Last month I ran in the Tinley Park Turkey Trot 5K race and finished in 15th place overall, 13th among men. That’s not too bad for a dude in his 50s. While it may appear that I am gloating, stick with me here.
A few days ago on Twitter, legendary tennis great Martina Navratilova replied to a question on Twitter, “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
However, in that race if I put on a jog bra or just said, “Hey, I feel like a woman” and entered as a female I would have finished third among females.
While I don’t have any formal medical or physiological education, years of running and digesting fitness literature give me the knowledge base to build upon Navratilova’s Tweet, which of course she was compelled to delete after being attacked on Twitter by social justice warriors.
Men have several innate physical advantages over women in running long distances. Males with a penis. and more importantly, testicles, have more testosterone, which aids in building muscle mass. Men have larger hearts and larger lungs, which means oxygen gets absorbed and pumped faster. Oxygen to humans is what gasoline is to automobiles. Let’s just say that for the most part male distance runners train and compete with a six cylinder engine and women make do with a four cylinder one.
Let’s move on to bone structure. As men don’t bear children, women tend to have wider hips. And wider hips means women for the most part will overpronate, that is, run slightly pigeon-toed, which leads to more injuries, particularly knee ailments. Men of course, including this one, suffer from knee injuries too. I have not run a marathon since tearing knee cartilage in 2010.
Greater muscle mass, speaking generally again of course, also means fewer injuries for distance runners. Which means men can put more miles into a training regimen. Better conditioned athletes of course perform better.
Now let’s expand on my Tinley Park race. I have modest talents in running which I am grateful for–I told you that I was not gloating! But let’s say I am younger and a much better runner. And among elite athletes I finish in 15th place in a top-level race. In my next effort I compete as a female and I finish third–and collect prize money. Or I win it all and take home more cash. Would I be cheating? I believe so.
Meanwhile in cycling, Rachel McKinnon, who is transgendered, hopes to compete as a woman in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Muscle mass and lung capacity matter here too. McKinnon views testing for testosterone levels to determine if someone can compete in the Olympics as a woman as insensitive. Caitlyn Jenner, who as Bruce Jenner was the 1976 Olympics gold medalist in the decathlon, says “undoubtedly” a transgender Olympian will be a prominent athlete in the 2020 games.
Once the curiosity factor wears off, how many television viewers will care to watch transgendered athletes? Will networks still be willing to pay big bucks for broadcast rights fees if trans competitors take over women’s sports? Will the sponsorship pool cash evaporate? We are many years past the days when Olympics broadcasting can be dominated by male athletes. A sinking ship doesn’t discriminate.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.