The following article from Ladies Against Feminism really made me start to question whether it is in the best interests of women, especially Christian women, to engage in competitive sports.
For most of human history, competitive sports has been a masculine activity - closely linked to the martial tradition of preparing for war.
In our era, sports have become something very different - dominating our culture. Churches are expected to adapt their schedules to accomodate sporting events. Universities have long since abandoned Latin, Greek, and rhetoric and many have become little more than a conduit for the football team (as well as other sports). High school sports have become a bastion of cut-throat competition, as college scholarships often hinge on performance.
Competitive sports, especially high school, college, and professional are really not about exercise and learning teamwork. They have become big business. They're not about fun and relaxation, but rather have to do with money, college admission, and career opportunity.
This is why feminists pushed so hard for Title IX. Women were being left out of the scholarship derby and the career ladder. And this is important because the secular culture wants women to get college educations so they can get jobs and be competitive in the marketplace. This isn't about women not getting enough exercise - but rather it's about getting scholarship money.
When in the history of Christianity did Christian women play competitive sports? My devout great grandmother never did. And yet, even without all the valuable lessons little girls supposedly learn through competitive sports, she was able to raise three children as a widow in the early 1900s while working full time. Neither of my grandmothers, nor my mother (nor any of her female relatives) took part in sports. And yet, they managed to raise their children and to work when they had to. Their lives as Christian women just don't seem diminished because they didn't suit up and shoot hoops. My wife never played sports (nor did any of her relatives), and I'm just not convinced she is less of a woman or person as a result.
In fact, Christian women did not play competitive sports for some 19 centuries.
But things began to change around World War II, as women began to work outside the home. By the 1980s, the push was on for more women in sports.
On the whole, has sports been a good thing for Christian women? Do women dress more or less modestly as a result? Are women more or less feminine as a result? Are women more or less submissive to their husbands as a result? How about the roles of women in the military - better or worse? How about the way in which men and women treat one another - has it gotten better or worse?
I see a lot of bad that comes from organized competitive sports (for both sexes) - and very little good. Ironically, most people are fatter today than in the "bad old days" when women were "oppressed" by not being jocks. You'd think that with all of this emphasis on sports, most people would be healthier. But this really isn't about health. rather, this is social experimentation. As a result, we see women pushing for combat roles in the military, advocating for unisex sports (even contact sports), and not striving for modesty and submission. A female soccer player whipping off her shirt at the end of a game in the olympics to reveal her sports bra has become iconic of an entire generation of female athletes.
I hadn't really considered the cultural impact of women in sports until reading the above article. The author simply made points that I couldn't refute. Of course, I'm in no position to tell anyone whether or not to play sports, but I'm certainly entitled to my opinion, and to enforce that opinion in my own home. I'm of the opinion that girls in organized competitive sports is a very difficult thing to reconcile with God's Word regarding the feminine vocation. I think it's a bad thing, even though it's pretty much unanimous among Christians and non-believers, feminists and conservatives alike, that women and girls ought to be involved in organized, competitive sports.
Personally, I think women ought to work out, do aerobics, lift weights, run, do pilates, yoga, and other sorts of healthy exercise. I'm all for that. It's just the competitive stuff that I think is overly masculine and not particularly helpful to encouraging girls to be ladylike. I do, however, believe women should get martial arts training - not the phony tournament and trophy "belt mill" variety with huge "studio" windows and ridiculous claims, but rather genuine and serious martial training in hand-to-hand self-defense that isn't all about trophies and competition. Women need to know how to take care of themselves and to react if they are attacked. But then again, this is self-defense training, not a "sport."
In terms of great examples of Christian womanhood, I'll take any of the women in my family (who never played baseball, volleyball, softball, wrestling, basketball, boxing, football, or hockey) over any sweaty jockette with her school name written on the buttocks of her short-shorts.
I think this is simply one more encroachment of the feminist culture into the Church, one more surrender we've made to the secular at the hands of the baby-boom generation. Isn't it sad that the younger generations of girls haven't a clue how to bake a loaf of bread, but they can probably tell you exactly how to squat down over home plate or how to throw a pick on the basketball court. We're so much more "enlightened" these days, aren't we?