Sunday, February 10, 2013

When Your Little Girl Plays Rugby

The bumper sticker my daughter made
for her high-school team.
My daughter loves playing rugby.

It’s a rough sport, sometimes described as “football without helmets,” but unlike football, a rugby game doesn’t stop when someone’s been tackled. If a player is tackled before she can toss the ball to a teammate, she is supposed to place the ball on her team’s side of the field, then cover her head. Why? Because both teams are going to rush over and fight for the ball, over her prone body, using their feet, in something called a ruck.

It looks horrible.

But I’m not so sure it is. Rugby prides itself on being rough, but it’s not like my daughter is driving a race car at 100 mph or riding a race horse at 40, or even crashing into other players, protected by helmet, face guard and extensive pads, like football players are. The protective gear in rugby is minimal, generally just a mouthguard. The kids are trying to pull each other down, using their bare hands. Aggressive, but on a human scale.

Sports in general are rough. This came as news to me because I never played. I am bemused when my daughter, after a game (of soccer or rugby), happily catalogues her bruises and scrapes. “Badges of honor,” she calls them.

Something else slithers across my mind. Are people going to be mean to her about her “unfeminine” sport? She spends her days surrounded by high-school girls, many of whom are deeply insecure and deeply competitive, always watching each other for the slightest deviation from a standard they don’t understand is impossible for any of them to live up to, always looking to take each other down. Not physically, but with words. Seems far worse than getting tackled.

Maybe all girls should play rugby.

(This, by the way, is a nice personal essay by a woman about why she loves to play rugby.)

No comments:

Post a Comment