American Football

American football has become a popular sport in the United States. Its origins come from soccer. Soccer is called football internationally, which tends to confuse American sports fans. American football oddly enough began in the 19th century in Great Britain. There their is a game known as rugby, which would later become American football. A soccer player in Great Britain at a school in Rugby picked up a soccer ball with their hands. This is prohibited by the rules of soccer and from that one rule violation came a new game. The game of rugby reached the United States in 1871. This game from the British transformed into football. Now it is an American tradition being played in universities, public schools, and in professional sports leagues. This sport at first glance appears to be completely male dominated. However, there are women and organizations who are getting involved. While women’s football teams do not get exposure as the mainstream NFL league teams, it is a great development for the sport. Women are also becoming football fans in large numbers. This development has been happening for the past two decades. Despite domestic abuse cases, paid patriotism, and racism in league circles there are still loyal fans. These issues can be addressed with reform  in sports organizations.

       The history of  women in American football starts in 1974.  The Women’s Football League was formed with seven teams formed. The pay was low with players only getting $25 a game. Despite this, teams formed and came to play.  These teams included the Los Angeles Dandelions, Dallas Bluebonnets, Detroit Demons, Columbus Pacesetters, Fort Worth Shamrocks, and the California Mustangs. Since the 1970s the number of women playing tackle football has increased. The unfortunate reality is that there are not established professional leagues. Women’s amateur leagues have been growing in number over the past two decades. There are about 4,000 women who play tackle football in the United States. Local leagues can be expensive to join, but that does not stop dedicated players. Women come not for the financial rewards, because there no opportunities like in the National Football League.

   There still remains a cultural bias that football is a man only game. The game continues to be male dominated, however women began organizing to play a sport they also enjoy. As the years progressed women became part of high school and college football teams. Although small in number this was a testament to breaking barriers. Kathy Klope was a place kicker for the University of Louisville in the 1990s. At the time she was the only woman to play on a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I-A football team. Title IX stipulates that girls and women should be allowed to try out and play on boys  and men’s teams if there is not a division for girls. This would be sex discrimination and so girls were given opportunities to play on boys teams.

 A  news clip showing a girl in Junior high  playing on a football team 

This change did not come until the 1980s to 1990s.  The Beth Balsey case in New Jersey ruled that she had a right to play on her high school football team. The judge ruled in her favor in 1986. By 1994 it was reported that a total 328 girls were playing on US high school teams according to the National Federation  of the State High School Athletic Associations. The girls who have the athletic talent do not have professional leagues to go to as adults, so they may switch to another sport. The thousands of women now take part in amateur  leagues. There is a possibility as time progresses professional leagues will be more prevalent. There is the challenge of exposure and the decline in viewership of American football. The loss of viewers could be attributed to bad publicity surrounding domestic abuse and CTE  injuries. It could be that being more inclusive with women can repair the damage from such negative incidents.

It will take some years before women’s teams emerge to a level in which they are viewed as widely as the NFL games. There is progress. The Independent Women’s Football League was established in 2000 with a mission to “making the sport available to all women and girls who dream of playing the game. ” This non=profit organization helps with funding teams and organization. The IWFL wants to also “foster an environment of goodwill and sportsmanship.” The IWFL has been a helpful avenue for rising women football players attempting to play at elite levels.

      American football just like any other sport has rules. The teams consist of a total of eleven players, which can be alternated. Each team has the responsibility of starting a play on their side of the ball. Players can either be defensive or offensive in terms of position. The offensive players must be lined up in scrimmage. They are seven offensives, but the four of these must be lined up one yard behind the line scrimmage. One to four backs can move parallel to the line of scrimmage. The team that maintains the ball will be called the offense. The defense has the task of preventing the offense from scoring. The offense then has the task of advancing the ball 10 yards every four plays. If they are successful they will achieve a first down. The objective is to score and make touchdowns. The offensive team can lose possession of the football by fumbling (or dropping the ball), missing the field goal, getting tackled in the end zone for safety, kicking the ball to the defensive team, scoring, not getting 10 yards in four downs, and throwing the football to a defensive player for an interception.

02-NFL-lede-01.w710.h473  If players violate rules, they face penalties. Yards can be lost depending if the violation was by the defense or offense. Personal fouls can result up to 15 yards, while a majority are between 5 to 10 yards. There are numerous violations that can happen in a football game. The false start is when the offense moves prior to the snap. The snap is the moment in which movement is permitted. Offside violations happen when the offense or defense is on the wrong side of the scrimmage line at the time of the snap. A defensive player cannot make contact with an offensive player, because this would be encroachment. Holding another type of  violation is when a player grabs another without the ball. It is also illegal to grab a player’s facemask. Kickers  and passers are not allowed to be run into after the ball has been kicked.

