Cool Things I Read, Vol. 6

Roller derby, racing, and high dives!

Pictured: a TBP reader printed out his favorite article to read on the go!

Happy holidays to all 7 of my loyal readers, and welcome back to another edition of Cool Things I’ve Read. Today’s articles are all about women and sport, at least peripherally. Sport, as we all know, can be a tool for liberation just as easily as it is a tool for oppression. On one hand, sport allows certain women to gain some agency over their bodies and their time. But it also can be just another system protecting traditional power structures. Here, we’ve got examples of both. (We’ve also got an unrelated sports doc at the end, that you should also watch).

How the Rugby Rape Trial Divided Ireland, The Guardian

Elite athletes who commit heinous crimes are regularly welcomed back to their day jobs with open arms. And while this article shows that to not be a specifically American phenomenon, it’s nothing shocking. What is shocking is the description of the situation for women in Northern Ireland. It is the only part of the United Kingdom or Ireland that has neither abortion rights or gay marriage, where reported rapes only lead to convictions 1.8% of the time. As the victim says in the article, “Rape is a game of power and control, and they rely on your silence.” She challenged that power and lost, but sparked a wave of activism across the country that has begun to rip out the misogyny embedded in Irish sport. [CW: rape, obviously.]

Lady Leadfoot, Epic Magazine/Sports Illustrated

This is the story of Denise McCluggage, a reporter who, with many sporting avenues closed off to her because of her gender, would find the weirdly women-friendly world of motor car racing. As author Amy Wallace writes, “Years before George Plimpton would be credited with inventing “stunt” journalism, attempting the sports about which he wrote, McCluggage was turning the things she loved to do into riveting prose.” This is the story of McCluggage’s fascinating life, told through her victory at Sebring in 1961.

The Wheel Thing, New York Times

Writer Hayley Krischer discusses the reemergence of roller skating “as part of a new feminist uniform.” With the sport in all its various forms gaining popularity among millennial women, more spaces are popping up for women to exist away from the male gaze. As the author discusses the boon this can be for the autonomy of women, writing, “When on skates, women are encouraged to use their bodies in ways that they have never been encouraged to do before, bucking patriarchal norms.”

Roller Derby vs. the NCAA, Slate

Another article on roller derby, but this one looking at it’s potential for growing into a more mainstream sport. A couple years ago, I wrote about how Ultimate frisbee was sacrificing some of what made it unique in a bid to gain legitimacy and standing in the wider world of sports. Here, Dr. Devoney Looser discusses how some corners of roller derby are doing the same. Traditionally in roller, athletes compete under tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms, and all leagues are athlete-owned — every leftist sports fan’s utopian dream. But both of these trademarks of the sport might soon be gone, if that’s what it takes to get more recognition for the sport.

Ten Meter Tower, Topic

As part of their Rites of Passage series, Topic put together a video of individuals getting ready to attempt something they’ve never done before: jump off a 10-meter diving platform.