Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sad news

I know everyone is posting about this, but I would be remiss not to at least post a link.
The concept that her diagnosis is not going to affect her, though, as some quoted in certain articles seems to suggest, is a little optimistic. Even if she can temper the disease medically, I am sure it will significantly affect her ability to recruit. Because it is uncertain how long she will be able to continue, I would imagine recruits and their families would be hesitant to commit. Of course, when and if she leaves, there will be a long line of excellent prospects waiting for that position.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What have I been saying?

Women's intercollegiate basketball is not that far away, my friends. And given my current status as a resident of western Massachusetts, I hear about the progress of the UMass-Amherst Minutewomen all the time. And I cringe every time. Because what exactly is a Minutewoman??
Looks like I am not alone in my questioning of the name, its history, and its effects.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Poetry Friday

August Peonies

Lallygagging on bent stems, late
this year because of the snow
in May, their rag-tag magenta
cluster-heads freshen the still heat
like a rush of wind in the leaves
or the cool brush of deep sea
crinolines as the ripple kiss
of a breeze opens their bunched petals
just enough to let them breathe
before they ease back
into light repose, poised
at the edge of time-lapse
attention, like us, who lose
momentum in the heavy air
rich with the scent of ripening
wheat that drifts in from the fields
over the slow-moving river
as the afternoon nods and lengthens
into shade, into thoughtfulness,
and the sky deploys an argosy
of softly tinted clouds, fresh
blooms without stems
that sail where we cannot
go, all the way to the edge
of everything where daylight looks
back, once, then disappears.

George Amabile

Monday, August 08, 2011's cold in here...

...there must be some sexism in the atmosphere.

I think I perhaps knew something about scantily clad young women (note that they are always referred to as girls) on ice skates who come out during NHL games for various reasons. But I don't watch much professional hockey anymore opting to engage in slightly less cognitive dissonance by watching intercollegiate hockey. So I guess I chose not to think about how hockey--like so many other sports these days--is bringing out the babes to arouse the crowd--and shovel some ice chips.
This article with accompanying video--which is mandatory viewing because the article so doesn't tell the whole story--is about the tryouts the Penguins held recently for the 2011-12 Ice Crew.
Tell me--what do you envision when someone says ice crew in the context of professional hockey. I think mostly men--college age dudes and/or older guys with bellies--shuffling out on the ice in their black sneakers, khakis, and nylon team jackets during the period breaks to take the nets off their posts as the zamboni goes round and round. Then they shovel the ice remnants into the tunnel. And then if there's an ice emergency, they shuffle a little faster out on the ice with buckets of water and various small hand tools to fix large chips or other ice deformities.
I do not think of 20-something women in tight spandex-y pants or short, short skirts and midriff tops, tummies tanned, large smiles on their faces, skating round and round--and then shoveling some ice.
But this is what the Ice Crew for the Penguins is. And it's a highly prized job. Over 50 women tried out this year. Only seven make the crew.
And it's a really hard job. Just listen to one of the women who made the crew who feels "truly blessed" to be on the other side of tryouts which were:
"so nerve-wracking. You're thinking about technique and the words you say, how you portray yourself, and posture. It's a lot to think about."
Lest one thinks this is all about looks--it's not. These women have to go out into the "community." They are hired out for events. Not sure what kind of events. So the words they say are important. Also, they are tested on their ice sweeping skills during tryouts. So maintaining good posture while moving that broom around the cones could indeed be nerve-wracking.
There's just so much going on here.

Let me point out that if you're trying to find out the exact purpose of the ice crew--most often referred to as "ice girls"--you will hard pressed to do so. It seems that most NHL teams have them these days. But I can't seem to find a list of duties or required skills. Some history about the the position and how it came to be? Good luck. You have to wade through pages of search results that are all about showing you their cleavage, their legs, their asses, their tan bellies, how "hot" they look holding shovels, and how they never stop smiling.
They have been equated with cheerleaders. These women must be far more skilled though. Because they have to arouse the crowd without the choreographed dance routines and without ever saying a word. How DO they do it?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Poetry Friday returns

...with this poem from Matthew Zapruder's 2010 collection Come All Your Ghosts.