Generic-football
The football field is about 120 yards long and 53 yards wide.  There are 100 yards apart goal lines. The field also has 10 yards of area in front and back called the end zone.

Intentional grounding happens when a passer throws the ball away from a receiver to avoid possible sacking. Other cases such as ineligible receiver downfield occurs when an offensive player is not eligible receiver and happens to be five yards downfield  from the line scrimmage during a forward pass. These are some of the common football infractions that can occur during a game. There are more possible penalties and violations, but these are the basic ones. The point of these rules is to maintain player safety and have fair competition. The referee must be extra vigilant to make sure all rules are enforced. Football has become a major element in US culture. Americans spend millions in total on products  and memorabilia of their favorite football teams. A common Thanksgiving tradition is to watch football and play some with family as well as friends. The sport has become part of American identity and a cultural icon.

References

   Iwflsports.com: History. N.p., 6 June 2000. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.iwflsports.com/theiwfl/history/&gt;.

Sherrow, Victoria. “Football.” Encyclopedia of Women and Sports. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1996. 104-05.

Garcia, Ahzia. “Inside the World of Women’s Tackle Football.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/02/news/womens-tackle-football/&gt;.

American Football

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Beauty and What It Means

This is a blog written by Autumn Whitefield Madrano that seeks to understand the concept of beauty and what it means in a cultural context. She seeks to in her own words engage with these questions of beauty and how to an extent it dictates the lives of women. She seems to be influenced by  The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. That book has some analytical flaws and half truths. It would be too simple to dismiss this site as another third wave feminist promotion, but there is a difference. She interviews women from all walks of life and various professions. Comedians, sex workers, and in this case female bodybuilders. Colette Nelson was interviewed for the blog in 2011. What is special about this is that blog’s that tend to be third wave feminist ignore the muscular woman or athlete. Compared to other issues and struggles, it may be low priority. However, it does offer a radical paradigm shift in how women see their bodies and what the female body is capable of.  The interview exposes readers who may not familiar to the bodybuilding world to another image of beauty. Many claim that this type of body on a woman is not beautiful. This leads to the question what is beauty? Who defines it? If an alternative is found to current standards will that be just as oppressive as the current ones? The Colette Nelson interview explores these questions.

            The definition of beauty can be stated as ” the quality aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts mind or spirit.” This becomes ambiguous when questioned. The beauty concept and be highly subjective. It should be understood beauty had become a subject of philosophy notably in aesthetics. The modern world merely associates it with physical attractiveness of a person. These concepts date back to classical Greece and the Age of Reason. Physical attractiveness is a different  concept, but closely related. This varies from culture and time period. At one time in the West a fuller figure was more accepted. Around the 20th century a thinner look was made an ideal. Now it seems there is a small, yet growing fitness fad that wants present a stronger looking form for the female body. These models and paradigms change. Colette explains her sport as follows : “bodybuilding-at least women’s bodybuilding is another way of judging beauty.” She explains further that ” for those who attend and judge women’s bodybuilding contests, the muscular woman is beautiful.” Here were getting more of an idea of the definition. Beauty can be defined in multiple forms and in this case it is a muscular one. The reason this becomes an amazing paradigm shift is that it redefines the beauty model. The muscular body was thought to be something solely of the male domain. It was contrasted with either the soft or frail body of woman.

The strong woman breaks the mold of the rigid dichotomy. It is commonly believed that the pursuit of beauty to such a degree is either based in arrogance or vanity. Colette then states: “do you consider a woman who does make up hours in front of the mirror arrogant ?” Colette’s response was no in her argument. She then says “why should we give this label to a woman who works out hard in the gym and shows results on stage?” Colette then says both are seeking their version of perfection. The reason is based in sexism. Women are held to a different standard and it is normally designed to be restrictive. When examining these definitions and connotations of beauty it becomes more complicated when femininity becomes connected. Femininity’s definition has nothing to do with beauty or physical attractiveness. It can mean simply the qualities of womanhood. Colette explains that people see contradictions between muscles, femininity, and beauty. Beauty and femininity can have multiple meanings, so there would be limited contradiction based on subjective ideas. Muscles are part of the human body. These strong women have decided to develop it to the highest level attainable.

