So we just got back from my son's basketball practice. His team was practicing in half of the Highview Middle School gym, while a girls team was practicing on the other side. One of the coaches from the girls team came over to our side of the gym and asked if our guys would be willing to scrimmage the girls. After a little hemming and hawing, the boys agreed and we went over to scrimmage the girls.
At my son's age (he just turned 12), it's not at all uncommon for the girls to be taller than the boys. Girls tend to mature a few years before the boys do and the girls on this team were generally as big, or bigger, than some of the kids on our team, especially the 11-year old boys. And if our guys thought that these girls were going to be shrinking violets, they were quickly disabused of that notion. The girls set up a play and our point guard, who is a thin, quick, talented kid, was attempting to guard the girl playing point guard. As the girl began to drive, another girl came up and set a moving pick that would have gotten a member of the Wild two minutes in the penalty box for roughing. Our guard went flying, knocked almost out of bounds. The pick was most certainly illegal, but in the world of scrimmages no one said a word, although Mrs. D wasn't too pleased about it. Over the course of the 1/2 hour or so that the kids scrimmaged, at least three of our kids were sent sprawling in a similar fashion, including my son.
After it was over, our kids were more than a little surprised that they had been manhandled by a bunch of girls. But I think there are a few lessons here:
First, athletics for girls has changed a lot since the early days after the implementation of Title IX. Girls these days are taught to play the game hard and not to back down.
Second, boys underestimate girls at their peril. Yes, gender roles ultimately remain the same, but this generation of girls is learning to be more aggressive in all sorts of ways. There's been a pretty lively debate about how girls and boys are educated these days. Girls are now overtaking boys in a number of metrics and how this plays out over time will be very interesting to see. It is beyond dispute that there is a major shift underway with implications that we won't understand for some time.
My daughter is now entering this world, too. She will be playing basketball this year in the "Little Dribblers" program, which teaches basic skills and doesn't really involve a lot of scrimmaging or games. My guess is that she and her peers will be taught to be aggressive as well. What will that mean for her? Hard to say. But what she learns on the basketball court will have ramifications for how she sees the larger world. And it's possible that if she decides she wants to stay with basketball, in 3 or 4 years she might be knocking some boy on his butt.