I used to live in a small rural conservative town. Against impossible odds a few dozen acres of prime real estate were somehow exempted from feverish development for a “sports park.” The community took understandable pride in what they had built: a crowning jewel featuring baseball diamonds, fishing ponds, soccer fields, tennis courts, volleyball and more.
Finally the local amateur sport leagues had a place where they could shine and participate in the time-honored activity of athletic competition. The facility was promptly used as a means of gender-based oppression by giving all the best time slots to the boy leagues. Girl leagues were relegated to sloppy seconds.
Thanks for playing.
It came to light that a business had taken a hardline position on a hot potato political issue. The story went viral in the social media. Soon, something that had been around for a while, perhaps even years, was on the top of Google News and the blogosphere leapt into the fray and whipped things up to a nice frothy frenzy.
The reaction was fierce but equally split. About fifty percent of the response from vocal net denizens was to grab pitchforks and torches and take up cries of, “Boycott! Boycott!” The remaining half, however, rallied round, filling caldrons with hot burning lead and chanting, “Defense! Defense!” and holding impromptu bake sales to support their newfound friends.
Alas, it wasn’t merely a rousing and violent game of football.
Meanwhile, a lone solitary figure stood far to the side waving a flag that read, “United We Stand.”
Methinks it must be our manifest destiny to be as divided as second generation stem cells in a petri dish. Disgusting.
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“No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
–Boy Scouts of America, excerpt of proposed resolution
Wow! That sounds pretty damn compelling, right? Finally! No more unfair and unfounded criticism for this piece of Americana organization which is a fine and upstanding part of our community and never does anything wrong. This will finally shut up those annoying critics.
Alas, as the rest of the internet has noticed, the proposal only applies to “youth.” Homosexuals are still prohibited from serving as scoutmasters and den mothers.
However, something else about the line of text caught my eye. Do you see it, too? I may very well be the only son of a bitch in the universe to have caught on. Aren’t you lucky to know me? Membership has its privileges.
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The news of Sally Ride passing was something that hit me harder than I expected and took me by surprise. It had been a while since I had heard about her.
As a NASA booster and a fan of the space shuttle program since it began, Ride was a hero of mine. (According to Ride’s sister she “hated” labels of every kind, including the word hero.)
Described as a “private” person, Ride kept details about her pancreatic cancer from the public eye. She also chose not to reveal that she was gay. She lived the last 27 years of her life in a same-sex relationship.
Ride is often described as “the first American woman in space.” (A Russian woman named Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space way back in June 1963.) Twenty years later Ride did it aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. (The same shuttle that claimed the lives of seven astronauts just three years later.)
Ride also had a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and took that brain into space, logging 14 days, 7 hours and 46 minutes of flight time away from the Earth.
Sadly, Sally Ride was prohibited in this country from marrying the person of her choice. And because she was in a same-sex relationship, Ride’s partner of 27 years is not entitled to death benefits or Social Security payments.
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Yesterday was a big day for women and sport. The World Cup Final is one of the few sporting events I actually watched. And I personally think the women on that team should be proud of themselves. They played awesome. Winning isn’t the only thing and the format dictates that someone has to win and someone has to lose.
Abby Wambach? OMG! I think I just fell in love. She’s so dreamy. Drenched in sweat, that short haircut, and scoring a go-ahead goal. All I can say is, “Wow.”
Is it wrong to be attracted to a sports star? If it is then I don’t wanna be right.
Speaking of FIFA, I don’t really know how the World Cup works. Do the athletes get paid or are they amateur status? Either way, how much do they make from endorsements and such? What would they have received if they had won? I couldn’t help but notice they were all covered in Nike logos.
In other news…
Inequity makes me angry. And the stories coming out of the upcoming Olympics are really starting to piss me off. Two in particular.
First there was the thing about “Nazi imagery” being used to promote the 2014 winter games in Russia. How in the name of hell is something like that allowed to happen? It guess it isn’t that surprising when they hire people who love and admire Hitler to handle marketing, eh? (Story.)
Then there was the bit about women’s badminton in the 2012 London Olympics. Those in charge wanted to create a more “attractive presentation.” That sounds more like Iron Chef than a frickin’ sporting event. So it was that a rule requiring women competing in badminton to wear uniforms consisting of “skirts or dresses.” Officials at the Badminton World Federation said the move would make the women appear more feminine and appealing to fans and corporate sponsors. Ah yes, the corporate sponsors. We can’t forget about them, can we?
Personally I think the time for half-assed measures has passed. Why not just make them play topless? I can pretty much guarantee that ratings and ticket sales will go through the roof. And it will be a modern-era gold rush for the corporate sponsors. Think of it? The ad space possibilities are intoxicating! You can have the Nike logo on one boob and still have one whole boob left over for something else.
I think the IOC (International Olympic Committee) should honestly go after what they want here. The IOC (which is a corporation, by the way) should send representatives to Olympic hopefuls by the time they are five-years-old to explain the facts of life. “We support your dreams. The Olympics would be nothing without people like you, the world class athletes that the world wants to see. We’ll use you like pieces on a chessboard to suit our needs. If you’re the best of the best and it meets our needs, we can make you a star. By the way, get used to being naked. God help you if you don’t meet our needs, though, even if you are the best in the world. We’ll crush you and your dreams like so much used meat.”
We find that it’s best to get those naive illusions out of the way at an early age.
And, last but not least…
My Netflix was out yesterday. So I ended up watching content on a different channel on my Roku device. We ended up on something called the SnagFilms channel, which is completely free. There were lots of interesting documentaries and such. By chance, the film we ended up watching was Training Rules.
Imagine that your had a lifetime dream that you had chased since the age of four. You become one of the best of the best, the top 20 in the nation, earn a scholarship and take your rightful place on the national stage. Then, it all suddenly ends when a person who is supposed to be looking out for you threatens to destroy everything you’ve ever dreamed about because of some arbitrary fact about yourself that she doesn’t like.
Welcome to the plot of the documentary Training Rules. The movie chronicles the effect that Penn State University women’s basketball coach Rene Portland had on the lives of women on her team.
A religious person, Portland was fiercely anti-lesbian. And if she thought you were gay, she wouldn’t just kick you off the team. She would use her awesome power and influence as the head coach of a successful program at PSU to keep you out of the sport forever. She’d make sure that your scholarship was cancelled. And she’d threaten to even prevent the transfer of credits.
Penn State, of course, did nothing about Portland even after adding homosexuality to the school’s non-discrimination policy. Which, in court, they argued, had no meaning since it wasn’t legally a contract. I love it when organizations take the high road.
I have little doubt that Portland viewed herself as a pious God warrior, but what she really did was destroy dreams and destroy lives. She was a destroyer of people.
The purpose of institutions like Penn State is to help people. To educate and support them. Not use them as disposable pawns in a high stakes game of money, glamor, prestige and corporate warfare.
Training Rules is the kind of movie that pisses you off. They say that all evil needs is for good men to do nothing. Penn State excelled at that. I highly recommend this one-hour documentary.
Maybe some day all people will have a fair shot at equity. But it sure isn’t now and it sure isn’t this planet.