My first year of high school, girls played 6-"man" basketball. Two girls from each team played offense, two played defense and two were "rovers". Only the rovers could play the entire length of the basketball court, the others could only play one end of the court.
Yes, girls were supposedly too weak and fragile to run back and forth for an entire game. (It did change the following year.)
Apparently, they were too weak to run the Boston Marathon, too.
Until 1972, women were not officially allowed to enter that race. Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb is now recognized as being the first woman to run the entire marathon, which she did unofficially in 1966. A year later, Kathrine Switzer, registered as "K.V. Switzer" and was the first woman to participate wearing a race number. You can read her own account of how and why it all happened here ==> The Real Story of Kathrine Switzer's 1967 Boston Marathon
Even though there was no official rule against women running the Boston marathon, it was simply considered "fact" that women were not capable of completing 26.2 miles.
Here's a photo of a race official physically trying to force Switzer out of the race and remove her number. Luckily, her then-boyfriend prevented that.
So, why am I traveling down memory lane today?
I recently came across an article about the head of Procter & Gamble's global beauty division, Gina Drosos, written by Patricia Sellers. This sentence set me on this little (O.K., not so little) rant...
The top boss of Procter & Gamble's (PG) global beauty division is, is, like quite a few of Fortune's Most Powerful Women, a recovering jock.
A "recovering jock?" Dear Ms. Sellers, in the immortal words of John McEnroe, "You CAN NOT be serious!"
I'm sure the author was just trying to be clever but that doesn't negate the stupidity of her statement.
Why would she write that when, as she herself notes, a larger percentage of female executives played sports compared to the general female population?
Sports teach girls discipline, teamwork and that it's O.K. to want to win. They learn to take risks, be a leader, and how to deal with and learn from failure. Athletics help develop self confidence and self esteem and teaches perseverance and resilience.
Why are those traits something women should recover from? And why would anyone, especially a woman, try to paint having participated in sports as something to distance yourself from?
"Recovering jock?" Seriously? Is Patricia Sellers a time traveler from the "Happy Days" era?
On a related note, why does the term "tomboy" even still exist? Why is it considered "ungirl-like" to climb trees, run and play sports? One of my nephews has enjoyed baking since he was young; he also plays sports. No one nowadays would consider labeling him a "sissy" because he enjoys something once considered the province of women. And yet, girls who'd rather be active than sit around playing dolls are still branded as "tomboys" and it's rarely a compliment.
If Ms. Sellers wants to cook, clean, and do laundry in heels and pearls more power to her; just leave the rest of us in 2011. :-)
You can read Patricia Sellers' entire article about Gina Drosos here ==> This beauty queen is no girly girl
What do you think? Should women refer to themselves or others as "recovering jocks?" Should we want to recover? Please leave a comment below.