Come on all you ghosts.
Bring me your lucky numbers
that failed you, bring me

your boots made of the skin
of placid animals
who stood for a while in the snow.

Bring me your books
made of blue sky
stitched together with thread

made of the memory
of how warm
even the most terrible

among us has felt
the skin of his or her beloved
in the morning to be.

Come on all you ghosts,
try to make me forget
one summer lost

in a reservoir and another
I keep in my chest.
Come on all you ghosts,

try to make me repeat
the most terrible thing I said
to someone and I will

if the mind of that someone
could ever be eased.
Come on let’s vote

for no one in the election
of who is next to die.
Come on all you ghosts,

I know you can hear me,
I know you are here,
I have heard you cough

and sigh when I pretend
I do not believe
I have to say something important.

Probably no one will die
of anything I say.
Probably no one will live

even a second longer.
Is that true?
Come on all you ghosts,

you can tell me now,
I have seen one of you becoming
and I am no longer afraid,

just sad for everyone
but also happy this morning I woke
next to the warm skin

of my beloved. I do not know
what terrible marvels
tomorrow will bring

but ghosts if I must join you
you and I know
I have done my best to leave

behind this machine
anyone with a mind
who cares can enter.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lingerie--not just for football players anymore

While I certainly do not support the concept and execution of the Lingerie Football League, I see why it exists. It plays on a variety of sexual fetishes and, of course, makes these female athletes far less threatening because of the sexualization and because what they are doing doesn't look like "real" football. Again, not a fan. Wish it would go away. Will write letters or engage in other methods of discouragement to get that to happen.
What did genuinely surprise (ever so cynical) me is the news that there is now a Lingerie Basketball League. I found out about it on some mom blog. Said mom does not seem too upset, after her initial questioning, that the league exists because, once you get past the uniforms, you can see (there's a video) that they are skilled.
Yes. They are skilled. But there are a lot of women who are skilled basketball players. They play at all levels: high school, college, professionally, recreationally, in the pick-up games at my gym. They don't wear bras, and ass-cheek revealing butt huggers, garter belts, and some kind of ribbons that are laced up their legs. In other words, it's kind of hard to get past the uniforms. In fact, I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to "get past" the uniforms. After all, the league's reason for existence is the uniform. Why else would it be called the Lingerie Basketball League? And though the writer tries to argue that the uniforms are similar to--if not less revealing--than those worn by beach volleyball players, I'm not buying it. Yes, those uniforms are skimpy--arguably unnecessarily so--but they fit the sport, which is played on a beach.
Other problems with the league:
1) Sure, players have to be good; but they also have to be pretty. They have to fit a type. They are not large forwards planted under the basket ready for the pass or the rebound. As one player said: "we play hard and we look doing it." A prescribed and mandatory looking good.
2) The players are constantly referred to as girls. (Watch the video.)
3) The coverage highlights the pushing and shoving. A "reporter" asks one of the players if the other girls are just too tough for her because she is tiny and so demure. She's also Asian playing with a majority of black woman.
The league seems to be in its infancy. And indeed it's very infantilizing. I hope it goes away before it reaches the Terrible Twos.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

In case you didn't believe me...

...Dr. Mary Jo Kane has a piece in The Nation about the yes-we're-still-talking-about-this debate over whether sex sells women's sports. The answer, as I've noted before, using Kane's research, is no.
Kane opens with a quote from an article by Wendy Parker. While the quote--about a female soccer player who seems non-plussed by her status as Playboy's third sexiest soccer player--is apt, do we really need to support Wendy Parker in her ongoing recovery from feminism and paradoxical support of women's sports?