July 26th, 2018
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
So why do men play in co-ed leagues at all, if they don’t want to play with women? This question was best crystallized for me recently by standup comedian Hannah Gadsby, who in her Netflix special Nanette calls out misogyny by posing a question: “If you hate what you desire, do you know what that is?” She then graciously answers her own question: “Fucking tense.”
Quinn quit playing after three seasons of playing in an “open gender” basketball league (where both genders can play, but there are no requirements for getting women into the game). Quinn and her co-captain Giobbi got sick of being on the only team in the league that consistently played women. “I didn’t like that the teams we were playing didn’t think that women would be a good addition to their team,” Quinn said.
They eventually complained to ZogSports about the lack of women in their “open gender” league. ZogSports’ response was to direct them to a women’s three-on-three half-court league, at which point they decided to stop playing with the league altogether.
“I’m not going to pay full price to play half-court basketball, when the other half of the court isn’t even being utilized,” Giobbi explains. “Nobody’s ever going to convince me that the numbers aren’t there because women don’t play these sports. It might be that women have already gotten to adulthood with so much trauma from playing sports with men that they don’t even look into it. Maybe that’s the reason. But it’s not that there are no women in New York who play basketball.”
I’m thinking about anger and where it goes. About how the world has told men that it will readily absorb their anger, whatever outlet they choose: catcalling a woman on the street; shooting up a school; screaming at a ref because if you don’t win this game you don’t know what you’ll do, because you hate your job; spouting hate speech at women on Twitter.
When I get angry I’m supposed to do a sheet mask and write in my gratitude journal.
ZogSports sells co-ed leagues as an escape. “Life is hard, we’re in dark times. Everything is doomsday,” Conochan told me. “But at literally the end of the day how nice is it to put on your sneakers and go outside to kick the ball around?”
And it does sound nice. I wish that it could be that easy. I wish that kicking a ball around was a relief, instead of filling me with a hot rage that sets fire to my stomach. Too many women are forced to accept that playing recreational sports wasn’t a release valve after all, it was just another source of frustration, it became the very thing we sought to remedy.
So, a preliminary answer to the question of where all the women go? Women don’t play co-ed intramural sports because it’s not fun for us. In fact, it sucks.
Melissa Fisch is still playing co-ed soccer in New York, despite the obvious drawbacks. “It’s sexist, but like, most things in this world are sexist.” That’s a depressing thought to me.
Co-ed social sports leagues aren’t really co-ed. They’re men’s leagues, where women are required to be present for the game to happen. I’m not surprised that women stop showing up. They’re too tired for this shit. It took a long time for me to admit that I, too, was tired. Because there is something incredibly gratifying about winning at a men’s game. I liked the feeling of surprising men with my skill, putting the ball in the net, and winning their respect. And men’s games aren’t just limited to social sports league. They’re the internet. The office banter. The boardroom. The whole world is a men’s league. If that doesn’t exhaust you, and you can manage to excel on men’s terms, you’ll be set, because impressing men by their own standards is the only thing that makes you valuable to them.