Lauren Silberman is a purported pioneer for being the first woman to try out for the National Football League as a place kicker. She kicked the ball twice—once for 19 yards and again for 13—the sum of which is less than half the distance of the average NFL kick off. This disastrous try out wasted much time, and was injurious to both Silberman and the feminist movement—the latter quite seriously.
Such nonevents, because they attract the equality obsessed media, muffle accomplishments of a far grander scale. Chhurim Sherpa is a Nepali woman who, last week, became the first woman to have surmounted Mt. Everest twice within seven days. It is worth repeating. She scaled a mountain that is five and half miles tall, littered with corpses and subject to hurricane force winds, twice, within seven days. For appending this chapter to the list of historic female firsts, she received a brief paragraph in Reuters.
On the other hand, the only thing historic about Silberman’s try out was how terrible it actually was. Was it for publicity? Maybe, although evidence suggests that she may suffer from delusions. Asked about her performance, she said “They certainly didn’t go as far as they were in practices…The distance wasn’t there, but hopefully the scouts will notice my technique. It’s not always length.” Right.
Allow reality to sort things out. According to a Yahoo Sports article published about two years ago, of the 854,000 high school athletes, only about five percent will progress to play at the college level. Of that five percent about 850 will get a shot at professional football or baseball. To make it is only half the battle, however, because many players never graduate from the practice squad to earn a starting spot. To borrow a quote from George Will, those 1700 or so NFL players that actually travel with the team (and hence potentially play) are the “winners of life’s lottery” because they athletically surpass the average male by about four standard deviations.
Though athleticism as a concept cannot be rigorously defined, this picture allows for a glimpse of the biological deficits that keep women out of the NFL. Silberman is neither taller nor thicker than the men measuring her. She may not have tried out for linebacker, but she seems woefully ignorant of the fact that place kickers comprise a last line of defense should a pin ball like Josh Cribbs go bouncing off blockers and hit a hole in the field. Silberman, who played soccer, has never had to tackle. She did not warm up before kicking. She did not know how to place the ball on the tee.
Nothing theoretically forbids a woman to play professional football, and however unlikely, I welcome the day some progeny of Athena descends to play on the gridiron. As for Silberman, any rational feminist should be appalled at the ditzy and girlish naiveté she exhibited at her try out; it represents the very image they have fought to overcome.