Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inequality is complicated

 Because of legal decisions that have opened boys' sports to girls, boys in Massachusetts are now getting access to places on girls' swim teams. And—surprise—they're beating the girls at competitions.

So how does the New York Times headline the story?
 Boys Swimming on Girls Teams Find Success, Then Draw Jeers
Think so? Actually no—it's the girls that are suffering. Let's let Sarah Hooper, a senior at Needham High explain what the New York Times headline writer is too stupid to see:
"It's really frustrating to see how athletic directors and school administrators aren't doing anything," she said. "They aren't advocating for us. ... the boys are taking recognition away from girls who have worked hard and deserve it."
Yeah, but the headline says the boys are being jeered? Hey you guys in the media, you know why we hate you? Because you're a bunch of lying jerks.

Here is a paragraph to ponder:
Kim Goodwin, the Norwood Coach, said she was an opponent of boys competing with girls before she had boys on her team. Then her opinion changed. She saw the boys, who did not participate in other sports, develop self-confidence and mature.
Which is to say that these are not particularly athletic boys.

Dare I suggest that any boys who are really good at swimming would be more likely to find a non-school team to compete on. I know, how sexist of me but have a look at how well these non-athletic boys are doing at girls' swimming:
Higgins's winning time of 23:96 was a personal best by one second. He broke the girls' sectional record, set in 1985 by Cynthia Kangos of Wellesley, by 14 hundredths of a second.
 A boy who does not participate in other sports not only beat the girls, he broke a record that had stood for 26 years! And if that isn't bad enough, consider the sting in this parenthetical comment the NYT puts at the end of the paragraph:
(The boys' sectional record is 21:40.)
Over the same distance—and this is only a fifty yard race!—the boys' record is a full two and half seconds less. If he'd had to compete against boys, Higgins would have finished way at the back of the pack. That would have drawn jeers. Over only 50 yards swimming two and half seconds is a long, long time.

Cynthia Kangos can see the real point.
"There's a reason these records are girls' records. If there was no difference in boys' strength, then it would be a unisex record. It's really not fair. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn't believe it."
Why is not fair? Because boys are better at sports than girls are! They're not just a little better, they are a whole lot better. Even boys who don't do not participate in many sports tend to be better than girls who take sports very seriously.

Let's let a boy explain this. Here is Anthony Rodrigez, one of the boys on the girls' team,
"If people hear that you set a record, they're like, 'Oh my gosh, that's awesome,'" Rodriguez said. "But if they knew you were competing against girls, they wouldn't have as much respect for you."
 Well yeah.


Ann Althouse, commenting on a the story says "Equality is complicated". I assume she is being ironic here because the salient fact, the one Kangos and Rodriguez have no trouble seeing is that girls are not equal to boys when it comes to sports. There would be no problem if girls were as good as boys. It's inequality that is complicated.

PS: Let's make it really equal and have everyone use the same change room to suit up before the game, that would be really equal and really fair.

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