[Today’s run: 7 miles on S. Grandview]
I remember a conversation, probably 25 years ago, on the Dead Runners Society mailing list about race handicapping. Not in the sense of betting, but kind of like in golf.
Modern road races will have a medal for the top three finishers in each classification. Usually a race will be broken down by age, normally in 5 year intervals but sometimes something different, and by sex. I have come in as high as first man in my age group in a smaller 5k.
Of course I was no where near the front and didn’t “win” the race.
So that discussion long ago was about this handicapping system. The fast men would be happy to point out that if you don’t win the race you didn’t win the race. So handicapping and age/sex race groupings aren’t strictly about who is the fastest human being in the race on that day. They are a means of spreading the joy of winning more widely.
I’ve been keeping a casual watch on the whole who-is-a-woman thing for the upcoming olympics. I gather that the definition is based on the amount of testosterone in the blood over some period of months leading up to the event. If you are under that bar you can run in the race that is limited to “women”. If you are over that bar then you may be eligible for the “men’s” race, which maybe should be called the Open Class or some other all-comers term.
The Olympics doesn’t have age group handicapping.
Everyone in the Olympics is an unusual person, either in physical qualities or in their dedication to hard work, probably both.
And we have people so driven to excel in sports that they will take self-harming drugs to improve their performance. Frankly, I’m not sure that is so different from the people who will take testosterone reducers so that they qualify for the “women” classification. I’m not sure what the situation is on doping upwards on testosterone. I kind of assume that is a doping violation but I’d have to go look it up.
And we have some similar happenings at the high school level. The girls tried to sue because there were a couple of ringers in the races that won state championships.
The hilarious part is that for the high school case we have “experts” coming forward and saying that there really isn’t any difference in performance between naturally developing men and naturally developing women, so that having a guy wear a name tag that says “Hello my name is Girl” run with the females in high school, somehow that doesn’t matter. But at the Olympics having extra T will get you thrown out of Girlness.
Either it does matter or it doesn’t matter.
If it doesn’t matter then that’s the end of handcapping by sex. Why do it if it doesn’t matter? All of those women’s teams in high schools and colleges should be wrapped up into the men’s teams and run try-outs and take the top performers and be done with it.
O but wait, we have federal throw-you-in-jail laws about having women’s teams get equal support as men’s teams. Oops. Now what?