The goal was to find the stupid finish line.
This 5K was going on forever. And it was hot. And wouldn’t the race just please end? Soon?
It was one of my first 5K races and I was suffering. In the final mile, I started to close in on a guy who was talking frequent walk breaks. Eventually, I passed him. For some reason, the look on his face was, well, noticeable to me, even in my own running discomfort. It was unmistakeable — the guy was clearly perturbed.
He had just been passed by a girl in a skirt.
Suddenly, run-walk dude picked up the pace and beat me to the finish line.
I didn’t care so much. But I did make a mental note.
There are some guys who can’t handle being passed by a girl. Especially one wearing a running skirt.
Now, we could start the discussion of why I run in a skirt (quite simply, I find them uber comfortable) and on the whole conversation about femininity, athleticism, identity and image (which, while fascinating and nuanced and fun in my world, is best left for another day).
Instead, it’s the story that came to mind when reading recent criticism of the University at Connecticut women’s basketball team.
Ah, the Huskies. (And yes, they are the Huskies, not the Lady Huskies. Again, another topic for another day)
For those not in the college basketball know, UConn has won 72 straight games — an NCAA record. But it’s not just that the Huskies are winning, it’s that they are blowing out their opponents. All of those wins have come by double-digit figures with an average margin of victory of 32.5 points.
This has caused consternation in one corner and ridicule in another. Women’s basketball isn’t competitive, some complain. This is boring, others say. This can’t be good for the game, still others opine.
Personally, the top 4 teams in my Associated Press Top 25 ballot have been consistent for much of the second half of the season: UConn, Stanford, Nebraska and Tennessee. But take UConn out of the mix and throw any of those other Top 25 teams on the floor, and you’re in for some pretty darn entertaining basketball. To say that the sport is not competitive is plain wrong. It has a dominant team. A queen and master. But the rest of field can abide by the “on any given night” philosophy.
We see this theme often in women’s sports — the fear of what dominance brings and means. (See recent discussions about dropping women’s hockey and softball from the Olympics because the North American teams are just too good. This, however, doesn’t seem to be a concern when the NBA start-studded American roster beats up on the rest of the international men’s basketball world.)
But perhaps it’s even simpler than all that.
Perhaps, it’s just about some guys getting chicked.
Which brings me back to my running skirt story.
“Getting chicked” is a phrase most often used in the running, cycling and multi-sport to describe a guy getting beat by a gal.
On the one hand, it’s meant to be a derogatory comment toward the guy, kinda like the “you throw like a girl” slur. On the other, some women have embraced it, much like turning “tomboy” into a positive image.
Women have different experiences when they pass men on the course ranging from marriage proposals to cursing. And while in my personal experience the majority of guys I see in training and racing are supportive, there is that vocal pocket of guys who hate getting chicked.
These are the same guys who are complaining about UConn women’s basketball and want women’s hockey out of the Olympics.
If it’s boring to you, don’t watch it. But don’t be surprised if the sport gets stronger when you’re not paying attention.
That’s exactly how you end up getting chicked at the finish line.