Hypocritical Headache

This month, I'm going to do something really, really stupid. [Editor's note: We didn't gasp in disbelief, either.]

I'm going to write about some of the differences between men's and women's sports, or at least what I think those differences are. Furthermore, I'm going to tell you why they are different. I'd like to/have to start off by saying that the editors, publishers, and owners of GOLF MAGAZINE (most of whom are idiots) do not always share the views represented in this column. Hey, to each his or her own. But they're still idiots.

I'm going to blow off one toe at a time here, so let's start off on a sport with which I am fairly familiar: golf. Generally speaking, women are not as good at golf as men, but, for the record, making a golf swing is harder to do if you happen to be the owner of a pair of breasts. (I'm anticipating the heckling to start right about here, so here's my reply to the first burst of outrage).

On the contrary, ma'am, I do know what I'm talking about, because over the course of my 20-year playing career, my weight yo-yoed between 155 and 220 pounds, and at the tubby end, I had quite an impressive cleavage. All I can tell you is that my pair definitely got in the way of my backswing. And yes, they were real, not that it's any of your business. If I'd had them enhanced, I might never have left my hotel room.

Also, it would seem to me, that most of the world's top female golfers are closer to "A" than "D" when it comes to the other cup size. It might be a coincidence, but I suspect not. They don't help.

Of course, it's very unfair and downright idiotic to compare the women of the LPGA to the men of the PGA Tour in the first place. One of the great misconceptions in golf is the notion that a woman's short game should be as good as that of her male counterparts. Physical strength off the tee and out of the fairway is an obvious advantage for the men. But out of rough and heavy sand around the green, men have an even bigger edge.

In order to play a lot of the high flops and spinning sand shots we see these days, a player has to be able to rip the clubhead through heavy sand or long grass, without allowing it to turn over. Most women simply don't have the strength to do it. They play a different game, that's all.

At this point I should probably share with you that I have been suffering from a chronic and seemingly incurable form of male chauvinistic swinery, which manifests itself most clearly in my sports television viewing preference. In short, the only female athletes in whom I have any interest are the scantily clad, good-looking ones. But at the risk of appearing in the crosshairs of a weapon wielded by Gloria Steinem or one of her followers, I would respectfully suggest that this doesn't make me a bad person.

Every living creature on the planet is driven by two basic, primal urges -- the need to eat and the need to mate. If we lose one of them, we're extinct. While such a result would undoubtedly be the best possible outcome for every other creature on the planet, they're going to have to wait a while yet, because we, the morons at the top of the food chain, aren't done eating and mating yet.

Actually, when I pause to think about it, mating was probably the first contact sport. I mean there's no question about the competitive nature of it, is there? Oh dear, now I'm thinking about it. I'm flying over Yellowstone as I write, so let's take the elk as an example.

The males who eat the most become the biggest and have a decided advantage in the rut, when they butt heads with the others. The rut is the tournament in which the first prize is the best females, who show no interest whatsoever until a clear winner emerges, at which point they become even less interested. This seems familiar.

So far, the only obvious difference I can see between elkind and mankind is that once the elk are finally ready to mate, it's the male who has the headache.

In fairness to my sports-watching brethren, I think that underneath it all, most female sports fans are kind of the same as we are. When it comes to men's sports they are interested primarily in the ones where the guys are kind of hunky and wear skin-tight uniforms. When Jason Sehorn leaps into the air and pulls down that pesky inflatable bladder, I think, "Wow, what a catch!"

Meanwhile, the ladies are thinking not only, "Wow, what a catch!", but "What a set of buns!" as well. My friend Donna Caponi, who is an LPGA Hall of Famer, has confirmed this for me. Donna is a keen sports fan and a self-confessed bun-lover.

Women like boxing (almost naked guys), track and field (muscles, spandex, and the ubiquitous slow motion bouncing package -- don't tell me you don't love it, you lying vixens), and any other sport in which guys pose, check, strut, or thrust. Good for the ladies, I say!

As for me, and every other red-blooded male I know, we like women's figure skating, beach volleyball, track and field, and gymnastics, although the balance beam totally weirds me out. I can't watch those girls cartwheel into the straddle without having a full body spasm and an involuntary attack of yodeling.

Oh, oh, oh, and I love women's tennis! Yes, Anna Kournikova may never have won a damn thing, but I'd like to go on the record as saying I don't care, and I'd rather watch her losing in slow motion than any man winning at regular speed.

