What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander

Play associated audio

A trivia question for you: Who today is the leading jockey who was born in the U.S.?

The answer is Rosie Napravnik. Yes, of all our American jockeys, the one with the best record is a woman.

Napravnik's mounts have earned more than $11 million this year, and none of the seven jocks who have earned more began life in this country. So, even in a dangerously athletic job like race-riding, a woman can sometimes compete straight up with men.

But at the same time that Napravnik was riding the 2-year-old champion, Shanghai Bobby, to a stirring victory in the Breeders Cup Juvenile, the top coach in women's basketball — who happens not to be a woman — was proposing that the baskets be lowered by 7 inches in the women's game as compensation, so that the shorter ladies could play against each other more like the taller gentlemen do.

Actually, Geno Auriemma, the UConn coach who led the American team to an Olympic gold this summer, is really not suggesting anything radical in the matter of cross-gender games. Already, women play with a smaller basketball than do men. The net in women's volleyball is lower. On the golf course, women hit from tees more forward. The games are the same. There is simply the recognition that men and women aren't, and in most sports some dimensions should be varied to accommodate le difference.

Now, this doesn't mean that never the twain should meet. Remember a few years ago, when Annika Sorenstam, the peerless golfer, was allowed to play in a PGA tournament against the men? Wasn't that a lot of fun? What a bunch of spoilsports are the International Ski Federation poo-bahs for not letting Lindsay Vonn go swooshing downhill against the men in just one lousy race.

But then, what's sauce for the gander can also be sauce for the goose. A lot of women who celebrate the equal athletic opportunity that Title IX provides simply don't like it that the new coach of the U.S. women's soccer team is a man, Tom Sermanni. You could call that carping reverse sexism, but, of course, it's also the case that no woman has ever been selected to coach a major men's team.

It's also true that for whatever symbolism might be negatively evoked in the selection of a man to coach the best women, maybe female fans should pay more attention to gritty substance. Too many women support women's soccer only once every four summers, when it's the national team in the glamorous Olympics. Two American women's pro soccer leagues have failed. Tennis, the most popular women's sport, has lost its major sponsor, Sony Ericsson, and is desperately seeking another.

But still, in what is mostly a man's world at the racetrack, it is Rosie Napravnik who has that mount on Shanghai Bobby, the winter-book favorite for the Kentucky Derby next May. Now wouldn't that be something? A Rosie winning the Run for the Roses.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Top Gear' Team Signs Deal With Amazon; New Car Show Set For 2016

The trio left the BBC under a cloud, after Jeremy Clarkson's contract was not renewed because of a physical and verbal attack on a show producer.
NPR

You Say Striped Bass, I Say Rockfish. What's In A Fish Name?

Legally, a single fish species can go by many names from sea to plate, and different fish can go by the same name. An environmental group says that hampers efforts to combat illegal fishing and fraud.
WAMU 88.5

A Congressional Attempt To Speed The Development Of Lifesaving Treatments

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a rare bi-partisan effort. The bill is meant to speed the development of lifesaving treatments, but critics warn it may also allow ineffective or even harmful drugs onto the market.

NPR

'Top Gear' Team Signs Deal With Amazon; New Car Show Set For 2016

The trio left the BBC under a cloud, after Jeremy Clarkson's contract was not renewed because of a physical and verbal attack on a show producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.