What it Means to Play Like a Girl

Girls playing Soccer

You know about my advocacy of Girl Power.

My card-carrying membership in the Male Feminist Society.

The fact I love my girls three, and all they do, girly or not.

Some of that hits the surface only. It’s easy to be the advocate or card-carrier or love my girls. But to really immerse myself in this life of girl-rearin’, I have to kind of roll around in it and live in it.

I’m not about to reveal that I’ve been using their lip gloss, swooning over One Direction videos with them, or ordering my chicken nuggets with ketchup. But to raise girls, It helps to understand girls. (Like when Josh Hamilton’s character in “Outsourced” struggled to effectively manage a call center in India until he stopped to understand India, rather than run it as an American office. Recommended Netflix viewing, by the way.)

It’s not a new concept, after all. As a sports writer, I always appreciated the female rendition of games, and their contrast to what the sport looks like when my gender tips it off/tees it up/kicks it off:

Flickr - The U.S. Army - Go Army, Beat Navy

Women’s basketball: Played beneath the rim, yes, but with greater patience, commitment to passing and fundamentals;

Men’s basketball: Played above the rim, with score-in-droves urgency, with commitment to flair and showmanship.

Women’s golf: Predicated on the safer lies, the smarter approach, the reliance on a strong short game;

Men’s golf: Predicated on a belief that with a titanium driver, personal trainer and dry-wick polo shirt, we can drive a golf ball right *through* any quarter-mile thick grove of trees and *over* any major body of water hazard that dares stand in the way of us and a double-eagle.

Women’s soccer: Played with smarter defensive tactics, not just rough play, and with winning the ball at a premium;

Men’s soccer: Played with more of a prison hierarchy of defensive tactics, with punishing your opponent near your goal at the premium.

Want to know why the male cardinal is red, why the male mallard has a shiny, green head, or why those little green lizards puff out their throats whenever there’s a predator, male rival, or semi-attentive female around?

Want to know why we men have to buy a bigger grill, an automobile with more horsepower, a drill set with more drill bits?

Why we can’t stand to order lunch without supersizing?

We feel we have to go big, or go home, as it’s been said.

Sports icon

And it’s precisely why, when we play sports, we try to kill it.

Mash it.

Crash it.

Wind up in a SportsCenter highlight.

I’m as guilty as the next.

I couldn’t understand why my throw in Wii bowling would curve so severely, and wind up toppling three pins despite the thunder I brought with the hardest fling of the controller I could muster.

Grr! That should be a strike!! I remembered days of my youth bowling for real, with materials, not computers, when my friend Nathan’s goal wasn’t a strike or a turkey or a 300 game – he simply wanted to break a pin. Just one. Break it because he’d thrown the heaviest ball he could muster as hard as he could.

Now that’s a story.

Anyway, Marie set me straight and bled a little of that caveman mentality out of me.

“You don’t have to swing so hard, dad,” she pointed out, then demonstrated a more effective – dare I say feminine – throw, which wound up with her on her toes, Wii controller pointed heavenward. (No, I didn’t add that flair).

I did take some mustard off, though.

3d,alleys,bowling balls,Fotolia,games,knocked down,lanes,pins,rows,spares,sports,strikesAnd bowled a strike.

This lesson played itself out on the disc golf course, too, where I’d unconsciously squinted my eyes and put my entire being into a tee shot, somehow believing I’d actually slice *through* any trees in the way, and my disc would land safely inside the basket on the other side. If only I threw it as hard as I possibly could without producing a hernia, hemorrhoid or aneurysm.

I began tossing to spots. Throwing with my arms and shoulders and pivoting my waste, instead of taking a running start like a javelin thrower on Benadryl.

My game improved immensely. I even began bagging long putts, and nearly nabbing unreasonably long shots, from 60-plus yards. Trees everywhere celebrated their safety in silence.

Again, a little mustard saved.

A little less puffing out of the red throat bubble.

An understanding that you can look the girl at the counter in the eye at Five Guys Burgers and Fries and say, “I’ll have a “little bacon cheeseburger,” and not believe you’re simultaneously forfeiting your man card, but that it says volumes about your reasonability; that it doesn’t mean you’d never make it through a round of ancient gladiator action, and  that you’re still a prince, or a badass, or whatever it is you aspire to be.

After eyeing a tough lie for his disc, sitting in a wooded area with a substantial oak tree between him and the pin, a player at the World Disc Golf championships turned to me, the official spotter of hole No. 7, and said, “I’d better just play this one like a girl.”

Edison Disc Golf

He did. And finished the hole in three strokes, not four, as he might have had he reeled back and tried to kill it.

Play beneath the rim.

Defend smartly.

Throw/drive to spots.

Because when you take a little mustard off, sometimes, it’s all gravy.


  1. AnnMarie says:

    This is a great post showing great writing. I love the comparisons between the women’s and men’s sports and I love the way you tied it up at the end. I’m going to have to check out that movie and the thought of you in lip gloss…priceless.

    1. Thanks, AnnMarie. I hope I’d still have this appreciation for women’s athletics, even if I had three boys. That movie made me much more kind when I recently received a call from an Indian in a call center. We Americans tend to be really harsh on them. And I’d also hope to think that I was kind to him because I’m a kind person, not just because India poses no Olympic threat to the United States.

      Wow, the thought of me in lip gloss. Nightmarish. Although with my complexion, probably something in a deep red would be best. But i don’t know, I’d rather be sassy than trashy, and …

      Geez, what am I saying? I think I need a night of wings and football with the fellas.

  2. Uncle Mike says:

    You write like a girl.

    1. That means a lot, coming from you.

  3. rsrote says:

    Super post-
    Having a Son and a Daughter in soccer I see the difference first hand

    There are some thing that “doing like a girl” just brings out another layer you never enjoy before =)

    –just found you on vB–had to check it out-NOW Following

    1. Thanks! Do your kids play co-ed? I think the boys getting to go against the girls is good. For the boys.

      When I do stuff like a girl, I don’t know, I feel kinda … smart.

      Thanks for the follow! Welcome to the madness.

  4. Cindy Oest says:

    Great article and very well written, my friend!

    I think you can have a night of wings and football with the gals just as well as with the fellas (only leave the lip gloss at home)! 😉

    1. Thanks Cindy! As my daddy/daughter dates with the girls at Buffalo Wild Wings can attest, you’re right – wings and football isn’t just for the fellas! And who needs lip gloss with ultra-messy wings, anyway, right?

  5. Red says:

    Such writing talent! When’s your first book coming out and what will it be about?

    1. Why thank you. I’m thinking about writing an Amish cookbook, but with new stuff introduced, like cheese and salsa.

  6. Red says:

    Oh…and I have to watch “Outsourced”…because I personally ask to speak with someone in USA to keep our employment rates up.

    1. That’s the thing. If American companies can outsource certain things, they can operate for less money, thus strengthening their presence stateside. Not to get all political, but forcing American companies through legislation to operate a more expensive operation on American soil tends to keep the company from making enough money to spur growth.

      Wow, that *was* all political.

  7. This is quite a sweet write Coach Daddy! I do believe the girls are wearing off on you and I believe your glitter is showing nice and shiny. Don’t worry you will never lose your guy-ness! [grin]

    1. My guy-ness is very important to me. I’ve learned I can keep it and still play like a girl. It’s actually better this way.

      1. Of course it is. Sounds like you are doing a fine job! I love your candidness about learning the girlie side of life.

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