Tag: Edwin Moses

WOMEN RACING WOMEN. NOT SO FAST

It all used to be so simple.  Then again, it all used to be pretty screwed up, too.  But in today’s charged political climate, where folks can be as sensitive as a hemorrhoidal pole-sitter, the politics of gender and self-identification remain fraught with — what did I just read today, that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will raise their baby as “gender-fluid”? Gender-fluid?  Let’s see how that affects the Olympic schedule in 2044.

And so after a weeks worth of testimony at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, the case against the IAAF for requiring reduced testosterone levels in so-called hyperandrogenic athletes – or women runners with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) – now awaits a decision by a three-person panel on or before March 26th. 

Caster Semenya in Doha 2016
(Andrew McClanahan/PhotoRun)

The case against the proposed IAAF ruling, brought by double Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya of South Africa, is not as simple as restricting performance-enhancing drug use. In fact, in what seems a massive irony, the IAAF is looking to sanction performancerestricting drug use to reduce the testosterone levels of certain female athletes, which begs the question, why not do the same for performance-enhancing drug use, if the point is to guarantee a level playing field? And how level is level? And how fluid is fluid? And have we stepped upon that old slippery slope?

Let’s begin here. The whole purpose of a competition is to discover through the intricate calculus of talent, training, and tactics how one athlete gets to the finish line ahead of all others. It is the ineffable nature of that calculus that makes the sport intriguing. Take away the unknowable, replace it with certainty, and you’ve essentially eliminated the game.

Why don’t women just compete against men?  Because we would know the result before the start.

I went grocery shopping with the wife yesterday and she was lamenting how heavy the bags were as she handed them to me from the cart to put in the trunk.

“You’re older than I am and I work out with weights in the gym,” she said  “But you only have to use one hand to lift the bags while I have to use two. It’s not fair.”

There it is. I have testosterone coursing through my system at a level she doesn’t, and testosterone is the separating agent that distinguishes a man’s strength and power advantage over a woman’s – after boys and girls compete on an equal basis before the onset of puberty. The IAAF suggests the way to make things right in the middle distance races from 400m to 1500m is to reduce that hormonal advantage certain women have over others. Semenya and her advocates suggest otherwise. (more…)

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NFL ANNOUNCER JUMPS TO TRACK REFERENCE

So I was watching yesterday’s Green Bay vs. Minnesota NFC Wild-Card game on NBC. In the second quarter, when the game was still close, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers connected with his third-year tight end Tom Crabtree on a delayed screen pass near the right sideline.  On the play Crabtree leapt over the first would-be Viking tackler who came in low to avoid contact with the 6’4”, 245 pound bruiser.  The play netted 10 yards, and elicited the following exchange between broadcasters Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels.

Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth
Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth

“Now we haven’t seen anybody flipped yet in that type of situation,” began the former wide-receiver Collinsworth, “but it’s a dangerous move to try for Crabtree.”

“He wants to be Edwin Moses or Renaldo Nehemiah,” chuckled Michaels.

The Packers went on to an easy 24-10 win to advance in this year’s NFL Playoffs.

But I sat there thinking, ‘I know Al Michaels is a track fan. In fact, he was the lead ABC track announcer for the 1984 Olympics. But is this the state of track and field in 2013, that even after an Olympic year when the USA totalled 29 medals we have to go back thirty years to make a track reference that the public will understand?’

Michaels didn’t toss around the names of current intermediate and high hurdle Olympic kings like Felix Sanchez or Aries Merritt. Can you imagine? And this is after Merritt had one of the greatest high hurdle seasons in history, culminating with his astonishing 12.80 world record, and New York-born, USC-educated Dominican Sanchez won his second Olympic gold medal to go along with two World Championships golds.  In other words, neither man was an unknown in the world of track & field (athletics).

Now if Al or Cris would have tossed out Usain Bolt’s name when Viking’s star running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball, that would’ve made sense, since Peterson has deluded himself into thinking he could beat Bolt in a sprint.  But think in terms of track’s penetration into the general sporting consciousness when the only names from track that spring to mind for a mainstream network commentator come from the 1980s.

Should it matter?

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