Editor's Notebook

| March 2007

Discouraged for girls, sport now stirs fancy

When I read the article on Page 14 about a basketball camp for women 50 and over, I had an immediate, visceral reaction: Where do I sign up?

As one who lobbied our boss to add a basketball court to our parking lot (he declined - something about people needing to park), I know the urge to dribble and shoot. Not that I'm any good at it - I like the idea in sort of a nostalgic, historic way. In high school, I got to play basketball in P.E. and enjoyed it a lot more than that hideous dodge-ball game or calisthenics.

I figure if I attend a basketball camp, I might regain whatever puny expertise I once had and finally get a ball to go through the hoop without standing directly under it. Of course, I might also finally snap this unhappy hamstring in my right leg as well, but … you never know.

Since I've already revealed my age by using the terms 'P.E.' and 'calisthenics,' I might as well go all the way and say that I remember women's sports before Title IX, and that I was in the generation of girls who weren't allowed to play sports because they weren't ladylike. My parents particularly forbade basketball, even though our school's girls' team consistently won state championships, and the coach had been enthusiastically recruiting my sister after seeing her on the court in P.E. (I note that he didn't have the same reaction after seeing my smooth moves. I was more enthusiastic than actually skilled, but I figure practice could have taken care of that.)

Playing basketball would make us masculine, Mom and Dad believed, with 'big, horsey muscles.' Where they got that idea, I don't know, but they believed it stead­fastly, despite the obvious fact that the basketball girls were in great shape from two-a-days most of the school year and that other girls in our corn-fed community tended to go very thick very fast. Where my sisters and my marriageability was concerned, logic was out the window.

So swimming became my thing and I worked during college as a lifeguard and water safety instructor. My muscles remained lean, I remained marriageable, and my sister stopped participating in athletics altogether. But reading that article about the basketball camp activated some sort of muscle memory, and I just know I'd pick the game up again in no time.

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