One good thing about television stations’ mega-coverage of the Olympics is that women’s events are shown a lot. Often within close temporal proximity to men’s events. Comparison is inevitable. And interesting.
Consider volleyball. Now the women, when they dive for the ball, they do this really neat shoulder roll: it’s smooth, efficient, and really cool to see – you hardly know they went down, they’re back on their feet in a flash. The men’s technique? They do a belly flop. Really, it’s sort of a chest first body slam. Some follow through with a give-me-ten marines push-up, but most just kind of lie there for a second, face in the floor. I suppose they think the move looks dramatic, extra-heroic. I think it looks stupid.
And men’s basketball, now that’s not even a sport anymore. The guys are simply too big. Give me a ball small enough to hold upside-down with one hand, and I’ll be doing some pretty fancy dribbling too. Give me a net so low to the ground I can just reach up and touch it, and I’ll slam dunk every time. And give me a court I can cover in five strides, hell, I’ll play a whole game without even breaking into a sweat.
And yet even with these size advantages, men’s play pales in comparison to women’s play. For example, men pass the ball a lot less often – even though it’s easier to do so (one hand to throw/catch it, the other to screen the throw/catch). And even though they barely need to jump to make a basket, their timing and coordination is so poor, they hit the basket on their way down, often grabbing on to it for dear life so they can at least land on their feet. (By the way, a couple hundred pounds hanging onto the rim – I don’t know about you, but we used to yell at anyone who bent the rim and then kick them out of the game!)
And gymnastics – now, the differences between women’s and men’s gymnastics have always been rather obvious. For men, one of the big balance moves is a front scale: look at me, I can stand on one foot. For the women, the display of balance occurs on a 4″ wide beam, 3-4′ off the ground, and they practically land in a front scale – after an aerial-back-handspring-with-no-hands-something-or-other.
And the high bar. One bar. Oooooh. Try flipping around two of them, set at different heights.
And the men’s floor. Homophobia at its best. First rule, no music. That would be too much like dancing. (Even though men have been known to dance on occasion.) (Some even have a sense of rhythm.) Second rule, no curves. Ever notice the getting-into-the-corner move? What is that? It looks like a Nazi goose step with a half-turn and a double ‘Heil Hitler’ salute.
Consider track. Have you ever wondered why it took so long (100 years) for there to be a women’s triple jump event? It’s because we’re grown up now, hopscotch isn’t much of a challenge for us. (Y’know what event I’d like to see? Men’s double-dutch. That would be entertainment.)
And Usain Bolt doing the hundred in 9.69 seconds. My dog can do better than that. And she’s only six years old. But then, she’s black too. (Still, I’d like to see Usain try it with a tennis ball in his mouth.)