      Femininity does not equal beauty. The definition is “the qualities of being a woman.” yet what makes a woman a woman? Gender defines it in a cultural context that could vary. These attitudes change overtime. This however should not be confused with biological sex, which is the product of human evolution and sexual dimorphism. Societies that are extremely patriarchal or male dominated dictate femininity in rigid gender lines. This is designed to be restrictive and controlling of women. When examined from the context of sports it has been said that women active in them are not feminine. Such attitudes demonstrate sexism, but have been challenged. It is no long abnormal for a woman to display strength or athletic skills. There are still limits of acceptance in the cultural atmosphere. A woman can show some strength,but not too much that it challenges the notion men have sole monopoly on physical strength. Colette says in the interview “that she wants to prove that muscle can be feminine and beautiful.” It certainly can be one form of beauty; the problem is that people have a narrow perspective of other paradigms or alternatives. Some women who do not fit the majority model of beauty may even internalize negativity. Women who alter their bodies to further extremes through drug use receive ostracism from the public and even their  their own circles.  It seems that the concern over drug use is more about a woman’s appearance rather than their health. Virilization can occur depending on how long steroids were taken and specific dosage. Colette said she was never willing to go that route, because she did not want to sacrifice her femininity. That term is  ambiguous and can mean many things depending on which culture and community you reside in. To say women who have been effected by drug use are no longer women represents the narrow space in which they can navigate in society. Colette has fought back in a sense providing make-up and hairdressing services to competitors. Colette has helped with women who have had baldness or facial hair growth. Colette articulated “it was not her place to judge or criticize these women, but should they ask for it offer my help.” If only the public and bodybuilding community could have the same conviction, women would have an easier time. A woman who does not take the drug use route still has criticism directed at them for their appearance. Colette reveals that most women would rather have the body shape of Jillian Michaels.

It appears at times that Colette even struggles with the idea of a muscular woman. Colette expresses “as a female bodybuilder you walk a fine line.” She expounds further saying ” you love muscle, yet you love being a woman at the same time.” This is not a contradiction yet many in the fitness circles still think in this manner. What bothers more traditional thinkers is that it alters their views of femininity. Women who participate in this sport have formed a new definition of femininity. This new thought not only frightens some, but its the idea that women’s bodies can be powerful. Some men do not like the like the concept of a woman being physically stronger. This intrudes on the unwritten mores of gender norms in which masculine identity has a huge emphasis on strength and dominance. The more tolerant men may find women in shape appealing . This also has a limit among supporters. A woman can be strong just not “too” strong. One coded language phrase is that a woman who is too muscular “crossed the line.” This means that the woman is no longer acceptable in terms of body type and physical attractiveness. This subtle sexist attitude does not realize these athletes are doing this for themselves not the approval of others.  There has been at least a shift were society at least accepts a woman that is in shape or has some visible muscle. However, female bodybuilders are the most muscular which in the eyes of some men are threatening.

 The threat is that it makes them realize that strength is not their sole property. One reason women have been subjugated in particular societies is due to the fact they do not have control of their own bodies. This extends to the restriction on reproductive rights and how women should look. The deviation from conformity also is threatening, mainly on the basis it could depose the status quo. Whether women choose to build their bodies by natural or pharmaceutical means it is a radical statement about what a woman is. It seems to be so controversial some feminists even reject the muscular woman or ignore them in the discourse on gender relations. There should not be a contradiction between femininity and athletics. The only reason it would be is in a society that has a limited view of what women and be and accomplish.

     How Colette Nelson acquired her respect for the muscular form is interesting. She was 12 years old when she saw pictures of  Rachel Mclish and Cory Everson and loved how they looked. When Colette was growing up female bodybuilding was in its infancy. Never before had women developed their bodies to this level in human history. There were of course muscular women prior to the sport, but this was the first time they had a platform.

Colette admits she loved bigger and muscular bodies. Oddly she also reveals that she had dissatisfaction with her own figure. As ludicrous as this sounds she claims “she never considered herself looking good” in her youth. It is clear now she is a more confident person, yet it is still prevalent that young women age taught to have a level of insecurity about their appearance. Extreme cases may result in developing eating disorders, constant dieting, and psychological issues. Colette was able to avoid these problems through exercise. This had to be done for the sake of her health considering she has type 1 diabetes. The discovery she had this disease in her own words made her feel “weak, damaged and broken.”  Colette the took the suggestion of working out and found it was an empowering experience. She became more accepting of her body and loved being strong. Women who do this do say they develop a new sense of self and greater level security in their abilities in other areas of life. There are not only physical benefits from weightlifting;there are important psychological developments that contribute to well being.

