Monday, February 27, 2006

How Practical Is Equality?

By Judith

Here's one of those stories that drives me crazy. A group of parents and other liberal activists got together and forced the Minnesota State High School League to move the girls' state hockey tournament from Ridder Arena (on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where the Gophers womens' team plays) to the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, which is where the boys tournament will be played in a few weeks.

Now, Ridder Arena seats about 3,400, whereas the X holds maybe 18,000. And Ridder is perfectly adequate for the girls tournament, where last year's tournament drew a total of 13,548 for three days (with games being played in both the afternoon and evening). And while some of the girls were excited about playing on the same ice as the Wild, many were apprehensive about the whole thing. Equality is nice, one player said, "But the Xcel Energy Center is too big for a girls' tournament at this time. It will feel empty compared to Ridder."

Some who were in favor of the change even had the gaul to suggest that Ridder's small capacity was holding crowds down. Sure, I can imagine that, although somehow I missed the stories last year about 15,000 trying to cram their way inside Ridder to see the finals. (Sarcasm alert.)

Anyway, predictably this year's tournament was played in relative quiet. Even though the championship game drew a record crowd, the arena was still mostly empty. The Class 2A title game at the Xcel Energy Center before a crowd of 3,517, the largest in the 12-year history of the state tournament, which meant there were still about 14,500 empty seats. But never mind all the empty seats - they were playing on the same ice surface that the boys play on.

Chesterton wouldn't have been surprised by this, of course. He as much as predicted it nearly 100 years ago, in his What's Wrong With the World? After this, there's nothing more to be said on the topic. Although he might not have had high-school girls hockey in mind back then, who's to say? If the shoe fits...

There is not, there never has been, even the vestige of a new idea. All the educational reformers did was to ask what was being done to boys and then go and do it to girls, just as they asked what was beind taught to young squires and then taught it to young chimney-sweeps. What they call new ideas are very old ideas in the wrong place. Boys play football, why shouldn't girls play football; boys have school-colors, why should girls have school-colors; boys go in hundreds to day-schools, why shouldn't girls go in hundreds to day-schools; boys go to Oxford, why shouldn't girls go to Oxford - in short, boys grow mustaches, why shouldn't girls grow mustaches - that is about their notion of a new idea. There is no brain-work in the thing at all; no root query of what sex is, of whether it alters this or that, and why, any more than there is any imaginative grip of the humor and heart of the populace in the popular education. There is nothing but plodding, elaborate, elephantine imitations. And just as in the case of elementary teaching, the cases are of a cold and reckless inappropriateness. Even a savage could see that bodily things, at least, which are good for a man are very likely to be bad for a woman. Yet there is no boy's game, however brutal, which these mild lunatics have not promoted among girls.

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