Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Must be uniform

Well I came back from vacation just in time to catch the final rounds of the Little League Softball World Championships. But I apparently missed some controversy. During tonight's game pitting the Asia-Pacific team against the East team (from Orange, CT) commentators mentioned and cameras panned to East team's centerfielder, Taylor Sullo, who had been suspended for a game. But no one would say why. After much searching (starting with the tournament's own web page which is useless--do I really have to go on a tangent about the need for quality communications/media in women's/girls' sports?) I found my answer:
East champion Orange will be without center fielder Taylor Sullo, who must
sit out a game after being ejected Sunday in a 2-1 victory over Cedar Mill
because she rolled up her shorts at the waist after her team had been warned not
to violate the uniform rule.

I probably should not be the one to question this ruling given that my sport of choice, tennis, still has rules about "uniforms"--namely the wearing of whites at posh country clubs. But it's also the sport that saw Serena Williams playing in a black catsuit at a Grand Slam tournament. So I don't think I am a hypocrite when I say "How ridiculous!" to the one-game suspension and wonder aloud whether this has anything to do with controlling the female athlete's body. Sure, an argument can be made that perhaps the rule is meant to prevent to the sexualization of young female athletes. But if these girls continue in the sport they will have to be sexualized--heterosexualized a la Jennie Finch or Cat Osterman with their short shorts (compared to their teammates'). This rule just appears to be delaying the inevitable all in the name of some form of propriety I would assume. But a form no one seems to want to talk about. The commentators and the press have been remarkably silent about the cause of the suspension.
Luckily Taylor's team pulled out a victory and she will be able to play in the championships on Thursday. And lucky for me I got home just in time to blog about it!


Amateur said...

It is ridiculous, but I'm not sure about the sexist connection. After all, there is at least one giant example from men's sports -- the NFL -- where uniform modification is also frowned upon and punished. Olympic rules are also very strict for both sexes.

ken said...

I did not really mean it was an explicitly sexist ruling but rather one that reflected a simultaneous fear of and desire for the sexualization of female athletes.
I do think uniform standards/rules would be a fascinating thing to look at. I thought I remember hearing that NCAA female basketball players have to have their shirts tucked in while noticing that male players were not subject to the same standard. But it's something I would have to look into further.

Amateur said...

If you want to talk about uniform standards the discussion begins with beach volleyball. The IVBF used to dictate maximum uniform sizes for women in the official rules. I can't find that on the IVBF web site any more, so it's possible that they have (quietly) dropped that rule, but I know that I looked it up once before.

Anyway, it might be an interesting story to pursue.

Amateur said...

Just in case you are interested, I found the document I was referring to: "Beach Volleyball Players' Uniforms Guidelines For Olympic Games."

So apparently it only applied for the Olympics. It's a hoot, anyway, so enjoy.

And here's another amusing story from the Olympics: it's all about the cheerleaders.