Before Title IX

My son and I are lazing around, watching the Olympics, dreaming of glory days.

The Olympics got me thinking. How do I compare with most women my age in terms of fitness? Could I take them? I would have to say, honestly, that I can bike, play tennis, swim and dance slightly better than most women my age. A contest that involves running, softball or bowling? Not so much.

But why do I have to compare? I usually blame my three brothers for making me so competitive. And I blame society for not offering me more girls’ team sport opportunities. I came of age just when Title IX was introduced. The requirements had not yet trickled down to suburban Chicago. So I didn’t get to benefit. This is Title IX’s 40th anniversary. So YAY! Lucky for my girls. Unlucky for me.

Still, sports were essential. I played in a Saturday night high school volleyball league at Mary Seat of Wisdom church and I loved it. I loved volleyball again years later when I was in the cast of The King & I at the Depot Theatre (the alpha and the omega of my summerstock career!). We had games right before the matinee. I loved the sting on my wrists when I landed a bump. I think that is the technical term — a bump!

I loved the camaraderie of sports and the room for showboating (Hello, Usain Bolt!)

In high school we had gym every day. I was chosen to be the demo girl when we had gymnastics. I was proud. But then, in front of everyone, on the unevens, I could not kick myself up from the low bar to the high bar. The very next day, Ms. Sellers picked another girl to demo. That stung. Worse than a sore wrist from volleyball.

While I do not have to be the best, I prefer it. And I prefer that no one see me as I slip from my pinnacle — an inevitable decline from my Numero Uno standing in my own mind. (I’m not sure, but it is possible, that this post is about the downside of aging.)

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