The sex that plays fair?

An injury during a college women's softball game results in an all-too-rare display of good sportsmanship.

By Kate Harding
May 2, 2008 8:25PM (UTC)
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You might have heard about this story already, but it's too good not to share here. Last Saturday, Western Oregon University senior Sara Tucholsky hit what should have been a three-run homer -- the first of her career as a high school and college softball player -- in a game against Central Washington. But before she made it past first base, she hurt her knee and couldn't stand up anymore, let alone run.

According to the rules (at least as far as anyone there knew), if Tucholsky couldn't make it around the bases by herself, all her team could do was replace her with a pinch runner -- meaning Tucholsky would be credited only with a single, after hitting the ball over the dang fence. This didn't sit well with Mallory Holtman, a member of the opposing team, who asked if there were any rules against her helping Tucholsky out. It turned out there weren't, and so Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace carried Tucholsky around the bases, stopping to let her touch each bag with her good leg.


A few killjoys have complained that this lovely example of sportsmanship is actually an unlovely example of why women aren't competitive enough to be taken seriously as athletes, but I would argue the opposite. It was precisely because Tucholsky was too competitive to give up on the run even if she had to crawl (which she did, to first base) that this went down as it did, and I assume Holtman and Wallace's empathy derived from their own knowledge of how very pissed they'd be if such an awesome hit hadn't resulted in a homer. (Holtman is the all-time home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.) A competitive spirit doesn't preclude a sense of justice.

Besides, as Wolves' coach Pam Knox points out, assuming this is some sort of girly thing isn't giving men enough credit. "Some people are trying to say this is something men would never have done," she said. "I think that's an unfair statement. You would hope guys would have the character to do the right thing at the right time." (Via Shakesville.)

Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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