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Sports

Lots of hockey. Lots of golf. Other sports too. 

On LLWS: Enough

Minivan Dad

For the record: I think Mone Davis is a fantastic Little League pitcher. She seems to be a very intelligent and personable young woman. I imagine she will be very successful in life, possibly even in sports. She will not be a professional pitcher, just like all of the other wonderful young pitchers who have come through the Little League World Series over the years, boy or girl.

Also for the record, I'm not complaining that the little league teams received the daily coverage they did. The Philly and Chicago stories were exciting and deserved some attention. Hey, if Philly wants to hold a parade for the Taney Dragons, even if they didn't get to the US championship game, great. Great for the Dragons, great for Philly.

Last week, though, Mone Davis was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated! ESPN analysts compared her delivery to Pedro Martinez. Twice in one inning. Experts debated ad nauseum what her endorsement potential might be. Her endorsement potential! It's.... Insane. 

(This doesn't even take into account the other problem with ESPN's expert analysis, which lauded her ability to throw split finger change ups and sweeping breaking balls while an epidemic of ulnar collateral ligament elbow injuries sweeps the major leagues. If Mone really wants to play basketball for UConn, she might want to consider cutting back on the curve.)

Sports and sociology experts anointed Ms Davis as a generational role model for young girls. Really? Because she plays little league baseball? According to most sports media, not even boys want to play baseball like we used to.

It's completely disingenuous. All of the celebrity support, the fawning politicians, and the attention from pro athletes and major media outlets doesn't change the main fallacy. If Mone Davis played in a girls baseball league, no one would care other than her parents and her teammates. Any  "expert" who claims otherwise is lying. I've seen too many 10:30 pm girls high school hockey games to believe otherwise.

I don't believe it helps girls athletics, or girl athletes, to preferentially glorify an example of a girl competing with boys. (Ask Michelle Wie and her parents how that worked out for them.) I'm most familiar with ice hockey, in which girls compete with boys well into their teenage years, and often into adulthood. Sometimes it's purely because of availability of a local girls team, but not always. What's the problem? A lot of the best young girls' hockey players, and their families, think that they have to continue to play on boys' teams to be successful in the sport, because the girls' game either isn't good enough for them or doesn't generate enough attention for their future aspirations. So they don't play on the girls' teams, or they treat the girls's teams that they play on as their secondary commitment. Which keeps the girls' teams and leagues from being as good as they can be. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that holds back the girls' game.

How is 13-year old Mone, as great a kid as she seems to be, a more influential or inspirational role model than Brittney Griner, Lexi Thompson, or the Lamoureux sisters, among countless others? What about Becky Hammon? What, those names aren't that familiar? Gee.

The national media is very good at figuring out what it thinks it can sell, and cloaking it in some kind of social relevance. Don't give me all the little girls holding Mone signs and cheering for her as the reason why she received so much attention. Kids will cheer for whatever is exciting, if it's marketed to them. Make no mistake, Mone was both. Girls cheered for the women's Olympic hockey team, too. They didn't make the cover of Sports Illustrated.

There are hundreds of thousands of role model girls and women out there, playing sports, tearing their ACLs, getting concussions, giving up their homecoming dances and convocation ceremonies, and later even putting off starting their families, to compete at all levels of athletics, against each other. Yet they're lucky if they receive a tiny fraction of the attention that Mone Davis garnered for being the winning pitcher in one little league baseball game.

Honestly, I thought we had passed the point as a society where girls have to prove their athletic prowess by competing against boys. I guess I was wrong. That's really too bad.