If you don’t like women’s sports, you therefore also hate women.

At least that was the implication being made by Ashley Miller when she posted this article from The Onion:

SOCHI, RUSSIA—With a dominant 6-1 win over Sweden in Monday’s semifinal, Team USA advanced to the gold medal game of women’s ice—whoa, where the fuck do you think you’re going?

Hold on a minute, you sexist prick. Come back and read this.

After surging ahead thanks to first-period goals from Amanda Kessel, Kacey Bellamy, and—what, did seeing the names Amanda and Kacey already make you want to navigate away from this page? Because sources saw your dismissive, misogynistic bullshit coming a mile away before posting this report about a women’s sporting event, even though it involves a team representing the United States of America at the goddamn Olympics.

According to reports, the U.S. will be favorites against longtime rivals Canada in Thursday’s final, and why don’t you just park your ass right where it is for 10 more seconds, because reading 300 words about a talented team of female athletes on the verge of Olympic gold isn’t going to kill you.

C’mon, you honestly think sources can’t see right through you, you chauvinistic fuck?

Speaking to reporters following her impressive one-goal, two-assist performance against Sweden, U.S. forward Brianna Decker said—well, do you really want to know what she said? Or are you just going to ignore it like you do every story related to the LPGA, the WNBA, women’s tennis, and the U.S. women’s soccer team? Sources also apologize that this page doesn’t contain images of female hockey players wearing bikinis, because Lord knows that sort of crap would keep your attention.

Reports went on to confirm that this shit you’re pulling right here is exactly why women struggle to make a living as professional athletes.

At press time, you certainly didn’t make it this far into the story, so just forget it. You fucking pig.

Presumably, The Onion’s point here is to say that people who don’t like women’s sports are like that for misogynistic reasons, but I could see a few other interpretations, albeit less likely ones. In the case of Miller, though, when she posted this on her Facebook page last week, she was clearly cheering it on as not only a feminist, but as a fan of women’s (and men’s, for that matter) soccer.

Of course, the article is entirely incoherent and clearly not written by a sports fan that thinks much about sports in the first place. Here’s what I wrote about women and sports over 3 years ago:

I just wish we could all be a little honest. Men, on the whole, are better at sports than women, on the whole. We have these systems that rely on the ability to perform to a certain level – most runs, most points, most goals. And the best male athletes are going to be able to reach these levels better than the best female athletes. This is a big reason why women’s sports flounder. Is this so wrong? I really have no desire to watch a basketball league where it is big news that one of its players managed to actually dunk. (This really was big news for the WNBA a year or two ago.) So we can’t just give a blanket blame to society and culture and biases and discrimination, even if all those things might play a role. Sports are about top performance. If a woman can compete with the best men, great. But she’s the exception, not the rule.

As a sports fan, I almost always want to watch the best of the best. (My one exception is college hockey during the Frozen Four, provided Maine is one of those four, but even then I’ll choose to watch something else from time to time.) The fact is, women’s sports do not feature the best players out there. That’s why there is a separate league in the first place. Indeed, I think there’s a good chance any final 16 NCAA men’s basketball team could beat any WNBA team. Not that I’m a fan of NCAA basketball (nor even the NBA), but the point is a valid one: in general, men are better at sports than women. Even two of the top female tennis players – the Williams sisters – were only willing to claim they could beat any men outside the top 200 in world rankings. (They played a guy ranked around 203 or 204, each losing to him in an exhibition match when they were teenagers.) But perhaps my point would be better made with video. First up is a video of uncontested warm-up dunks prior to a WNBA All-Star game:

Notice that some of the women were barely able to reach the rim. Now here is LeBron James from last week’s All-Star game (which may as well be uncontested):

I don’t think it’s so crazy (or sexist) to say which one of those was far more exciting. And just imagine if we could extend these highlights to other sports. Who would you rather see hit a baseball, David Ortiz or a female player who would struggle to reach the Mendoza line in the MLB? The answer is clear to any rational sports fan, but Ashley Miller is not a rational sports fan. (It shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s on FreeThought Blogs.) As a result of me posting similar videos on her post praising The Onion’s article, she blocked me. This was probably in part cumulative since I had recently criticized her Internet investigating of Woody Allen where she effectively said guilty until proven innocent should be the default stance concerning anyone accused of any sort of sexual misconduct. (I wonder how many of Miller’s supporters would believe me if I said she had asked me for “coffee” in an elevator. Methinks ‘innocence until proven guilty’ would make a rapid comeback.) None-the-less, this sort of echo-chamber blocking is pretty characteristic of the people associated with FreeThought Blogs and atheism+. Quite the movement they have there.