    Being diagnosed with such an illness diet and exercise are pivotal for health. Colette was expose to an alternative of beauty and decided for herself that it should be replicated. This demonstrates that images and beliefs that children are exposed to can influence their attitudes later in life. It is possible if more people were exposed to women like this early in life it would not be such a shock to them in adulthood.

         Colette did not go into bodybuilding to get attention, but people are not used to seeing a muscular woman. Living in New York, there seems to be a more open atmosphere. She does get stares and Colette even admits she likes the attention. There were times in which men would say “I want to armwrestle you.” The majority of the comments Colette Nelson receives are positive. Though its still is not unheard of to get some form of vituperation or insult from the more closed minded. There are many reasons why people would respond to the muscular or athletic woman in a certain way. Curiosity and the desire to discover something new may cause stares or questions. Their may be an attraction to such a physique and seeing it up close causes excitement.

IMG_3247

Colette Nelson recognizes that we are not brought up how to respond to women with muscle. Seeing as women like this are rare, it does induce some form of wonder. There now is more exposure thanks to the internet and social media. This is another challenge women have to deal with. Either it is an in between off hash criticism or sexualization. The problem with the latter is that it reduces the women to sex objects, rather than focusing on their accomplishments. It is understandable why female bodybuilders who get frustrated being seen as fetish objects for schmoes. Like it or not a woman with a muscular frame will attract  attention both negative and positive.

       Another issue arises from the development of another beauty model. Does it just remove another one and then becomes standard? Some feminists argue that bodybuilding would not be empowering on the grounds it has women obsessively pursue a particular image. The flaw with this assertion is that these women are going against mainstream convention. The most empowering act is to make your own decisions as a free individual. Here, women decide to become as physically powerful as possible doubtless of what men think. Colette Nelson describes her bodybuilding pursuit as the struggle for perfection in terms of muscular aesthetics. Colette stated “she was always  classed a pretty, but wanted more.” This is not hubris.This is competitive drive and what some bodybuilders refer to as living sculpture. Flesh is the clay and the weights become your tools of molding art. The point is not to say all women should appear a certain way, but realize they are all different. There should be room for all forms of beauty.

         While it is true there is a level of societal pressure placed on women to look and behave a certain way, there are instances in which personal decisions add to the problem. The biggest problem with the the beauty myth theory is that women do certain things to themselves in others which perpetuate a vicious cycle. Third wave feminists fail to admit this unfortunate reality. Women continue to spend large amounts of money of make -up, hair care, and anti-aging products. There is no one forcing them to do such things, but the power of advertisement and capitalist free market enterprise is powerful . When examined from this point of view, the argument that women are being oppressed by a beauty myth seems to lack credibility. Then it is no secret that other women criticize women who look different. Many female bodybuilders have said they have gotten negative comments surprisingly from other women.

Naomi Wolf.
If Naomi Wolf is convinced that the beauty myth harms women so, why does she still wear make up and engage in other behaviors that perpetuate it ?

 At some point being pressured is not a legitimate excuse.  To a feminist looks should not be of importance, because liberation is the goal. There are many contradictions of what remains of a feminist movement. Another problem is that the feminist movement refuses in its mainstream discourse to be intersectional. White women middle class feminists ignore or either do not care about the struggle against racism, homophobia,  or class conflict.  The beauty myth concept often ignores that racist element in models of beauty which  dehumanize African and Asian people. Light skin is considered” beautiful “and African American women are told to straighten their hair. Asian women are pressured into getting eye lid surgery. These changes in appearance are done to mimic the appearance of whiteness. They are designed to instill self hate, while simultaneously presenting the oppressor as a “superior being.” The fact white middle class feminists do not challenge this is because the benefit from white supremacy and white privilege.  They just do not benefit from to the maximum extent due to their sex. Besides these complicated issues of racism, there is the issue of blaming every man for women’s condition. Radical feminists claim that all men contribute to women’s oppression. This is a false assertion, considering there are men who are members of oppressed groups. African American, Native American, South American, and Asian American men have suffered under the violence of white supremacy. To say every man oppresses every woman has not factual support. Hopefully, women can learn to reject societal pressure and think for themselves what beauty means to them.

