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Some things recently reminded me of past conversations about the difference between Men’s, Women’s, and Co-ed Ultimate. There’s a perceptible difference in playing all of them, though I have to admit I have never played Men’s 😉  Leaving co-ed out of the question for now, what’s the difference between Men’s and Women’s? From what I’ve heard and seen, men’s games go much faster, and they have less turnovers. When in college, I talked to some teammates and coaches about why in high levels of women’s Ultimate there are more turnovers on average. Part of it is that there is a smaller pool of women who play in general, but the point was brought up than and at other times in my Ultimate career that women just tend to catch less (aka you need to throw much more accurately to ensure that a woman will catch it). Which may tie into the fact that from my experiences, the handlers on women’s teams tend to be the more experienced players, while on men’s teams, you might find the most experienced players cutting. One of my female friends said that men tend to pick up throwing much faster than women, which might explain the distributional differences of the experienced players on the field.

These thoughts bother me. I don’t have a problem with the idea that men and women are built differently, but I don’t think there is a good way to frame these conversations. At the same time I’m intrigued by the differences and would like to know explanations for what’s going on. I was talking to a guy about the situation last night, and his answer to why men pick up throwing faster was that from the age of 5 on his usual after school activity and that of any little boy was to “Come home and play basketball [or some other sport] for three hours”, which would develope hand-eye coordination significantly which would thus translate into picking up throwing quickly. I got annoyed. I don’t want to say that guys don’t on average play ball related sports more than women, but its the idea that 1) his experiences are that of every boy 2) his statement implicitly implies that girls don’t spend time doing things when they are young that would improve their hand-eye coordination which might make picking up throwing easier 3) while playing sports a lot makes coming into Ultimate a lot easier, the motion of throwing a frisbee is different than throwing a ball. If we assume that fundamental body differences are significantly impacted by what you used to do after school, what do little girls do differently than little boys? I think on the average day when I was young (under 10) I would likely be reading to put off doing homework, not playing and running around. But I actually picked up throwing way faster than a lot of women on my college team. So how do my experiences tie in to the general trend of women not picking up throwing? And I knew women who were pretty sporty who still took a significant amount of time until they could throw confidently.

The feelings and thoughts I am left with at this point is 1) I am mad at society for not encouraging girls to play more sports 2) I am annoyed that some explanations for gender differences are glorified stereotypes which might not be true and over-simplify the situation 3) I don’t feel like I have satisfactory answers 4) though this question intrigues me, I get too angry and frustrated at the way people frame their answers to talk about it often, so I may never fully answer the question.

And finally, one of the things that sparked these thoughts in college was the question of what would happen if three elite men played seven elite women (who would win). A shitty situation for all parties involved, I recommend never doing it. The appropriate answer is who ever received first, because the teams would both be able to use the advantages presented by the field structure to get goals (Men would take advantage of a deep field, women would take advantage of the ability to work it up the field because of the lack of defenders).

4 hour later addendum: I realize that part of what made me annoyed about my friend’s comment was that it didn’t take into account all aspects of the situation. I know that statements in general can’t always take the whole picture into account, so getting frustrated is pointless. So now I am annoyed that I got annoyed–perfect example of why I don’t talk about this kind of thing often. C’est la vie!

Categories: Ultimate
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