(One last point on Miller: She quoted and blogged about a Facebook response of mine to something she posted. She did not message me or tag me in anything on Facebook. She didn’t even bother to link to my blog from her blog. I happened to see her post on my feed. Then on that post when someone responded to me in a way she liked, she made it a point to politely ask if she could quote that person in one place or another. Go ahead and quote me, fine, but have the decency to let me know. This is about par for FreeThought Blog ethics. We’ve seen a similar mindset with ringleader PZ Myers who refuses to help a person with whom he disagrees, even if the point of help matters to him. Nope, too bad, he disagrees with you on other things, so principles don’t matter. Yet when he makes third-party accusations about Michael Shermer and the great Ken White offers to help Myers find counsel, Myers has no problem accepting the assistance. Why, who cares that Ken White thinks I’m an attention whore who treats complex situations like they’re cartoons?! Principles! How convenient.)

But I digress. It’s utterly ridiculous to claim that the reason women’s sports do so poorly is because everyone just hates women. No. Professional female athletes just aren’t the best of the best. It’s entirely possible for a women’s hockey game to be entertaining, and I don’t fault anyone who happens to like watching that type of competitiveness, but that’s not what most sports fans want. What we want is a high class of athletics. If there comes a day that a female baseball player can hit .300 in the majors, then every baseball fan will love watching her hit. But until then, let me see Big Papi hit an opposite-field shot over the Green Monster.

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7 Responses

  1. At the risk of sounding like I’m talking down to you, the point of that comedic article is that women who support women’s sports often sound like that and it’s a bit ridiculous. As a women’s soccer supporter, I found it to be a funny caricature of women frustrated that their sports aren’t shared, not an actual argument or claim that men are sexist for not wanting to watch it. Remember, this is The Onion.

    You got blocked because your response was to post a bunch of things all in a row making fun of women’s sports and I was tired of your constant aggression and generally mean attitude in response to a large portion of things I posted. You and I don’t actually disagree as strongly or on as many points as your attitude would belie, but at some point it’s just too exhausting to deal with you being mean on my Facebook wall all the time.

  2. My response was to post two videos, similar to the ones I posted here. I then deleted one and found a better example for the WNBA. You can check. (I made the posts separate so the links would show thumbnails for each videos.)

    I didn’t post on a large portion of your posts. You post probably 25-40 things a week. I commented on three Woody Allen articles recently (one of which was based on what I had written in the first place) and then the Onion post.

  3. I don’t even think there should be segregation in sport. We’re supposed to have equality, aren’t we?

    Rather than policing gender, and making sport a creepy and humiliating thing for masculine women, and transgender people, we ought to toss that whole system out.

    Like we already do, we can divide leagues up by ability, and put a wider variety on TV. Men would dominate the top level, but it would be more diverse lower down.

    And we could devise sports where men’s physical advantages might not be as helpful, or where the sport is designed to counter those advantages in some way, by making it more advantageous to move just 5% slower, or whatever. As the Olympics have shown, pretty much anything can become a popular sport, so there’s not much excuse for not making a new one.

  4. I don’t watch any sports, so clearly I’m a sociopath.

  5. I was never really a fan of women’s hockey initially but seeing it showcased at the Olympics for a number of years I’ve noticed how much faster and exciting the game has gotten. Women have not be free to participate in sports the same way men have for a long time. Even now the level of support for women’s sports is small. Which means lower youth development and a lower level of competition. So part of the lower level of athleticism has a lot to do with the natural progression of the sport. It takes years to have a base large enough in which to select top athletes for a professional league. It’s not like men just started dunking the ball as soon as they started playing basketball. And the quality of those athletes a professional league has to choose from has a lot to do with how much money is sunk it to the development of those players when they are young. If that wasn’t true, everybody should win Olympic events in proportion to their population.

    But you are right, women are likely to ever hit as hard as men or run quite as fast. That being said there can still be a lot of beauty to the game when played well. When it comes tennis or volleyball I actually prefer watching the women, because the men’s game are so hard hitting that there is often little strategy and the winner is usually the player or team that can hit the hardest.

    But to each their own. We all have limited time for leisure and so if you have a choice of sporting events to watch than you are going to pick one that entertains you. But it’s important to remember how sports develop and how we get those top level athletes, and women have not had the history of support that men have had and still don’t.

  6. I few years ago I read that the top Women’s Track times (world wide) were not as fast as the High School boys. I thought it was someone just making things up. But I looked it up.

    The women’s record is 10.49 in the 100M. The record, btw, has an asterisk. It is believed the anemometer on that race was broken and didn’t pick-up the tail-wind that boosted her (the wind had been averaging between 4.9 and 5.2 on other anemometers).

    The second-best women’s time is 10.64. This time, one without a record-nullifying tail-wind, is also not good enough to beat the HS boys.

    The boys (under 18) record is 10.19. The 4-way tie for 9th fastest time is 10.27.

    So with or without the wind, the women just can’t keep up. And I think this holds true for virtually all sports that require speed and/or strength.

  7. I don’t care about dumb dunks. It’s not the way the game was meant to be played. As a man, the NBA bores me, and I greatly prefer the WNBA. LeBron James should join the Globetrotters if he wants to do that. And have you seen Ivory Latta shoot a three pointer and make it from farrrrr away? No one would ever say “You see that all the time in the NBA.”

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