          Since this blog post was written there has been some shift. It is a small one that emerged in fitness circles with the slogan “strong is the new skinny.” While women are not attempt to reach Colette’s level, the idea that some muscle does not seem like an anathema. The rise of crossfit did contribute with women presenting not only impressive physiques, but excellent performances. The responses are positive, with the occasional detractor.

 Again, there is another conundrum. This slogan and zeitgiest seems to be mostly confined to a small circle. Although it has gotten some mainstream exposure. the concept of a woman being “too much” still lingers. There are still backward and dated notions about what women should be and do. What also is frustrating is that the mainstream treats  the sudden acceptance ( to a limited degree) of the muscular woman as a recent phenomenon. There have been male fans who have been following female bodybuilding since its inception during the 1970s. The emergence of the internet expanded the audience and led to the growth of a subculture. Now there are millions of websites, blogs , and social media venues specifically targeting female muscle fans. While it seems unlikely at this point that the muscular body will be a model of beauty for the mainstream, women have decided to make it their own. When Colette Nelson was born Title IX was only two years old and female bodybuilding did not exist. These two events radically changed how women viewed themselves and their physical capabilities. The best action women can take is to define beauty on their own terms, rather than having it dictated to them.

Colette Nelson Interview from The Beheld : Beauty and What It Means

Will Women Out Run Men in the Future?

It was once predicted that women in track and field would reach or surpass men’s performance levels. These predictions were made in the early 1980s. The examination of Olympic records demonstrates a different outcome. Women’s Olympic records were stabilizing by 1983. After more drug testing it appeared women were reducing in speed. The use of performance enhancing drugs can not be the sole explanation for the increase in performance. Women at this time were still relative newcomers to international professional sport. Women were again gaining higher times by the 21st century, which sparked interest in possibilities of performance in female runners. While it is true women and increase their speed and strength, does this mean they will out sprint men in the future ? Some exercise physiologists have made predictions based on current data. There are claims that women will outrun men by 2156. Predictions can be wrong and many times unscientific. Stating it would never happen also causes some errors. To discover the answer to this question, it must be approached through methods of biology and physiology.

       There is a point in which athletic performance between men and women is equivalent. Boys and girls are at the same level of aerobic and strength capacity. The skeletons and bone structure has not been changed due to the effects of puberty. Puberty in terms of endocrinological changes works in the advantage of males. Men will gain a significant strength spurt, denser bones, larger lungs, and bigger hearts. The changes in women result in more body fat and the development of a wider pelvis. This means girls on a high school track team would see themselves getting slower. Girls who are on high school track and field teams normally seem to peak athletically as  freshmen and sophomores. This differs for various individuals. Average female runners may struggle more with the hormonal changes, than the more genetically advantaged. It has been noted that girls who have low body fat levels and exercise strenuously  may have delayed puberty. With gymnasts and sprinters this could result in a delayed growth spurt between the ages of 17 and 18. Training has to be adjusted to account for these changes. Weight training that concentrates on the hip areas can help prevent possible injuries. Weight management will have to be incorporated to account for the change in metabolism. Estrogen allows for more fat storage and extra weight does not contribute to increased acceleration.

All-USA-girls-high-school-track-and-field-team-8T9K8IS-x-large

Despite these changes there are girls who attain higher speeds in adulthood and even go on to international competition. Although endocrinology explains the change in performance, it should not be forgotten that girls still face obstacles in sport. Title IX may not be enforced in certain school districts as it should. This would mean that girls would not have access to training facilities or even a team of their own. Other countries may keep women out of sport completely. Biology is not the sole factor, but environment. Women were only allowed to run in Olympic event starting in 1928. Men entry in running events in the modern Olympics began in 1900. During that time many argued women simply did not have the strength and stamina to run vigorously. This has since been disproved by exercise physiology. Still the influence of hormones on athletic performance cannot be underestimated.

       The legs of the human body allow for running to be possible. Men and women’s legs differ little  structure and anatomy. They contain the same bones and muscles. While men have more upper body strength, women are closer to men in the lower body. This does not mean women by default have stronger legs than men, rather it is easier for them to build strength in this region of the body. This does not mean women cannot build powerful legs through training. Type II muscle fibers would be best for sprinters who require short bursts of power. Type I muscle fibers are best suited for long distance runners. Men have larger muscle fibers, which means this would useful to the leg muscles. A runner uses a multitude of muscles when running.

