:16 PM on August 3, 2018 [24 favorites]


Several forms of motor racing can show this up pretty well. The first is as you progress up the ranks the cars themselves, even in nominally the same sort of racing, get faster. To the point where lower tier drivers can't even drive the car let alone get a decent time. The car is set up for a very skilled driver and those with lesser skills can't think fast enough, aren't precise enough in their movements, don't have the endurance to put up with the punishment the car will deliver and end up stuffing it or worse.

Also it's pretty easy to get direct compares between different drivers in the same car in individual timed events (there is more going on when you are dealing with other drivers on the course at the same time). Nothing is quite so humbling as posting a lifetime best time at something like an autocross course and then handing your keys to a more accomplished buddy and having them shave 10% off your time.
posted by Mitheral at 9:28 PM on August 3, 2018


women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other

this is under appreciated


Ok, so...

What the hell is wrong with men, then?
posted by schadenfrau at 4:47 AM on August 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


This absolutely makes me think of the male glance.
posted by harriet vane at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Here’s a good 2015 article about male practice squads and WNBA players. Particularly the material about Elena Delle Donne and the guy who was assigned to her. (As a lifelong basketball fan, Delle Donne is on my short list of players who were the most fun to watch.)
posted by chimpsonfilm at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think a Venn Diagram of "unprofessional men who delusionally think they can out play WNBA players" and "Men who are OK with hitting women" would be very close to being one circle.
posted by Megafly at 12:30 PM on August 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Megafly: I think a Venn Diagram of "unprofessional men who delusionally think they can out play WNBA players" and "Men who are OK with hitting women" would be very close to being one circle.

Ya, I think that's a good way to put it. And it kind of puts pay to "what the hell is wrong with men, then?", in the same breath. While trying hard to resist saying "that's a stupid question", I googled up this nice piece from the New York Times: The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido. I didn't bother reading all of the linked Tucker Max article--honestly, who cares--but funnily enough, right near the top, Max is discussing the battleship curve of book sales.

Reminds me of an old As It Happens interview with some dude who castrated himself. Cured his hyper aggression, and etc., he said. I've searched for it many times without success.
posted by Chuckles at 3:16 PM on August 4, 2018


It's difficult for casuals to appreciate how good you have to be to play any sport professionally, mens' or womens'. Like, odds are pretty good that the worst player in the WNBA is better than you and anyone you've ever met.

Ah, here's the video I was hoping to find earlier: in 2015, Rich Eisen on the NFL's media staff shot some video comparing himself to that year's NFL prospects at the 40 yard dash.

The differences are... stark. It's good to be reminded periodically that there are guys out there who can run you down in the 40 yard dash after they've spotted you 25 yards
posted by mhoye at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


women wildly underestimate how violent men are with each other

I keep thinking about this. Men underestimate how violent and petulant men are with women. That's really what I like about this article and so much of the current conversation about men as a group. And I always get a bit chafed when we talk about this stuff and someone says something about what women know or don't know about men. I'm always like, "How many times do you go to bed with a man? How many closed doors have you been behind and intimate with a man?" Women know about men. It's a trick of evolution that we continue to cohabitate, fall in love with, support, nurture and champion men despite their rampant misogyny, violence and callousness.

The history of men is a history of violence, war and dominance. A lot of that is sold as romantic.
posted by amanda at 9:48 AM on August 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


The history of men is a history of violence, war and dominance. A lot of that is sold as romantic.

Freakin preach! I need that on tote bags, on bumper stickers, on shirts.
posted by cashman at 3:26 PM on August 7, 2018


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