Years ago, a boy in New York tried out for and made the girls' high school field hockey team, which state regulations allowed him to do because there was no boys' field hockey team. New York reporter Melissa Hebert summed it up precisely when she wrote, "With girls going out for boys' teams, the question is, is she good enough? When a boy goes out for a girls' team, the question often is, is he bad enough?"
One female commentator cheered on Sorenstam and called golf a "non-gender sport." If, by that, she means both sexes play the game, sure. If, however, she suggests that most professionals possess equal skills or hit the ball just as far, she fails to properly credit Annika with abilities far beyond those of most professional female golfers.
As mentioned earlier, Annika called the Colonial a one-time event, and that she did not anticipate entering into any other male events. The Colonial, say experienced golfers, while 700 yards longer than the typical LPGA setup, remains one of the shorter men's courses with only two par fives, and thus the Colonial is one where women might likely compete more effectively. Other courses, with higher pars, likely serve more problematic for female golfers, however talented.
Still, Sorenstam beat 11 other men, and displayed poise, class and a sense of humor. Hey, if a female pitcher for the New York Yankees can throw a 95-mile-an-hour fastball, imagine the attendance.
Where is Martha Burk, the woman who banged the gates to let women into Augusta? Where is the National Organization for Women (NOW), one of whose chapter presidents disagreed with charging Scott Peterson for double homicide in the murder of his wife, Laci, and unborn son, Conner?
As a step forward for, call it, female achievement and accomplishment -- especially without the supportive agitation of some civil rights group -- this seems far more historically significant. Most male golfers offered support, and, in fact, pulled for her and cheered her on. Television ratings soared, and the event drew 400 reporters, nearly four times the customary number. Meanwhile, Burk's anti-Masters protest drew about 50 attendees, many members of the press.
Somehow, someway, Sorenstam pulled this off without NOW's Kim Gandy or the National Council of Women's Organizations' Burk. Say it ain't so.
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