Winterguard: Sport or Hobby?

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The “is it a sport or not?” debate vis a vis everything from women’s skiing to cheerleading has been ongoing for some time now … and there’s pretty much universal support for the fact that it is, at least when you’re considering teams that compete, not just shake pom poms around at a football game or something.

Which leads me to winterguard, a primarily female activity that’s become increasingly popular both in American high schools and at a competitive level.

When my daughter announced to me last year that, as a high school junior, she wanted to join her school’s winterguard team, I was pretty flummoxed.  For one thing, I had only the haziest idea of what winterguard was … namely, girls dressed in odd-looking costumes waving flags around.

I soon learned that it was more than that.  Much more.

For one thing, it entailed three hour practices two nights a week, daylong practices on weekends, and eventually competitions every weekend.  Oh, and countless hours spent in the backyard practicing flag tosses.

The end result of all that practice, the concussions and chipped teeth and bumps and bruises collected by this team, looked something like this.

I was blown away every time I watched that show, and on a personal level, watching my daughter, who has a tendency not to try something if she’s not going to quickly and easily excel at it, blossom into a confident performer through an activity that was incredibly challenging both physically and emotionally was powerful beyond words.

She also dropped something like twenty pounds over the course of last year’s season, and she wasn’t a big girl to start with. The physical demands of winterguard left her not just bruised and battered, but buff as well.

But does that make it a sport?

Well, what exactly constitutes the word “sport”?  According to an English teacher I know who specializes in …

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Are Current Tennis Match Regulations Sexist?

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In an article in Canada’s National Post, sports writer Joe O’Connor presents the following conundrum:

Women play 60 minutes in hockey, 90 in soccer and run 26.2 miles marathons, just like men do. And yet in tennis, in 2011, in an era where the gender wars are supposed to be over, on Sunday two women will meet in this year’s U.S. Open final and play best-of-three-sets — while the men will play best-of-five the following day.

Apparently women used to play best-of-five matches, but, according to 1973 champ Billie Jean King:

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There Is Nothing Funny About Ladies Cussing

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This past week, Cameron Diaz’s small-budget comedy Bad Teacher premiered, and the critics aren’t amused. Most agree that you’ve probably seen Bad Teacher before. And while it was funny when it was Billy-Bob Thornton as a hard-drinking, wise-cracking mall Santa or Walter Mathau as a hard-drinking, wise-cracking girl’s little league coach or Tom Hanks as a hard-drinking, wise-cracking women’s baseball league coach or Jack  Black as a hard-drinking, wise-cracking substitute teacher, there’s just something, well, different about how Cameron Diaz comes off in the same hard-drinking, wise-cracking part. But whatever could it be?

Sure, you can argue that maybe Diaz just doesn’t have the comedic abilities of the other actors above (frankly, I didn’t find School of Rock that funny, even though I tend to like Jack Black, and I haven’t seen Bad Santa), but it seems like, for the most part, people are just uncomfortable with an openly “loose,” foul-mouthed, hard-drinking woman in the way that a male character can be a loveable roustabout.

If you’re not convinced that the division between Diaz’s Bad Teacher and every other movie about hilariously inept male childcare providers likely comes down to …

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Female Badminton Players Ordered to Wear Skirts to Drum Up Interest In The Sport

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One would hope that the oppressive guidelines of dress codes would never go beyond the plaid skirts of catholic school girls, but unfortunately, dress codes follow one into the adult world. While common-sense-upholding guidelines on acceptable attire for a given occasion are definitely a good thing, some more detailed rules can send one right back to gender role stereotypes.

The Badminton World Federation has decided to use these gender stereotypes as a way of increasing interest in female badminton players. With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, badminton officials came to the conclusion that ordering female players to play in …

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