American softball player Jennie Finch announced her retirement from softball last week. I have to say, I'm not too sad about this. I was never a fan of the pretty face version of softball she--and others--were promoting.
Though it will be a real loss for the game as all those men who tuned in and came out for games to see Finch and her "toothpaste commercial" smile will now abandon the game as it loses its sexiest star. Oh wait...sex appeal doesn't sell women's sports...never mind. Maybe the loss of Finch will make the game a little less heterosexual?
People are hoping that Finch will stay involved in the fight to get softball back into the Olympics, thinking, I would presume, that her "pretty face" will have some kind of wooing effect on the male-dominated IOC. Let's note that softball didn't get cut from the Olympic roster because the players were ugly. It got too closely associated with baseball and did not--allegedly--have enough of an international presence.
We'll have to see if Finch can fit it into her new schedule which will include expanding her current family. She has a husband and a son; I assume the expansion will include more children and not more spouses--but the article did not specify.
Regarding said expansion and how it relates to her retirement the article's author notes:
"When star male athletes retire, it is usually at the end of their road and it usually comes with a declaration that they "want to spend more time with their family." In women's sports, that last part really is true. Because of that, careers are cut short."
So when men say it, it's a cover for "I'm so effin' tired of putting my body through this shit" and when women say give this rationale it is more "I need to put my body through some more crazy shit and push out some kids before I can't anymore"??
Also implied is that one cannot do both. Note that Finch has done both. She had her child arguably at the prime of her career. And there are many other female athletes who have done the same. So the motherhood and athletics debate continues.
PS Check out Dr. Pat Griffin's column at Opposing Views on Finch's retirement in which she discusses the pretty factor and feminism in women's sports.