Softball was invented in 1887 by men, though it came to be seen as an easier, “safer” and more modest game more suitable, that is, to ladies.
OVER the next three weeks, baseball players from around the country will compete in three regional tryouts for a chance to make it onto the United States baseball team. These are among the most elite, dedicated and talented athletes in their sport, and the best of them will go on to play against teams from Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Venezuela and Taiwan in the World Cup tournament held in September in Miyazaki, Japan.
Baseball evolved from the British game rounders, played by both girls and boys. Softball was invented in 1887 by men, though it came to be seen as an easier, “safer” and more modest game more suitable, that is, to ladies.
The conventional wisdom is that baseball is for boys and men, and softball is for girls and women. But women have been playing baseball since long before they had the right to vote. As the national pastime went professional, women were forced out of it and into softball.
Both men and women swim, ski, snowboard and run marathons and sprints. Both play tennis, soccer and basketball. Softball, though, is a completely distinct sport, with different pitching underhand — and different equipment, including a larger ball. It also has shorter distances from pitcher to home plate and between bases, fewer innings and a smaller outfield.
What if we just admitted that softball and baseball are not, in fact, “separate but equal” but entirely different sports? There is no rational basis to claim that girls can’t throw overhand, run 90 feet between bases or handle a hardball. And there is no reason but sexism to prevent them from doing so.
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