Women’s Sports Comparisons
An otherwise very good piece by CSM’s Christa Case Bryant detailing Lindsey Vonn’s impressive third straight World Cup victory drifts into one of my pet peeves:
This is Vonn’s third straight overall title, a feat unmatched since Austria’s Petra Kronberger won her trio from 1990-92. Vonn’s 11 World Cup wins this season make her second only to Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell, who won 14 in 1988-89 and 62 in her career. While Vonn is only at 33 so far, that’s a new US record, beating out five-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H.
Vonn is a terrific skier and her accomplishments deserve celebrating. But her career is in no way comparable to that of Bode Miller or any other male skier. As a wise man once said on an only tangentially related matter, they’re not in the same league — they’re not even the same sport.
We have no way of knowing, save conjecture, how Vonn would do in competition against men. But, presumably, there’s a reason that downhill skiing is, like most other sports, gender segregated.
The same is true of coaching. For example, Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit’s career has been quite impressive. But taking it to the next step — comparing it to John Wooden’s or Bob Knight’s or Dean Smith’s — is silly. Summit may or may not have been wildly successful coaching the men’s game. But she hasn’t done it. And the women’s game, where two schools have dominated since time immemorial, simply isn’t comparable to the men’s game.