The 2018 Winter Olympic Games kicked off last week, and I’m as happy as the USA men’s freestyle relay team was when they beat out the French in 2008. (Just kidding – has there ever been a happier moment?)
But in all seriousness, I do love the Olympics.
This likely stems from the fact that I was a competitive swimmer, and the Summer Olympics are pretty much the only time swimming is televised nationally. But I love the Winter Olympics, too. There’s just something about watching the greatest athletes in the world compete and cheering for Team USA!
Growing up, though, I looked up to the women of Team USA Swimming.
Of course, I marveled at the men’s swim team as well. You don’t have to be a swimmer to appreciate the fact that Michael Phelps is the fastest swimmer of all time (though, not faster than a great white shark hologram, disappointingly).
But it was the women’s team that I idolized. I named my dolls after women like Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin. I dreamed about following in their footsteps.
Why was I partial to the women’s team? Because men and women are different – something I grasped instinctively, even at a young age. And as a young female athlete, it would have been unrealistic for me to hope to achieve the men’s standards. Biologically speaking, men have more muscle mass and higher bone density, making them physically stronger than women (even if women are more likely to survive an apocalypse).
I don’t say this to put down women and their accomplishments. Women are incredible. And they’ve had some incredible achievements in the world of athletics. That is certainly not lost on me.
Having women to look up to in the swimming world pushed me to be a better athlete. To me, they were an example of what women can accomplish, and they challenged me to reach my goal of becoming a collegiate swimmer. If I’d had only men to watch, I can’t say I would have had the same motivation.
Having separate men’s and women’s sports allows us to better appreciate women’s accomplishments in athletics.
So, why would we permit men to start competing in women’s sports? To start taking medals meant for women? To start taking athletic scholarships meant for women?
It seems ridiculous, but that is exactly what is happening.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee changed its policies to allow athletes to compete with members of the opposite sex if they claim to identify that way.
It’s not just in the Olympics either:
- A female MMA fighter facing Fallon Fox (a male who claims a feminine gender) received a concussion and a broken eye socket in the first round. Afterwards, in an interview, she stated she had “never felt so overpowered in [her] life.”
- In Connecticut, a male high school track athlete was allowed to compete as a girl and went on to take two state titles.
- A male volleyball player who claims a feminine gender joined an NCAA Division III women’s volleyball team. The coach noted this about the player: “What I noticed with Chloe was that she’s a strong volleyball player. She has a lot of power, and she’s also tall.”
I would have felt incredibly cheated if a man was given my women’s athletic scholarship in college – a scholarship I worked hard to earn and to keep. Or in high school, if a boy had taken my spot on the podium at the state meet.
Athletes train for years for a shot at the Olympic team. In swimming, you have to place in the top two in your event at the Olympic Trials in order to make the team. How would you feel, as a female athlete, if you placed third behind a male?
When men are permitted to compete in place of women, there’s no longer a reason to have separate men’s and women’s sports.
And sadly, it is less likely that young female athletes, like I once was, will have female role models to fuel their athletic dreams.
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