The idea of “throwing like a girl” has long been used as an easy athletic insult, effectively thrown around everywhere from our little league fields to our stadium tailgating parking lots.
(Olympia Sports did a nice commercial spot with this a couple of years back, featuring U.S. softball legend Jennie Finch.) (The wicked awesome Boston accents alone are worth the watch.)
But recently, “throwing like a girl” was the focus of a Health & Science feature for the Washington Post.
“There’s no way around it,” Tamar Haspel writes in her article “Throw Like A Girl? You Can Do Better.” “I throw like a girl.”
The article sites several studies where boys regularly throw a ball harder and farther than girls, postulating that there is a structural difference between boys and girls that allows boys to throw better.
“As much as the expression grates,” she continues, “girls do, in general, throw like girls.”
Well yes, the expression does indeed grate. And I’m not exactly sure what the point is of labeling someone’s throwing style as good (like a boy) versus bad (like a girl), when the most important part, regardless of said style, is accuaracy. (What fun is a game of catch if your thrower has Tom Brady-esque form yet never manages to hit you, his/her target?)
Needless to say, not everyone is convinced by the science sited in the article. The following week, the Washington Post ran a response to Haspel’s piece, penned (typed?) by Justine Siegal, a member of Northeastern University’s Sport In Society.
“As a former physical education teacher and current instructor for the International Baseball Federation, I have coached children from around the world,” Siegal writes. “I have found that throwing “like a girl” is not biologically inherent but rather a result of coaching, expectations and opportunity. Gender is not the dominating factor in their throwing mechanics; experience is.”
(I especially like her focus on expectations.)
“As a community, we must care enough about our girls to teach them how to throw properly,” continues Siegal. “Girls need the same instructional advantages that boys have in sport and need to be given similar opportunities to throw and play. By providing greater experiences, we can begin to reframe what “throwing like a girl” means.”
Do boys and girls throw differently, or are these simply gender stereotypes we have been conditioned to assume? What do you think?