 When moving the leg in the forward motion the quadriceps are utilized. This muscle is located at the front of the thigh and is responsible for straitening the knee, while bending the hips. The quadriceps also have the ability to absorb shock from impact as one lands on the ground. The hamstrings will straighten the hips and function to lift the knee behind you. Simultaneously, the soleus and gastrocnemius will flex and extend for each foot during launch and landings. The soleus and gastrocnemius contribute to absorbing shock, but also provide the stride in the rum. The gluteus maximus plays a role in running allowing for the stabilizing the trunk of the body. The hip  flexors and extendors collaborate with the quadriceps and hamstrings to keep the legs in motion.  Runners focus on building leg strength mainly to prevent injuries. When one muscle group is weak than the other this could to one over compensating and poor alignment. This could also result in repetitive motion injuries occurring in the knees, hips, and feet.

si55550736

plyometrics can be employed to improve performance. These exercises involve using jumping and bounding. These merely use hopping motions, while alternating legs to exercise deeper muscles of the legs. A muscle when exercised will increase in size. Muscular hypertrophy can occur in women through training, but men see a higher level of gains in total muscle mass. The reason is that higher testosterone levels allow for more protein synthesis. This results in a difference in absolute muscular strength between men and women. This even effects the legs.

12246862_10206946106944481_1229771990811612216_n
The muscles of the legs include the hamstrings, quadriceps, soleus, gluteus maximus, and gastrocnemius  which are essential for running.

3D4_POS_24411

It is not just muscles that are responsible for strength, but the bones, ligaments, and tendons. The skeletal structure is critical when looking at running speeds. Technically, women can have larger leg muscles,but there are other reasons they may not attain the same speed levels.

        Women have lower bone mass compared to men. One factor that causes that explains women’s slower speeds is the structure of the pelvis. The female pelvis is different from that of men. It is wider for the purpose of childbirth. This also creates a level of risks in running . Women are more likely to have knee ligament injuries, due to a wider pelvis which forms a larger angle between the thigh and the shin bones. This means the knee will experience more pressure. The pelvis consists of the hip bones, sacrum as well as coccyx. It connects the lower limbs to the axial skeleton. The symphsis pubis, which is a disc structure of cartilage separates the left and right pubic bones. The main differences between the female pelvis is that it is lighter, more shallow, and the sacrum is much  shorter. Both ilium are less sloped, which means the anterior superior iliac spines are wider apart. The coccyx is more flexible in the female skeleton. The actual hip sockets are smaller and are directed more so to the front.

These differences do not seem to be advantages in terms of increasing running speed. If women’s pelvis’ were even wider they would not be able to walk. Men’s narrower pelvis contributes to faster speeds. Besides the actual pelvis, the bones of the legs are pivotal. The femur, tibia, and fibula are support structures for the muscles of the legs. The extra angling can make women more vulnerable to anterior cruciate ligament tears. Women just like men can also suffer from overuse of tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges. Women ‘s looser joints allow for more flexibility, but in running it could pose problems. Muscles and bones are pivotal to running. There is also the importance of aerobic capacity and its relation to the respiratory system.

      Aerobic capacity differs between men and women. The VO2max is the amount of oxygen that is used during exercise. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which means their total aerobic out put would be lower compared to a man of a larger size. The muscles need oxygen to have it form adinosine triphosphate. The larger the heart means more blood pumping through the body, while larger lungs can oxygenate tissues. Realizing these differences in both the heart and respiratory system means women would require a specific training program. Women’s ventricular hypertrophy may not increase as much as a man’s given duration and intensity. Women do have an advantage in terms of pacing. Men may be more susceptible to muscle glycogen depletion, which women’s fat reserves can contribute to endurance exercise. One would assume this means women, may not be able to run any faster. The conclusion would be to design training tailored to these specific physiological and anatomical differences.

heart1-1514FD4F6F43590E1CD
The human heart can pump up to 80ml of blood with each beat.
512e82213660136de37642ae475852c1
The respiratory system consists of both upper and lower tracts. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that contracts and flattens. The reduction of pressure on the thoracic cavity allows the lungs to expand downward. This will force air out and the lungs go back to regular position.

