You Go, Girl!

Here’s to Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year old girl who has made history, not only by pitching a shutout to get her Philadelphia team into the Little League World Series, but even more impressively shutting out Tennessee in her first Little League World Series start.  As you can see here, she struck out the side in the 6th and final inning of the game against Tennessee.  She was throwing nothing but fastballs, and the Tennessee boys just couldn’t catch them, particularly when she threw them up in the zone on the strikeout pitches.  It was quite a performance.

I read a thoughtful article from Scott Cacciola of the New York Times today about Mo’ne’s future prospects. It’s hard to imagine she won’t be good enough to play on her high school team even if she doesn’t grow much more, and I doubt she’s going to get as much flack about playing with the boys as girls have gotten in the past.  In this day and age, one would hope she’ll be able to play with the boys as long as she’s got the talent to merit a roster space even if she bruises a few sensitive (and sexist) male egos along the way.

Clearly, there is a question about how much more she will grow.  However, there are plenty of big and tall women today, so there’s at least a chance she’ll continue to grow.

One point that Cacciola makes that I hadn’t thought about is that the relatively few teenage girls (at least as a percentage of the total number of participants) good enough to play boys’ varsity baseball often face pressure to switch to softball at some time during high school simply because they are much, much more likely to get a college scholarship playing women’s softball than men’s baseball.  For young athletes from all but the wealthiest families college scholarship money is a huge consideration.

While its kind of sad that there is this built-in disincentive for talented girls to continue with baseball, at the same time, if college athletic scholarships are based on merit, baseball scholarships will almost always be awarded to men, simply by virtue of the fact that elite male baseball prospects today are generally so big and strong by the age of 18 that few if any women can compete with them at the college level.

At any rate, I hope Mo’ne will keep playing baseball as long as she enjoys it, and she won’t face sexist barriers that some people might try to set up to take the game away from her until she decides on her own to do something else.

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