"You can only hope to contain them."
Amanda Hess' article Female athletes' biggest opponents are their own breasts on ESPN.com accurately describes what a handicap boobs can be in virtually all sports. And I have to agree. Both in my life as a swimmer and now as a martial artist, I can attest that there certainly are times when boobs are a pain. They get in the way, don't stay put, get banged and bruised, or try to make appearances when they shouldn't. Despite its patronizing title, I thought this article gave a fair overview of a universal nuisance for female athletes.
But, while the article was written by a female, is was also written from a male norm perspective. As in, male athletes are the norm and female athletes are the exception, or the deviation from that norm. Female athletes are handicapped to varying degrees because they have breasts of varying sizes. Breasts are portrayed not as normal body parts but as something to be fought and ultimately overcome in a female's quest for athleticism. Breasts are cited as our biggest opponents. The author argues that "a mounting body of evidence suggests that they pose a serious challenge in nearly all corners of competition."
The more I think and stew about it, the less I like this article. Women may be inconvenienced by our boobs, but at least our gonads are tucked away internally where they can safely reside. Men have no such luck - theirs are all out there in the open, where they are vulnerable to all sorts of assaults. It makes me think that this might not really be a female problem. Perhaps it is male athletes whose biggest opponents are their own balls.
Let's break down the specifics of the article:
WomenMen are handicapped because their breastsballs can slip out of clothing, causing embarrassment. Ronda Rousey, whose boob almost slipped out of her bra during her first UFC fight, is cited as an example. However, Dennis Hallman's testicle actually did become exposed during UFC 133. Further, I come from a competitive swimming background, where swimsuits are chosen for speed, not for appearance. Male swimmers, as a whole, are fairly modest about their balls and strongly prefer to keep them covered in public venues. Speed suits do not make modesty a priority and the ensuing overexposure can be a source of embarrassment for male athletes. WomenMen are handicapped because their breastsballs get in the way of executing athletic movements. Breasts might influence how a female athlete swings a golf club, sure. But that doesn't compare to what guys go through on a spin bike. Those seats are brutal and there seems to be no way to rearrange to comfortably adjust. Male athletes' only hope is to gradually numb the area over time. I have a friend who will not ride a bike at all, citing fertility concerns. WomenMen are handicapped because their breastsballs add extra weight to their frames. Testicles add about a half of a pound to the bodies of male athletes. And every pound of body weight counts in sports like running and gymnastics. WomenMen are handicapped because breastsballs bounce during athletic activities, causing pain and discomfort. "Research has confirmed that size does matter: As breastsballs get bigger, they accelerate quicker, move faster and bounce higher." WomenMen are handicapped because when breastsballs get hit, it hurts like a motha.
When I get hit in the boobs, it hurts a decent amount, but it is not terrible. I'd rather get hit hard in the boobs than the stomach, for example. Unless I am being lied to, getting hit in the balls brings pain to a much higher degree. My training partner tells me that he would much rather get hit in the stomach than in the balls. Unfortunately, when you do contact sports, getting hit in the crotch is a fact of life. And if the ref doesn't see it, the fight/match/game goes on.
The author goes on to describe how women are more frequently getting breast reduction surgeries to enhance athleticism. This makes me sad. I'm not discounting the hindrances that larger breasted gals must face, but, in my view, having breasts is not in direct opposition to being an athlete. Until men seek out optional removal of their balls, we need to leave our boobs alone. They are NOT our biggest opponents.