grew up in Minnesota in the 1960s and ’70s, before the passage of Title IX — the education amendment that provides for gender equity in athletics.
Had I grown up in my daughter’s world, in California over the last 20 years, I might have recognized that I was an athlete. Instead, it’s been the experience of raising my daughter in the more open, post-Title IX world of organized sports that has helped me understand that I really was a jock all along — and prone to sports zealotry.
I fulfilled my high school P.E. requirement with seasonal rotations of badminton and bowling. Outside school, I ran, biked, rode horses, and worked at a stable, where I could stack hay bales with the strongest of the guys. I learned to vault on and off a galloping horse, ride backward or standing upright on the saddle, leap from one horse to another at a full run, and play equestrian capture-the-flag in all kinds of extreme weather. I was part of an equestrian drill team that performed at summertime events like the Corn Days Parade. But I didn’t play team sports, since little was offered for girls outside school. And I never thought of myself as an athlete. In fact, my recreational activities made me something of an oddball. Once when I was jogging, a farmer offered me a lift. He assumed I was in a hurry: Why else would I be running down a country road?