What Every Volleyball Mom Should Know

03.28.12

A little note to the Volleyball Moms out there.

Jane is playing volleyball these days and it’s just terrific. It’s a sport that kids come to a little later so there’s less parental involvement on the court than there is with other sports. I may have just lucked out with Jane’s particular group but the volleyball parents are absolutely wonderful. The coaches are also amazing.

As amazing as volleyball is I need every parent to know why there should be no cameras at your daughter’s volleyball matches.

These are Jane’s shorts.

Volleyball shorts

The first time she wore them she was clearly uncomfortable. She’d be tugging at them and pulling them down. To be frank Mr. G. and I were also a little uncomfortable just looking at her in them. Our daughter’s shorts were smaller and tighter than our son’s underwear. I tell myself that this is okay because she’s an athletic girl and it’s different than being the girl dancing on the sidelines while the boys shoot hoops.

I didn’t actually believe my self-talk. Who would?

I’m resigned to the fact that shorty shorts are the volleyball uniform. I’m not happy about it but it’s not the battle I’m about to wage as certainly it’s not one that I’m likely to win. Jane would lose.

So after a million misgivings about sexy looking shorts on my thirteen year old daughter I learned to suck it up and smile. Now when I look at her and her teammates I see athletic young women who run around gymnasium floors and leap vertically to hit the ball with an outstretched arm. There is no mistaking a volleyball player for anything other than an athlete when she is on the court.

Unless you’re a guy with a camera.

When I log out of google (logging out matters because it won’t be a personalized search) and search the term “volleyball shorts” these are the images that come up.

Volleyball_Shorts

If you feel a little sick to your stomach, if you feel a little bad that clearly underage girls are objectified like that then you know how I feel.

There are entire pages of Reddit devoted to girls in volleyball shorts. If you visit these pages you’ll probably feel a mix of rage and shame. If you feel excited I hope you’re a 13 year old boy and not a pedophile, the girls are… well, they’re little girls.

http://www.reddit.com/r/VolleyballGirls/

Of course a month ago Reddit had a “necessary change in policy” outlined here. It includes:

We have very few rules here on reddit; no spamming, no cheating, no personal info, nothing illegal, and no interfering the site’s functions. Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.

Although noble(ish) Reddit hasn’t been able to enforce this well. Reddit is not the whole  internet, to many it is the perfect representative, but Reddit is just a tiny corner of the internet and there are sites devoted to girls in volleyball shorts with nothing but crotch shots.

There are some important takeaways here for all the volleyball parents.

  • Do not share photos of your daughter’s volleyball team online without double checking for photos you want to keep private. This includes email.
  • Do not allow your daughter to be photographed from behind by strangers while playing volleyball.
  • Talk to your volleyball club about why you don’t want your daughter photographed by just anyone, do a quick google search with them and show them why.

Just yesterday the International Volleyball Federation announced that out of sensitivity to different cultures the women’s beach volleyball teams in London will be allowed to wear shorts that reach almost to the knee (yes they set a maximum length) as well as long sleeved shirts. This leaves me hopeful for years to com. For today there’s got to be a lockdown on how we’re allowing our daughter’s images to be used.

And please before anyone tries to explain that these shorts are somehow performance related I’d like to share with you an image of elite boys volleyball.

When Mom Shows Off: Another YouTube Playlist

11.8.11

Football Girls and Very Bad Parenting

10.18.11

When Jane was in the fourth grade she wanted to play football. What you may or may not know is that within the private schools in Los Angeles there are intramural sports starting in fourth grade. During the fall season the boys play football and the girls play basketball. Three years ago Jane wanted to play football with the boys. I said no.

I love sports. I play a lot of tennis, I’ve coached Jane’s soccer, before I was a soccer mom I was soccer girl. Sports matter for their own sake. I’m the mom that gets it.

Maybe I’m the mom that only sort of gets it.

When Jane wanted to play football with the boys I could see what she wanted. She wanted to prove to them that she was equal, she wanted to show the other girls that she was faster, stronger and smarter than the boys and the girls, everyone really. Jane wanted to physically dominate. I said no. Mr. G. said no to Jane and we didn’t offer her an answer, we just vetoed the whole football notion and sent her off to play a crappy game of basketball. Jane’s fourth grade teacher said I should fight for her to play football. We didn’t reflect on this, as we were pretty sure we did the right thing.

Alexander is in the fifth grade and he is on the football team. This year there is a fourth grade girl on the team. At the dinner table Alexander would talk about how there was a girl and at practice he had to block her. “You’re not allowed to hit her.” I’d say. Mr. G. would roll his eyes and ask why there’s a girl on the team. I’d be unable to answer, Alexander would be unable to answer, and Jane would just glare at us and say, “I wanted to play football but you wouldn’t let me.” I’d smile and say, “You’re not allowed to block a girl, tell your coach your mom won’t let you.” and then we’d move on to another topic.

Alexander would occasionally revisit how awful it is to practice football with a girl on the team. He’d moan about how it sucks when you can’t block the person you’re practicing with. I’d nod, Mr. G. would remind him to be nice to her.

They played a game today. It was a good game and the team dominated but I felt conflicted about it. I liked the little girl being there and I felt like her very presence was a victory for little girls everywhere. At the same moment I felt like her very presence ruined the experience for the boys.

I understand wanting the world to be equal. I understand wanting all the same opportunities. I also understand wanting boys to play boy games.

Other Women Would Ask Their Mother Why She Needs a Psychic

09.8.11

Texts from my mother

Moms are funny and mine is no exception. I’m not sure if I told you about the time she bought a house at a seance, or about the time that they brought a healer in to talk to the cat to ask her how she felt. The house was a good house but the cat felt like shit because she was 20 years old and they mercifully put her to sleep some time after that cat chat.

I also won’t tell you about the time that Mom was going to add an angled step to the staircase so the chi wouldn’t flow out the front door. You see, if I told stories like these you’d think my mother was silly. She is not a silly woman.

I thought I would share the stream of text messages that Mom and I most recently had.

As you can see I did not know how to hard boil eggs. I texted Mom and she texted me back with directions. Thanks Mom.

You can also see that Jane sent us to the poorhouse recently with her love of oysters. She loves good food, and my hope for her is that she has an excellent job one day or else grocery shopping will be her nightmare.

The first night we were in Mammoth there was an earthquake. We sure did feel it.

This morning’s text signals a return to her youth. Maybe Mom is looking for a new house, or perhaps she’s gotten tired of taking her dog to the acupuncturist and she needs someone to talk to her? I’m not sure why Mom needs a good psychic but I have a feeling it’s going to be a good story.

My Kid Lost A Bet

12.4.09

This morning Jane came downstairs in a skirt. Her school uniform is pants, shorts or skirts. Every year I buy a few skirts, and every year they sit unused.

I was shocked to see her in a skirt this morning.

“Jane,” I asked, “why are you wearing a skirt?”

“I lost a bet.” She deadpanned.

I know better than to ask more.