Have you ever wondered why, in the sport of figure skating, 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, it 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. Quarterbacks and their receivers demonstrate this all the time. But the perfect synchrony of a precision team performance is not achieved by such discrete instances of cooperation. It’s a matter of continuous cooperation. The sport requires continuous adjustment to others, which requires awareness of and sensitivity to others, not to mention patience, and persistence, with the practice. It’s not only about relationships – to the ice, to the music, to each other: it’s about maintaining those relationships. (Hey, this sport should be mandatory for boys 13 to 18.)
But no, this can’t be right. Consider marching bands and drill displays. They have as much precision and uniformity as a skating team. (Oh, well, give a man a gun – )
Maybe it’s because so few boys go into figure skating that after the channelling into solo, pairs, and dance, there aren’t enough left over for precision teams. Hm. There are no male corps de ballet either. Is it really jut a matter of supply and demand?
Well, maybe. Or maybe it’s just that members of a precision team have to put their arms around each other.