Last week I watched some of the World Track and Field Championship that was held in Berlin. I wanted to see how fast Usain Bolt of Jamaica would run the 100 and 200 meters. He ran them in record time. It was interesting to watch the performances of the women. There is no way they could ever compete head-to-head with men. Bolt’s time new record time in the 100 meters was 9.58 seconds. The women’s world record in the 100 meters is 10.49 seconds, and that was in 1988. No one has come close in 21 years. Charlie Paddock ran 10.4 seconds for a world record time for the men in 1921 on a cinder track.
In most sports, with the exception of maybe pool, bowling, ice skating, and gymnastics, women cannot compete with men. Some would argue that even in some if these “gender neutral” sports women can’t compete with men. Since men can handle a heavier ball, a male bowler is going to have an advantage on pin action. While women look more graceful as skaters, men are stronger giving them an advantage on certain jumps. The next time you watch a gymnastics competition, notice that the women do not compete on the rings and pommel horse. These two pieces of apparatus require extraordinary upper-body strength, something that most women lack.
The disparity increases with sports like baseball, football, and basketball. Men are faster, quicker, stronger, heavier, and can jump higher than women of the same skill level. While a woman might have a batting technique as mechanically perfect as Barry Bonds, she will never hit a baseball as far. Also, she will never be able to get the bat around on a major league fastball with the consistency of a male player.
The disparity between men and women is most apparent in competitive weightlifting and track and field. Like boxing and wrestling, weightlifters are categorized for competition purposes by body weight. A lifter weighing 145 lbs will never compete against someone weighing 230 lbs. There is not a woman alive who could come close to competing with a man in weightlifting. In fact, the lightest men’s records beat the heaviest women’s records in both the snatch and clean and jerk. This means that a man weighing less than 123 lbs can lift more than a woman weighing 308 lbs.
Track and field is another measurement sport which easily notes the performance differences between men and women. The differences are so great that the hurdles are shorter and the throwing implements are lighter for women. Consider the shot put. While the world record for the men’s shot put is 75′ 10″, the women’s record is 74′ 3″. A first, this looks like performance parity. It’s not even close. The men’s shot weighs 16 lbs. The women’s shot weighs 8.8 lbs. A junior high boy throws an 8 lb shot. When he reaches high school, the weight is increased to 12 lbs. In college and Olympic competition, the shot weights 16 lbs for men. The weight of the woman’s shot goes up less than a pound after high school and remains at that weight through Olympic competition.
Consider the high school shot put records for boys and girls. The men’s record, set in 1979, is 81′ 3″. This is one record that may stay on the books forever, although with Nick Vena’s 72’ 3” throw as a sophomore, it could be broken. The second best throw is Brent Noon’s 76′ 2″. These were done with a 12 lb shot. The woman’s record, which is done with an 8 lb shot, is 54′ 9″. That’s 23 feet shorter than the boys and done with an implement that is 4 lbs lighter. You can view the performance differences between men and women in track and field at Track and Field News under “Records.”
So what does all this mean? Men and women are different. I know that you knew this, but it seems to go unnoticed by some social theorists. There are great women athletes when measured against other women athletes. Men will always outperform women in competitions where strength, speed, and size are deciding factors. There is nothing chauvinistic about making this claim.