posted by Joe Anaya on January 12th, 2015

Something I noticed at a few of my kid’s wrestling tournaments is that there is at least one girl on every team, most have more than one.

As a doting father, I’ve had lots of time to sit in the stands killing time watching other matches and sitting next to various high school teams. I was surprised to see so many female grapplers.

One of my son’s teammates had a match against one of the girls from another school. His dad and I made a few jokes about losing to a girl who wasn’t his sister. We laughed, the boys just looked at us.

We tried to explain why it was funny that he wrestled a girl.

Blank stares.

“Because she’s a girl,” his dad sheepishly offered.

Blank stares followed by old-people-are-crazy looks.

It dawned on us that our boys didn’t get the joke, because in their world, there was nothing funny about a girl participating in a sport, any sport.

In my day, our high school had a girl on the soccer team. We didn’t have a girl’s team so she joined the boy’s team. It was such an oddity that her participation even made the local papers.

I’m not even sure it was legal for a girl to wrestle. There were rumors of a girl wrestler in the state somewhere, but like the mythical unicorn I never saw her; nobody I knew had seen her, but we all “knew” about her. The big debate was whether we would forfeit rather than wrestle or God forbid lose to a girl.

There are so many girls wrestling now, there are all-girl tournaments with almost 200 girls. There are about 20 colleges that have a women’s wrestling team. In 2004, female wrestling became an Olympic sport. Times really have changed since I was a high school wrestler.

There’s a quote that says, “Change happens one funeral at a time.” Although I don’t believe women should be barefoot and pregnant, apparently there will be fewer sexist ideas roaming around at my funeral.

Of course, the recovering Catholic in me felt guilty for almost corrupting my son into to world of sexism. Then I felt pretty good that enough “crazy old people” had died off, that the boys were living in an age where a girl on the wrestling team wasn’t a GIRL wrestler. She was just another wrestler.

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