The heart anatomically and physiologically is the same in men and women. The heart’s structure is that of a muscular pump which is divided by the septum. It is further divided by two pivotal chambers. The upper atrium is the first chamber followed by a lower ventricle in which the blood will be pumped. The Vo2max  capacity is reliant on several factors. The heart’s total capacity to pump blood is essential. The lungs ability to oxygenate blood transported active muscles and other tissues also contributes a role in aerobic capacity. Then hemoglobin levels and the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood effect total aerobic output. Smaller lungs and hearts of women means that oxygen will be slower getting to tissues of the body. An athlete can breath up to sixty times or more per minute. The lungs are cone structured containing a narrow apex and base. There are only two, but the right has three lobes. The left lung has to make room for the heart and only has two lobes in total. The trachea acts as an airway, while the bronchi (left and right), their subdivisions,  and other lung tissues work on gaseous exchange. Besides the muscular system playing a role the cardiovascular and respiratory system are a major part of running performance.

       The anatomical and physiological traits are averages. It is important to this question to examine data of female runners. The samples are limited due to certain factors. The first problem is that women’s participation in sports are lower, which means their could still be women in the global population who would not be counted in data. Then there is the question of performance enhancing drug use. Men account for more of the users of performance enhancing drugs and women have used the same substances as well. The theory holds that women benefited more from performance enhancing drugs. Anabolic androgenic steroids some sports scientists say was the reason certain records were being set in the 1970s and 1980s. That cannot not be the only explanation for these records. It could have been a combination of training and use of performance enhancing drugs. However, if anabolic steroids were so effective women should have closed the difference in performance. The fact is that drugs would not turn an athlete superhuman. Steroids only alter the endocrine system, but will not change the individual at the genetic level.

Screen-Shot-2016-08-12-at-8.21.35-PM-768x441
Women’s and men’s records as recorded in the 1980s.
Screen-Shot-2016-08-12-at-8.39.25-PM-768x350
The change in records through the decades.

Testosterone is helpful in muscular hypertrophy, but not the only factor. A woman with a naturally mesomorphic body can develop muscle. A woman on steroids would not have the equivalent strength levels of a male athlete. The reason being is that the testes produce more free testosterone as compared to the estrogen produced in a woman’s body. This explains why when boys grow into men their natural strength becomes higher. The graph below shows some records of boys and girls, then men and women. The dramatic change happens around ages 14 and 15. The teenage boys seem to have higher records to adult women. This is a small sample gathered from women and men from childhood to puberty .Women do not gain a strength spurt, rather estrogen produces more fat. Whiles testosterone is a significant component it is not the only one. There was a slump in records after new testing procedures emerged, but women’s records began to rise a little once more.

record times

What can be extrapolated from this is that drug use was not the sole reason. The idea that drugs can produce victories without proper and precise training regimens is false. There are periods in which new talents emerge. Then it must be considered that there are attributes unique to an individual’s biology. An athlete would have a genetic advantage, which means other athletes attempting to break their records would find it insuperable.

       There are athletes due to their biology and genetics have an edge in competition. There are women through their performances have demonstrated this. Paula Radcliff finished the London marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 25 seconds in 2003 (running a 26 mile). This was an impressive leap forward. It also shows who records are altered by sports federations. The International Associations of  Athletics Federations declared in 2012 that they eliminated her time from the annuls of marathon records, because she was running with male pacemakers. That means women who run in mixed groups cannot have their times archived. This again is an example of how you cannot get precise data. There could be women like Radcliff running in mixed groups, but are not documented for records.Even though sexist prejudice does not recognize the record, it still is a documented time.  Florence Griffith Joyner was another remarkable talent. If we were to compare her fastest time (10.49 S) to Usain Bolt’s (9.58s). Joyner would still be slower yet the difference is only by 0.91s. That means she would still be close to him if this were a tack meet. Despite the anatomical and physiological differences Joyner was able to obtain a high level of physical fitness.

1843RunnersFLO (2).png

1843RunnersUSAIN (2)

Elaine Thompson during the Rio 2016 achieved a time 10.71s. Compared to Joyner’s record it is a difference 0.22s. Assuming that Elaine Thompson can improve her training, it would simple to reach or beat Joyner’s record. Usain Bolt’s record would be more difficult for her to reach. These are not your average track athletes, they a professional Olympic competitors. These women are not average; they are exceptional. What they achieved may not be in reach of every women who decides to compete.

