Our girls did not win the championship yesterday– they lost 23-10 to another team of also beautiful young girls who also, like our girls, played beautifully and who shone through as wonderful, strong, deserving, fine young girls– young female athletes trying hard and playing hard. At the end, for our girls and some of their mothers, there were many tears, which was touching to watch. I have been so proud of my partner and the kind of generosity of heart and love and hope and wanting- the-best that she brings to each girl and to the parents of the girls. I myself had a big private cry at home later, not because our team lost, but because of other things; the viciousness of competition and sexism, the sports I never got to consider playing because I was not someone who was encouraged to be an athlete, the many doors that close so brutally and often so quietly, as though nothing of significance is happening, for young people even at age 8, 9, and 10 because of race, class, gender.
I will hopefully find the time to write a longer post later. Even before we lost this final game, I have thought about the girls going home who lost to our team. This season of play– watching my partner and the girls on our team and the girls on the teams we have played, watching my daughter watching all of that– has made me think long and hard about a number of things. I wrote the piece called, Girls Undefeated, because, that is what I want for every young person– girls and boys alike– to grow up feeling undefeated on the inside of them. There are things to write and wonder about competition– and things I hope some of you will write and ask and think through about competition.
What is it good for and what would it mean to have a world where people did get to play hard, try hard, try out many different things, but where we weren’t organized around determining who is better and who is worse (this is at the heart of racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, and all the rest, is it not?) There are things to write and say about Title IX and what else it will take to make things right for young girls and young boys who are black or white or immigrants or Latina.
And I didn’t forget on Monday, March 8, but I ran out of time to say– Happy International Women’s Day– a day that is still a touchstone for me and was very much on my mind as I watched all of the girls– from our school and our opponent’s school, play basketball on Monday and yesterday.