Girls got skills

The first time I noticed her she was strutting through the gym carrying her basketball under an arm and swaggering toward the court, the one that is predominantly populated by some pretty big and aggressive-playing dudes. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, which is the way it’s been every time I’ve seen her. And I loved how she let her shorts hang a quarter-way down her butt like some of the young guys do. I continued to watch in amazement from my elliptical trainer as she shot around with the men and found her way into a game.

From my vantage point, I could see her running up and down the court with the guys, none of whom passed her the ball. The scene reminded me of the first time I let my puppy loose on the beach to play with the big dogs, the way she struggled to keep up and was ultimately bullied and came running back to me.

The Go Team song, “Grip Like a Vice” came up on my Shuffle:

…So get ready for this
Get ready for this
Party people in the place, get ready for this
To you!
So what you wanna do?
So do you wanna rock the house and turn this mutha out?

Fly girls, are you with us?
And if you’re ready to rock, to help me turn it out
Fly girls, are you with us?
And if the world know what we’re talkin’ about

Overwhelmed, my eyes burned with tears.

Our heroine finally got the ball a couple of times; she completed a nice bounce pass into the lane, which some guy wasted on a feebly attempted lay-up – a blown dime in basketball vernacular. The next time she got the ball, she shot a nice fifteen-foot jumper, which was good for a basket. The rest of the game played itself out in typical pickup fashion: little passing and much chest puffing.

She shot around with the guys after that game ended, but when a bunch of other men showed up, it was clear that she was going to get muscled out of the next match. She watched from behind the baseline and practiced her ball-handling skills, dribbling through her legs.

I have since seen her every time I’ve been to the gym. She always has her ball with her, and she usually finds her way into a game or two; the men seem to have accepted her.

I am an avid basketball fan, but unlike many, I’m not interested in college ball. I like watching street or pro ball; both of which give players the room to show off their individual skills. I do, however, appreciate college ball’s cultural significance, which is why I was vastly disappointed when a few months back, Barack filled out a bracket for the men’s NCAA tournament on ESPN but not for the women’s tournament. What’s the deal, Barack? Don’t you want to send a message to your daughters that their interests are as important as their male counterparts’?

I imagine that our president’s failure to fill out a women’s bracket was just a simple oversight. It probably didn’t even occur to him or to any of his staff that he might want to fill out a women’s bracket. This is what makes his failure even more tragic. Are women that invisible in our sports culture? Sadly, yes.

I got home from the gym and found my wife hunched over her desk, grading papers. As usual, she was working incredibly hard to support our life together. She is the bread-winner, and I do most of the cleaning, cooking, and shopping – she’s fond of saying that she’s gotten herself a nice little wife, which I find flattering – I take a lot of pride in our home and my contributions to it.

I’ll never understand why being called “girly,” when hurled from schoolyard bullies or Governators (arguably the same thing) can possibly be considered an insult. From what I can gather, women are generally the toughest among us.

What I didn’t mention is that I’m not only a basketball fan but that I love to play as well. I’ve just never had the courage to run with those dudes that play at my gym – they are BIG!

10 responses to “Girls got skills”

  1. Marleyfan says:

    Nice post, and good writing. I love to see women compete with men; even more fun when they win.

  2. LP says:

    Scoots McG, I love this post! Especially since I deeply misunderstood your feelings about girls playing b-ball with the guys early on in our relationship. As I recall, the first time you told me about your weekly b-ball game, when I implied I’d like to join in sometime, I thought I heard something akin to a snort in response. At the time, I didn’t know you well enough to know you’re not a sexist jackalope. But now I know, of course, and this post confirms it. I probably thought I heard a snort because I was insecure about my own game, especially since Jeremy is apparently a soaring god on the hardwood.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Scotty, according to your definition, you’re one of the girliest players I’ve ever seen on the court. And speaking of girly: Parrish, I would love for you to come play some bball down in LB (though the group does tend to bristle at newcomers…)

    (And, uhh, btw, there’s a lot less soaring, much less godliness, in my game these days. I prefer the term “earth-bound competence” to describe my skillz.)

    This is a super-enjoyable post. (Aren’t you glad you didn’t get me to post for you, after all?)

  4. J-Man says:

    Scotty,
    Such an interesting insight, seen from a different lens. What great imagery! And you are an excellent homemaker – aside from my huzzbin, you’re my favoritest girly-man!

  5. Natasha says:

    “Overwhelmed, my eyes burned with tears.”

    Dude, I don’t think even that girl felt the situation as dramatic as you did. I can just picture you (all in slow motion) on the elliptical, gripping the handles tight, looking at her through the murky gym glass: she is boxed-in, flouted by the big dogs, brandishing her ball in vain, big shareware shorts, manumitted by the society, repudiated by the men…

    Somehow, I have a feeling that she can stand up for herself more than most men can… just a hunch…

  6. LP says:

    5: Hey now, don’t be harshing on Scotty G. I can totally see him tearing up at a scene like this; he’s a sensitive and thoughtful guy. Why bash him for it?

  7. Natasha says:

    I love Scotty, he is awesome! It takes some guts to just say things like this out loud. It’s not a girly quality at all.

    I suppose, it was more about that girl. It goes for guys and girls the same. It’s about how you feel inside. If you feel intimidated or bullied, then you will be. But as long as you know yourself, it really doesn’t matter if others accept you. That’s how she probably felt.

  8. Dave says:

    Very nicely observed, Scotty.

  9. bmaury says:

    Gorgeous post Scotty. Great read. B

  10. Rogan says:

    Thanks Scotty. I really enjoyed reading this.