Credit: © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Let The Girls Play

A Blog By Marc Ryan

Offsides with Marc Ryan
July 25, 2019 - 1:24 pm

I’ll admit it. There’s always been a “Why?” nature to me. I challenge and question any number of things on a regular basis. As a kid, it would get me in trouble. My Dad saying “Because I said so” never seemed to suffice. That inquisitive nature has stayed with me through the years, and one thing that’s always bothered me is softball.

The very existence of it.

Why does softball exist? To describe softball is to take baseball, Nerf it completely (Nerf meaning to make it child-like, similar to the toys you had as a kid), and then putting it in a sandbox. They play on small fields, they have weird rules, and the distance between bases is shorter. Baserunners can’t steal unless the ball has left the pitchers hand onward to the plate, the ball is bigger, it’s neon, and it’s all largely senseless.

The purpose of this column is not to offend you if you or your daughter love the sport. Rather, I can’t decipher why girls and women weren’t permitted to play baseball in the first place.

My first notion about this came when I saw the movie “A League Of Their Own,” with Madonna, Tom Hanks, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few. I’m not particularly a sports movie guy. I have a hard time suspending disbelief as it is, let alone to get into a clearly contrived fiction story when I can simply watch the real thing. But THAT movie captivated me. It was so well done, and it left me wondering why that display of fiction isn’t reality.

This strong feeling, which borders on anger at this point, came to a head again for me this week when an online video of a young baseball player of the female gender named Ashlynn went viral. It went viral because she’s diving all over the outfield making plays. It went viral because she’s a girl. It went viral because she’s been told girls shouldn’t play baseball.

I’m angered because no one has ever answered the “Why?” Why can’t girls play baseball? Why were they pushed toward softball to begin with? Softball was initially invented as a sort of NBA Jam type exhibition for macho, beer league baseball guys to show off. It was never supposed to be the game forced upon young girls.

There is no biological or physiological reason girls can’t play baseball. There’s nothing about a woman’s anatomy that would make baseball any easier on women than man, or any easier on women than softball is.

You: “But Marc Ryan, why aren’t you saying this for all sports? Why isn’t there a professional women’s football league apart from one featuring lingerie?”

Football IS the exception. Taking helmets to the midsection repeatedly could be harmful to a woman’s reproductive organs. That’s somewhat of a no-brainer. It’s obvious.

Why is no else challenging this?

I stand corrected.

“We are Neanderthals in claiming this is a national pastime and keeping it closed to half the nation,” Jennifer Ring, author of Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball told The Daily Beast.

A tip of the softball cap to you, Jennifer, as that is the only diamond sport you’ve been permitted to play.

Baseball is a better sport than softball. The dimensions of the field, overhanded pitching, the movement within the game and limited small ball activity make it so. At times, entire softball games are played with the advance the runner over mentality; an attempt to win 1-0. What is this, soccer?

It’s a Nerfed product for what decision-making men clearly once believed was a Nerfed gender. And the fact that it’s the only option for girls is pathetic.

MLB presently has an ad campaign which proclaims “Let The Kids Play.” Wouldn’t it be something if the “kids” they’re referencing included both boys and girls?

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