Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Question of Gender on Individuals

800m World Champion Caster Semenya

The human body is something that is curiously researched upon everyday. The questions, the answers, and all the magnificent discoveries are what we today have defined to divide the human body into our two genders, male and female. Sure, there are things that make a person a male, and things that make a person a female, but do these definitions have to be justified at every possible spectacle?

What makes me want to write about this in constant frustration is when reading countless articles via YAHOO, MSN, and listening from the television is from the Track & Field World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Caster Semenya, an 18 year old South African won the 800m finals a couple of days ago was ordered by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) to undergo gender testing because to check if she was actually a woman. I mean, are you serious? The event was the “Women’s 800m”, why wouldn’t she be a woman?

Apparently, with her being 18 and winning the 800m by a good distance, they have also considered her physical features into question. So she got jacked really fast and she has a deep voice is putting question about whether or not she’s a man. Why can’t you investigate whether or not she’s on steroids? I mean, that’s pretty bad too, accusing her of cheating, which isn’t true, but it’s a whole lot better than being questioned about your sexuality. She’s been a girl her whole life. She might look like a boy, have a deep voice, and hang out with a majority of boys during her childhood, but that can’t make her a boy.

This sort of thing just aggravates me. I mean, sports always seem to get some of the craziest and absurd headlines sometimes. I mean, really, to question one’s own gender. Do they she suddenly forgot what gender she was and had to choose which event to enter? They want the gender test to see if she’s legally a female. Seriously!? All this speculation because of her appearance? It’s offensive and totally pointless. If she isn’t a legal woman, her gold medal gets stripped from her. I mean, what makes a woman a legal woman at a sporting event such as the World Championships? I’d love to see these kinds of definitions, because what they’re doing is ridiculous. I feel bad for her, really. It’s tough to see this happen exclusively in sports, making international headlines. If you’re a woman, you’re a woman. If you’re a man, you’re a man. Just leave it at that. No questions.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ice Baths - Refreshing Stimulator

Ah, ice baths. Aren’t they great? Or painful rather. They’re just one of those things that you love or hate after a hard painful workout at some point of the day. You’re sore, you can barely walk, so you’re going down in one of those ice baths to ease the pain away, while feeling ice cold. I love ice baths. Of course, the first time you take a dip in it, it feels as if you just took a one way trip to amputation. Okay, that’s a little exaggerated, but still, you’d wish you weren’t in there. I was interested in writing this after reading a note on Facebook by Jesse Faller. I was bored enough to stumble across it on Facebook and found a passage he said about ice baths. Here’s what he said,

“This one is for the ice-bath junkies. It’s when one stands in ice-cold water for about fifteen minutes. The brave ones go in over the waist. I don’t know the exact physiology but it goes something like this: when your extremities get cold, your body wants to protect the most important organs, so it cuts off the bold supply from the cold parts. While your foot is in 50 degree water, blood leaves the foot. Once the foot is taken out, “new”, fresh blood comes in which is full of oxygen and nourishments. That is why ice-baths are good after workouts – you replace the used blood in your muscles with new blood. Lots of athletes have discovered the value in ice-baths, even though it can be a test of your pain-tolerance and will power. They are great even if you aren't an athlete – it’s refreshing and good for your health, and helps build character.”

Of course, I don’t really understand the whole concept on how the ice bath works, but what Jesse said really seems to make a little bit of sense. The whole body cutting off blood supply from the cold parts, then new blood coming in after you take the cold part out. You kind of feel that too. When you take something out of an ice bath and you can feel the warm sensation coming back into your numb body parts. You seem to realize that after putting up with 10 minutes of ice-cold pain that it is surprising refreshing! You’ll finally be able to walk in a comfortable manner after surviving the workout of your Nazi coach.

So basically I’m ranting about how cool ice baths are, no matter how painful it feels. Give it a try, even if it hurts like hell. Suck it up. Because in Jesse’s words, “it’s refreshing and good for your health, and helps build character.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

“Captain” - A Title for An Unneeded Call for Action?

The term “captain” has been a subject of debate since I’ve started high school athletics. It all started with my Track & Field coach, Matthew Carr. His belief with the term “captain” was that it should never exist with sports teams. Being a captain means nothing. You just have this title. It’s something that goes with your name as you’re competing with your team. Sure, it does look good in a college application, but to the coach, someone doesn’t need to be named a captain to lead a team.

We’ll go back start how my whole perspective of this term really came about. I started my freshman year with Cross Country and Track & Field. Through those sports, I learned how to work extremely hard for self-improvement and personal achievement. As little freshmen who dream about things in the future, people would say they’d be awesome as captain or they’re going to be captain by their junior years. At that point, no one knew what leading a team really meant. All they wanted was that title. It was title that would make them seem big or to have some kind of power. That’s all they tried to work for.

As I moved on in my timeline, I met Matt Carr, who had a whole different view on the captain situation. As the beginning paragraph already introduced his whole story, he also refused to name captains for the sake of the sports booklet we had for the high school. It was simply because he doesn’t like the term “captain”. His whole story made me do a lot of thinking about captainship in sports teams. As miserable as Matt Carr was, his whole belief I thought actually fit all together.

The whole thing just kind of came into reality. Why do you need to be named a captain just to lead a team? I understand it’s the culture of athletics, but why can’t you just be a person who has the ability to lead the team without being handed the baton? To everyone out there who’s asking the same question to themselves, go out and be the leader. No matter what a coach or a teammate says to you, you always have the ability to lead a team. You don’t need the name “captain” or a captain pin or logo to help lead your team to success. You call yourself to action.