Women's soccer is completely unwatchable (but, then, so is men's soccer), as is the WNBA (and the NBA), and for me, women in auto racing are rather like women in the priesthood, in that gender doesn't matter at all because I'm not paying any attention.

I have to admit though, I was a whole lot more comfortable with my cynical male attitude to women's sport when I was just the father of four boys. Then came a bombshell in the shape of my daughter, Erin, otherwise known as "The Small Person Who Must Be Obeyed."

Erin was four in June and will start school in the fall. I don't know what it's like in other cities, but here in Dallas, a lot of private schools have a bad attitude. Or maybe it's me, but I figure that a school that accepts only the brightest of children has no right to brag about its academic results. You see, even though I wasn't an honor student, I think I can figure out if the kids were smart when they went in, then they should still be smart when they come out.

Show me a school that takes the slower kids and turns them around, and I'll be impressed. Recently, I did the parent interview thing at one of these private institutions, so that they could determine if my daughter was "the right fit." Right fit, my arse, pal.

It was a disaster, and She Who Must Be Obeyed has now barred me from any future altercations with prospective future school principals. I went with the attitude of, "Is your school good enough for my child?" rather than the other way around, and apparently it wasn't the way to go. The funny thing was, I found myself laying down all these criteria that I felt a school should have to meet if it was going to be lucky enough to get my girl, one of which was no cheerleading.

I want my baby on the field competing, not on the sidelines jumping up and down and cheering for a bunch of sweaty, zit-ridden boys. I want her to have as good a chance to be an athlete as the boys, and then I'll be the one on the sidelines, thank you. Then, I remembered, I'm only interested in the sports where the women are scantily clad and beautiful.

Like cheerleading. Damn!

But she's my daughter, and...well, you know....

Oh, God, I think I'm getting a hypocritical headache. Stick a fork in me, because just the other day in our upstairs play room, Erin grabbed a plastic golf club left hand below right (as most kids will), and made a perfect golf swing. I about dunged myself.

None of my kids has shown the slightest interest in any sport, never mind golf. "Where did you learn that?" I asked her. She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "On the television, Daddy."

So maybe that's where all those women's sports fans come from! Because this daddy will tell you this: If his girl turns out to be a golfer, he'll watch every swing she makes. I'll be the grumpy old fart in the crowd, poking young people out of the way with a furled brolly so I can get a better view. "Get out of my ass you wayholes, that's my baby!"

Don't get me wrong, I love my boys, but my baby girl rules my world, and it makes me wonder why the women aren't playing for more money on the LPGA Tour. I'm in television, so I know all about some of the reasons, like ratings, advertising revenue, image problems, etc. But don't the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies have daughters too?

And don't they look at them the way I look at mine? I was on a plane the other day, not really listening to the captain's welcome on the PA, when the moron next to me removed his snout from the Wall Street Journal and said moodily, "Oh, great, the pilot's a chick."

I told him I always felt a little safer when a woman was at the controls, because in order to get the job, she probably had to be a damn sight better than the men. It's tough for women to get through that glass ceiling, and if they do, they have to work with men looking up their skirts. Needless to say, the guy beside me didn't have a daughter.

I was tucking Erin into bed the other night, and as usual she was playing me like a three-dollar violin. "One more kiss, Daddy," then, as I was heading out the door, "One more love, Daddy." I went back to the bed and lay down facing her with my head on her pillow, and pulled a long, brown ringlet of hair out of her eyes. It was dim, but I could see the ear-splitting grin on the naughty face as she reached with a damp, chubby, little hand and grasped my ear.

"Your ears are freezin,' Daddy," she said, as I gently scratched her back. I asked her, "Are you gonna be a golfer when you grow up, baby?"

"Girls can do anything, Daddy," she said, curling up in a giggling ball, waiting for the tickle. "Girls are tricky."

"Oh, yeah, girls can," I tell her, "especially the tricky ones like you," and she explodes into a writhing, squealing, little piglet when the tickling begins. We both end up in tears, hers of laughter, and mine of unsurpassable joy and indescribable love, mixed with an aching sadness, for I know she is only on loan to me, and I wish this moment would never end.

When she's old enough, I'll tell her about a bumper sticker I saw once before she was born. At the time it meant nothing to me, but because of her, I get it now. It read: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards, in five-inch heels."

Annika Sorenstam reminds me of Ginger Rogers, because if she were a man, she might be famous.

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