Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Woman Plays Baseball: Is Good At It!

The channeling of girls into softball and boys into baseball is another of those arbitrary instances of sports sex segregation that doesn't make much sense.

Now, I'm not saying that men and women should necessarily play baseball together. I think it's possible that women could successfully compete with men in the sport, but (a) given that girls don't grow up playing baseball the way that many boys do and (b) baseball has a little steroid problem that exaggerates male strength, it's hard to say.

I'm also uncomfortable with implicitly saying that, since men and boys play it, baseball is the better or more elite sport. Softball is a legitimate sport in its own right and, also, softball pitcher Jenny Finch can strike out Major League Baseball players.

So, what bothers me about the baseball/softball sex segregation is that it results in ensuring that boys and girls cannot be compared to one another and of exaggerating any biological differences between the sexes. Given that boys do not seem to gain significant physiological advantages until puberty, I do think girls can (and often do) successfully compete against boys in baseball, especially when that pesky assumption of male athletic superiority doesn't get in the way.

Unfortunately, this softball/baseball segregation is rarely questioned in American society. Thus, it's nice to be reminded that, despite not being male, girls and women too can play baseball.

Via AfterEllen, blogger Heather Hogan writes about
Japanese lady pitcher Eri Yoshida who, apparently, is quite good at playing baseball with the boys and has joined a professional independent league baseball team in the US. Writes Hogan:

"So, here's the real (non-fashion) deal with Yoshida: She's been a household name in Japan since 2008, when she became the first woman to be drafted by a pro baseball team (she was still in high school!). She toured with the Arizona Winter League earlier this year, pitching ten games and going 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA. Her fastball only clocks about 80MPH, but her signature knuckleball — taught to her by Tim Wakefield — is what she's placing her hope on."

Good luck to her!

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