Wrestling and Football
Women in Wrestling and Football
The debate between the individual and the collective is exactly as old as the ideas necessary to create it. Policy is a statistical notion; it is based on the concept that humans generally behave in similar ways given similar situations, just as the consideration of the individual is based upon the concept that no two humans are alike, and therefore all are worthy of personal attention.
Ideally, every situation and person could be scrutinized in detail; however, the world is anything but ideal, and so when the rubber hits the road, it is practicality that settles the score. In this instance, the question is whether females should be allowed to join male sports teams, particularly wrestling and football. I believe that, while many female athletes are physically qualified to be involved in high-contact sports, the aggregate physique of the female gender makes it all but impossible for them to be competitive. As such, the only feasible option is to restrict females to competing within their own gender, just as males are.
It is important to note that nobody has the right to cease female contact sports altogether. According to Independent Lens, a magazine put out by PBS, there is evidence of female wrestling as a sport since the days of the Spartans. It is a tradition that is reflected across many cultures. Unfortunately, as the social dynamic between men and women evolved, female wrestling became largely an event for entertainment. GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) in particular is a franchise that has slurred female wrestling as a sport.
Popular views on female contact sports contribute significantly to the lack of females interested in getting involved. There are fifty American boys wrestling for every one girl, and this gender inequality makes a female wrestling team nearly insupportable. The other factor is that males tend to be stronger than women. In a study by the Springer Journal in 1992, the women were approximately 52% and 66% as strong as the men in the upper and lower body respectively. While this may be due in part to lifestyle difference, the same study indicates that the primary cause for increased strength is men is thicker muscle fibers, the implications of which are that the physical situation of women is unlikely to change over time. Although women do have certain physical advantages over men — for instance, the Journal of Applied Physiology ran a study in 1997 that indicated that “women tend to better preserve muscle quality with age” (Lindle) — as a rule they do not compete at the same level that men do.
Apart from physical aptitude, societal roles also play a large role. Says Susan Birrell in Women, Sport, and Culture, “it is also clear that sport is strongly associated with the male identity, with being popular and having friends. Rugby and football are archetypical here” (Birrell 35). The bonding stereotypes of the female gender are generally non-physical, and thus sports do not have as positive an association for women. As a result, of that percentage of women that are able to compete at the same level as men in contact sports never enter the arena in the first place.
Regardless of the reason, very few women get involved with contact sports, and practicality makes it difficult for those who are interested to be accommodated. Separate locker room facilities are necessary, and the team dynamics are altered fundamentally as the issue of sexual tension enters the scene. There are some who would say that it is insensitive to deny a women the chance to excel in a sport simply because men are incapable of being civil; I would argue that it is a shame that such behavior is a factor, but that ultimately schools and leagues must act in their own interest by not inviting the host of sexual harassment lawsuits that would inevitably join the inclusion of women on contact sport teams.
Thankfully, women are becoming increasingly liberated from their old roles within society, and when sufficient interest has grown, female leagues will inevitably burst from the fertile ground of American ambition. Until then, female athletes will need to find another area in which to excel.
Birrell, Susan, and Cheryl L. Cole. Women, Sport, and Culture. Champagne, Illinois: University of Illinois, 1994. 35-40.
Lindle, RS., EJ. Metter, NA. Lynch, JL. Fleg, JL. Fozard, J Tobin, TA. Roy, and BF. Hurley. “Age and Gender Comparisons of Muscle Strength in 654 Women and Men Aged 20-93 Yr.” Journal of Applied Physiology (1997). 9 Nov. 2006 http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/83/5/1581.
Miller, AE., JD. Macdougall, MA. Tarnopolsky, and DG. Sale. “Gender Differences in Strength and Muscle Fiber Characteristics.” Springerlink (1992). 9 Nov. 2006 http://www.springerlink.com/content/l47235487q162675/.
Women in Wrestling.” Independant Lens. Independant Television Services. 7 Nov. 2006 http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/girlwrestler/women.html.
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