A monthly featuring of historical amateur sports from our area
High School Sports and the Female
from the 1979 Girls 3A and 2A High School Basketball Tournament program
A female athlete growing up in the 1960s; the challenge of athletic competition dimmed in the face of finding the results in the news­papers the following day.
"Here! Here!" I can recall my father shouting: looking up over the rim of his magnifying glass. "Isn't this story about it? Right Here!" "No, dad," I'd say, lifting the paper to my better eyeball. "That's next Thursday's weather prediction for Haymarket, VA."
          Some things are reluctant to change. It still takes a persistent hunter to find results of local girls' and women's competition in most of the Northwest's larger newspapers. Chris Evert's achievements may make a familiar headline, but Chris Smith's 13 strikeouts for the city softball championship most likely won't be known by anyone who wasn't at the game.
          Although coaches of women's teams seem to think they have an ally when they hear the pitch of my voice on the phone, I have to give them the same answers they'd hear from the baritones: "No one apparently wants to know about it because no one goes to the games."
          "Aha," they say. "But no one goes to the games because no one knows about it."
          "Oh, shut up," I cleverly retort for want of having a better answer. If it's any consolation, women's sports are not alone. As the majority of readers demand to know the length of Dennis Johnson's toenails and an increasing number of subscribers can't sleep without knowing who assisted on the Washington Capital's eighth goal, the results of all amateur and youth sports shrink in type size.
          What is encouraging is that the lack of media recognition apparently has not taken a major toll on the growth of women's sports. While I once prided myself in knowing both the other girl jocks in Seattle, now I'd use less breath running a mile than in reciting the list of local women involved in sports.
          Not only has the number of participants changed, but so has the psychological style.
          You could pick my peers out with a single glance. That girl with the basketball may not have looked like Tamara Press, but she sure felt like she did. I could never convince myself that I didn't have an anchor tattooed on my arm.
          I recently watched a pair of girls' high-school age soccer teams kick each other in the shins on a cold, Sunday afternoon. There was a satisfaction in watching the skills, of course, but something even more pleasing in seeing the mental toughness.
          A little blood, a little chill did not deter their aggressive attacks. They moved with a free-gaited confidence that made me wonder what could possibly stop them later in their pursuits as adults.
          So, someday, maybe a voice at all newspapers will answer the phone with: "Girls' Basketball? Oh, good, we've been waiting for your call. You say you turned away how many thousand spectators at the gate?"
            But it's going to be awhile — maybe a long, long while or maybe never.
          In the meantime, the satisfaction from sports — for almost all high school girls, and for boys in all sports but Basketball and Football — will have to come from self-recognition.
            For those who can't wait, my dad can give a good buy on a well-used magnifying glass.