Patricia Nell Warren, who writes a series for Outsports about gay-sports history and who contributes to this blog, is writing a two-part piece for Pat Griffin's "It Takes A Team" about her experiences and observations about the influence of sports on the perception of gender and sexuality. It's been a common theme in many of her pieces for us, and this is a nice summation of a lot of her thoughts on the subject.
The insight that most grabbed me is one I've heard her talk about before about the use of sports by some Christian activists in the 1800s, and one she discussed in the basketball installment of her series for Outsports. From her column:
Our country is still living with the dark legacy of the "muscular Christianity" movement that took over American sports in the late 1800s and still largely runs it today. This movement was/still is based on a belief that playing a rugged sport will automatically make a man masculine, moral and heterosexual. In other words, sports can allegedly change your sexual orientation! By the same token -- if sports automatically makes a person masculine, then obviously a woman who goes out for rugged sports will automatically become masculine as well, i.e., a lesbian.
Part one is up now and definitely worth a read. -Cyd Zeigler jr.