The Olympians

Insofar as competition is the measure of oneself against another, it entails the view that the other is more important than oneself. Otherwise, it would be sufficient to measure oneself against oneself (a past self, a hoped-for future self) or against some absolute standard not necessarily related to any self. Such an other-regarding view usually indicates low self-esteem.

It does no good to claim that one competes, rather, to better one’s own best: it must be asked why one needs to perform alongside another in order to better oneself – a stopwatch or tape measure or videotape should suffice. That such competing against oneself is insufficient to bring out one’s best suggests, again, that what matters is what the other does, thinks, etc.

This seems odd, though: most world class athletes have such self-discipline and have achieved such a level of excellence that for their self-esteem to remain low, they’d have to be quite out of touch with reality. Bingo.

The hierarchal nature of competitive sport is such that Read the rest of this entry »

Figure Skating: A Very Gendered Thing

Many call figure skating a sissy sport, a feminine thing. To the contrary, and to my unrelenting irritation, it is a very gender-inclusive sport, a sport of both sexes, a sport where men must be men and women must be, well, girls.

Consider the costumes. The men usually wear ordinary long pants and a more or less ordinary shirt. The women, on the other hand, with such consistency I suspect an actual rule, show their legs–their whole legs–and almost as much of their upper body as they can get away with. And they always wear that cutesy short little girl skirt. What is it with that? Or they wear a negligée. (Ah. It’s the standard bipolar turn-on for sick men: sexy – child.) (Why is child sexy to men? Because child guarantees power over. And that’s what sex is to men–power, not pleasure. Or rather, the power is the pleasure. Probably because they don’t recognize the responsibility of power.) (So even in a sport without frequent legs-wide-apart positions, the woman’s costume would be questionable. But I believe it’s actually a rule–the female skaters must show leg. Like most rules women are expected to follow, this one surely was made by men, for men. As if women exist for men’s viewing pleasure.) Read the rest of this entry »

Men’s Precision Teams

Have you ever wondered why there are no men’s precision teams?

Sure, precision skating requires attention to detail and a highly developed spatial sense. But both are surely male capabilities; in fact, aren’t they male superiorities? Isn’t that why (so we’re told) men dominate science and engineering?

And of course, the sport requires skating skill. But countless men–Alexei Yagudin, Elvis Stojko, Kurt Browning, Brian Boitano, to name a few–have proven this to be Y-chromosome-compatible.

Perhaps it’s the degree of cooperation required that’s simply beyond men. Yes, men are capable of cooperation–that’s what team sports are all about. But in hockey, football, basketball, and the like, there’s always room to be a star; there’s always room for grandstanding, for upstaging. In a precision skating team, there’s no room for even the teeniest of egos. (Synchronized swimming–there’s another sport men simply couldn’t handle. There’d be way too many deaths by drowning.)

And yes, men are capable of the timing that cooperation entails. Read the rest of this entry »