Updated: Feb 13, 2021
You must have noticed- the 2020 Summer Olympics games were canceled and rescheduled. A victim to the pandemic, the games are now to be held starting July 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. There is a good chance the virus will still be at-large, so purchase your tickets with care. Arrive early or you’ll spend two weeks in quarantine and miss most of the track events, archery, and team artistic swimming.
The Olympic organizers are very excited this year. The official website is full of proclamations of how the 2020 Olympics, now the 2021 Olympics, will be the most gender-inclusive games ever- 49% of female athlete participation and a request that each of the 206 Olympic nations have both a male and female athlete carry the flag.
With the 2021 Olympics the most gender diverse games ever, at the bottom of the press release is this: Female representation on the IOC Executive Board stands at 33.3 percent… Evidently, the Olympic folks find it easier to gather up female athletes than female executives. But because gender equality appears to be nearly the most important thing, over 53 percent of Olympic Committee staffers are female.
For some athletes, the Olympics’ delay and the timing of an executive order titled Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, and signed within days of Mr. Biden becoming U.S. President, was perfect. The order gives athletes who wish to compete as a sex other than what they were born that right- anything less would be considered discriminatory, according to the President. An individual born as a male may compete in a female sport as a female. Yes, it can go the other way, but in competitive sports, it seldom does. That universally necessary hormone called testosterone plays a significant role in athletic performance. The question the sports world, including the Olympic Committee, wrestles with these days is how much.
Like fair, trusted elections in functioning democracies, games between athletes require rules and regulations which promote a level playing field for all. Else, the athletes will no longer compete, and the fans will no longer buy tickets or tune in. Who wants to see games amongst cheaters?
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
As is often our history, those who busy themselves looking for all the injustices in the world find one (which isn’t hard) and immediately, with little pause or consideration, go about demanding it be fixed. The consequences, often significant, are then justified away as ignorant bigotry. Often, an apparent fix to an injustice causes another injustice and those who dare point that out are shouted down, deleted, or worse. “My injustice is bigger than your injustice, so off with your Twitter account, you bigot!” said in true ‘warrior’ fashion. For those who have built a platform hoisting transgender rights as the most important cause of our day, the Presidential executive order was cause for celebration.
This ‘cheering’ should come as no surprise. Academia is turning out one impressionable young head after another with the notion that gender is simply a societal construction. Nothing biological about it. The coming together of egg and sperm has yielded an unfortunate anomaly that now must be protected. Those suffering from gender dysphoria believe they are nature’s mistake- the genitalia they were born with is not consistent with their identity. The complexity thickens with several subcategories, including those who identify as both sexes and wish to be considered ‘fluid.’
Naturally, most of us want all humans to be treated with dignity regardless of all the various ways to consider our existence. Mistreatment of those who struggle with who they are is insensitive, cruel, and not the least bit necessary. But to allow someone to simply say that he now identifies as a female and then be allowed to compete with females in competitive sports is a travesty- a serious injustice to women athletes throughout the world.
Ultimately, biology and societal constructs do collide. Beyond the significant difference in the genetic stew of men and women, we have different hormones coursing through our veins. Both male and female have estrogen and testosterone but at vastly different levels. For good reason- without estrogen, human reproduction would not be possible. Same for testosterone. Testosterone also contributes to muscle development and a host of other characteristics important to men. Its production tends to subside as men grow older as does their athletic performance. Estrogen can complicate the treatment of breast cancer in women. The consequences of messing with either hormone can have some severe consequences.
If one were inclined to cheat in a competitive sport, they would turn to the world of performance drugs. Once at the proper shelf, you would find anabolic steroids, androstenedione, testosterone creme, and a group of drugs, including Tamoxifen, a breast cancer treatment drug, which masks the usage and unwanted side effects of performance-enhancing drugs. Associated with these drugs are some of the best-known names in all of sports.
Many of these drugs were perfected in the former Soviet Union. During the 1980s, this communist country saw winning the Olympics so important to national pride and identity that to cheat was to be patriotic. Of course, the Soviet’s one-party political system didn’t much care for open and honest elections either, but they held them anyway. The national imperative was to appear as a country of gladiators- strong, superior, and dominating.
Those of us who lived the 80s remember well the detrimental effect each ‘dopping’ story had on the Olympics. World records are held in great suspicion. What had begun over 3000 years ago in Greece as a friendly, innocent engagement between rival provinces morphed into a drug-fueled ‘win at any price’ national identity project. A farce to sports and any fair-minded athlete who dreamed of simply becoming a great athlete.
As the Olympics desperately hangs on to relevancy, they must now contend with the latest fixation of creating equality — the boy who identifies as a girl who now wants to pole vault as a girl- or hurdle or play volleyball. According to the President’s executive order, he should be allowed to compete just by claiming he identifies as a girl. Anything less is to be considered discriminatory. There is no’ sorry’ in the executive order to the poor women everywhere who dedicated so much of their life to dare dream of competing in the Olympics.
Someday, perhaps, it is thought that one of the last great injustices left to fix is the unfair biological advantage men have with so much ‘performance-enhancing’ testosterone flowing through their veins. Some wacko congressperson will claim the divisions of Olympic track events of men and women events as discriminatory and introduce a bill to outlaw it. Better yet- another executive order for the President to sign.