Let’s start with the obligatory apologies all Mom’s are supposed to say to other Mom’s who parent differently. This is not a judgement post. This is not a call out post. This is not a shaming post. Rather, this is a Mom who has an opinion and would like to share the reasons behind her opinion with the hopes of encouraging and yes, even changing other Mom’s minds around her. (Men, if your reading this, you just don’t understand Mom-shaming so please continue to the main point).
The Little League World Series is on television again. I have a great dislike of the televising of 12 year old kids playing baseball. It is just ripe with parents and coaches alike willing to exploit children or highlight bad behavior. But this post is not about whether the Little League World Series should be televised. This is a post about girls playing in Little League.
This year a girl made headlines pitching for one of the American teams. (Note: this is a young girl and this is not a shaming post, so I will not include her or any of the other girls names). She is the 19th girl to compete in the American Little League World Series and not the first to pitch or make a name for herself. A few years back the media coverage given to one girl made me sick to my stomach (not because she was a girl but because she was 12). So this is not a new phenomenon. Actually it seems to be a yearly occurrence to see girls in Little League and I have a problem with that.
We have discussed this repeatedly but you can read this post about how men are better athletes than women. But girls are actually better athletes than boys for most of their childhood. Girls tend to be bigger and stronger and mature quicker than boys. Girls are also much better at listening and learning (for most of their life).
But the switch from boy to man is much more beneficial in athletics than the switch from girl to women. Almost all men are more athletic and better skilled at sports after they have hit puberty than before. This is certainly not the case for women.
Many girls that were fine athletes have there athletic careers robbed with puberty. The growth of female parts, mainly the breasts and hips, have huge impacts on the ability of women to play sports.
Doubt me? You clearly have not competed in youth sports through puberty. But lets look at Simona Halep.
Halep has been the World Number 1 tennis player (she is currently 4) and has now won 2 Majors. But when she burst on the scene she was a teenager and won the Juniors French Open. After turning pro and at the age of 17 she went through breast reduction surgery. She said of her reasons for the surgery, “It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play.”
Not all women have the resources or desire to have such a major surgery for their sporting career. But the evidence is around you in sports like swimming and gymnastics. As a participator in swimming I have story after story of girls who were phenomenal swimmers until about 13 when puberty hit and they never reached those times again. It’s real. Is it unfair? Yes of course. But again, those parts allow women to create life and have children. Broader hips and larger breasts are biologically needed to bear children. Whereas when boys mature into men, its muscle mass and height that grows.
Back to Little League.
At the age of where the Little League World Series participants are is right where the shift occurs. Some of the boys have hit puberty or are transitioning through it, others have not. Girls at this age, most have hit it or are going through it. In other words, this is the age when boys and girls are the most equal on the sports field.
But the years that lead up to this point have been advantage, girl. These girls did not just start playing Little League. They have been playing it for years. My two sons play Little League and every year a smattering of girls join their League. But in these younger years the advantage is clearly with the girls.
This is a general rule and not without its exceptions. There is also the fact that most boys enjoy sports more than girls do, at any age. I am talking about athletic girls, girls who want to and are talented at sports. The Little League World Series is the best of childhood baseball in the the United States, very few youth baseball players make it to that level. Even less girls play in boys baseball leagues. I am not saying this is an epidemic or widespread problem. But it is still unfair, especially how we glorify those girls that excel. This article is about the unfairness with which we treat boys and girls at the expense of boys.
The unfairness comes with what happens after Little League? We have given girls an advantage for years now over boys, do we make them continue to play with the boys who are now young men? Of course not. Would we allow high school boys who want to play softball play with the girls? No, that is completely unfair. Eventually high school softball would be dominated by boys and leave few spots for girls.
I talk about this extensively in this article, but when boys become men and girls women the separation of the genders is to the advantage to women. If collegiate athletic departments only had one basketball team or tennis team or baseball team, not a single woman would make the team. We separate the genders to make a fair place for women to compete against each other.
So why should we allow girls to take spots from boys as children?
There are also arguments to be made that boys need spaces without girls. That is a healthy developmental thing for both boys and girls, to have activities and events where boys and girls are separate. Letting “Boys be boys” has been taken to the extreme in the rise of the #MeToo Movement. It is somehow become a sexist thing or a justification for terrible behavior that boys sometimes do. This post is not about justifying bad behavior. But is acknowledging basic differences in the sexes. I am arguing that we need all boy activities like Little League or Boy Scouts. But these Leagues are being forced to open their doors and services to girls in the name of gender equality. At the expense of little boys.
There is also the argument that softball is a fantastic sport and by encouraging or highlighting girls that choose baseball over softball it hurts an amazing, girls-only sport like softball. Which if you didn’t know hosts it’s own Junior League World Series.
These are a few of the reasons I won’t put my daughter in Little League. I do love softball, just as I love baseball. My boys need a place as they mature and go through adolescence where girls aren’t, including very athletic girls. But mainly it is unfair. It’s unfair to boys, which I know in a world that believes everything is sexists when you defend boys, matters. Righting the wrongs of past chauvinist actions does not mean hurting boys today. We ought to be farther seeing than that. We have history to look at. Boys of today ought not pay the penalty of men in our past.
A story from our family lore to highlight my point.
My dad has two older sisters who were fantastic tennis players. My two Aunts played tennis at UCLA and went on to play professional tennis. They were amazing. They are amazing.
When my dad was about the age of these Little Leaguers, 12 or 13, his older sister (about 14 or 15) was preparing for a very competitive tennis tournament. My dad, who preferred baseball and basketball to tennis, was playing little tennis at the time. He had picked up the game when his sisters had, he 6 they 7 and 8. Their whole life his sisters had pounded him on the tennis court. They were legitimately good.
This day, his sister needed to hit with someone, rain had prevented her from playing for a few days and the tournament was upon her. She took her little brother out to the courts to play a set or two.
When they came home, a family legend was born. My teenage Aunt ran into the house in tears, “Mom, he beat me.”
For the first time in his life, he had beaten his sister at tennis. The teenage boy was feeling a profound sense of accomplishment beating his sister. Their Mom’s reaction, “Oh no, he didn’t!” and proceeded to mourn with her daughter.
This story has become family legend and laughed about often.
But it does make the point I am trying to make. My aunt never again beat my Dad even though he never made tennis his #1 sport and she, as I’ve said, became fabulous, playing at UCLA and on Tour.
My Dad wasn’t a better tennis player, he was going through puberty. Biology was giving him advantages my Aunt and I would never get.
I won’t let my daughter play Little League because it is unfair to boys. When we let girls who are better athletes compete with boys when it’s to their advantage logic would say we should let young men and men play with women when it is to their advantage.
I have already argued that this is happening in the trans community (read it here). It is unfair. It is unfair to boys and it is unfair to women.