This not only applies to women, but men as well. Every man would not be able to reach Bolt’s level of performance. Joyner, Thompson, and Radcliffe  are a few examples of how genes and training can develop a high performing athlete. Being female is not a limitation in terms of developing physical prowess.  There has to be consideration of biology and the physiological attributes of sex  when training. While it is clear these women can run faster than an average man, they still have yet to achieve speeds of the fastest men. One can assume that women will never do. Yet, just like making predictions it is fast conclusion. Human evolution has show that the body has changed over millions of years. The most dramatic is that humanity became bipedal. developed a more complex brain, and shorter intestines. Assuming that humanity could still be evolving physically, the question becomes more expansive.

       Oxford University produced a study in 2004 stated that in 2156 women will outrun men. This was a study led by a professor of the name of Dr.Tatem. Readers should again question material that they receive. Similar predictions were made in 1992 saying women would be out running men by 2000. The error they made was that performance would follow almost a linear model. The data shows more of a sinusoidal fluctuation. The Oxford study states that women sprinters will reach times 8.079s in the 100m. The authors then claim that 2064 will be the year in which women sprinters shall achieve higher performance levels. Their assessment was that women would not overtake men, but reduce the gap in performance. That seems more realistic, rather than the 2156 prediction of women dominating sprint performances. There is still much to be explored about sports performance. Women are often ignored in exercise physiology studies, because most are designed for men. There are efforts to change this now that women are entering this field. The mathematics of this study may not be as precise, but Elaine Thompson’s 10.71 second record makes it seem as if it is achievable. It would almost be impossible for a human being to reach a time of 4.5 seconds. There is a point in which the body reaches physiological peak. This means that there can no longer be improvements to strength, speed, or endurance because maximum levels have been reached.

         This question has several possible answers. The first could be that women will narrow the gap  and some will even overlap with men. The more conventional answer is that women will not out run men in the future and they have achieved all they can. The third answer may be that women will surpass men either by new training techniques, changes in human evolution, or changes in genetics. The third answer would be difficult to prove due to the fact evolution takes millions of years. There still genes being identified and it is still questionable which ones form a great athlete. Training techniques are revised overtime. There is considerable debate which results in the best performance. The second answer seems to just assume results will stay stagnant. Although looking at the data now shows that it seems unlikely women would out run men, one should never just assume. The situation could change, but not in this period. It was in the 1928 Olympics than many believed women were too weak for running. Now, women are running faster than the men of the 20th century. There is possibility of improvement or maybe women have reached their full physical capability. The reason men could be still improving is that they have not reached theirs yet. Examining performance from that perspective men would be behind. The more realistic conclusion is that women would narrow the gap. It would not be closed nor would women en mass outperform men. However, it it not impossible that individual women could reach male performance levels in the future.

References

Brewer,Sarah. The Human Body A Visual Guide to Anatomy.  London:Quercus, 2012.

Mcdonagh, Eileen and Pappano, Laura. Playing With the Boys : Why Separate Is Not 

   Equal in Sports. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

“UK | Women ‘may Outsprint Men by 2156’.” BBC News. BBC, 30 Sept. 2004. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3702650.stm&gt;.

George, Brandon. “Track Skills Often Decline as Girls Mature into Women | SportsDay.”SportsDayHS. SportsDayHS, 19 May 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/high-school/sportsheadlines/2010/05/19/20100513-Track-skills-often-decline-as-girls-6083&gt;.
Tucker, Ross. “Women vs Men Part II: The Physiology of Difference | Science of Sport.” The Science of Sport. The Science of Sport, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. <https://sportsscientists.com/2007/10/women-vs-men-part-ii-the-physiology-of-difference/&gt;.
Will Women Out Run Men in the Future?

Kana Ichikawa

Kana Ichikawa  is an athlete who specializes in sprinting. Born in 1991  her rise in the sport began in 2010. Here she made her entrance on the scene of international competition with the World Junior Championships. She stands at 5 ft 5 in and 108 lbs. She has competed in the Asian Games ( 2014), Asian Championships ( 2011 and 2015), East Asian Games ( 2013) , the IAAF Relays ( 2014 and 2015), the Universiade ( 2011), and the 2012 Olympic Games. Her personal best performances were in   100 metres (11.43), 200 metres( 23.51), and 400 metres ( 54.14). Just only 26 years old, she is still in comparison new to the world of international athletics competition. Her journey into athletics began in Junior High School. There she competed in inter-High School championships. When she entered Chukyo University, she had blossomed into a very skilled sprinter. While she has not made any competition appearances since 2015, many fans hope that she will at least comeback for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is uncertain if she will continue or retire. Whatever her decision, fans wish the best of luck to her.

Kana Ichikawa