Juwanna Man was a movie made in the late 90’s that portrayed an unaccomplished male basketball player posing as a female to play in the women’s pro league. The plot was pretty simple but unabashedly gutsy in its delivery. A young man by the name of Jamal Jeffries had big dreams about playing pro basketball. When those dreams came to a sudden close he saw a loophole in the rules and morphed into his role as Juwanna Mann. His skills that lacked on a men’s court were above average in the women’s league. He became an instant star.
If sports fans have been watching the latest news and paying attention to social media they probably feel like they’ve traveled back to the future. There have already been a couple cases of transgender athletes who have sort of taken advantage of the rules. I say sort of because treading lightly on this subject is a must. And not so much to avoid offending readers but to give those who are transgender athletes the benefit of the doubt. It wouldn’t be fair at all to say that every transgender athlete has intentions of flipping the policies to favor their sports career. Surely there are those that have consciously decided to go through the proper procedures to identify with their inner persons without losing their desire to play team sports.
My point is is that there are plenty of glaring loopholes and that there have already been instances where we have seen the enormous gap in competition when a male steps into a woman’s uniform. There will be plenty of critics that will come and turn this article into a women’s power movement. But before looking at an opportunity to cut down the writer and article claiming male chauvinism, take a look at the process, a very easy process at that.
Here’s another not so fictitious scenario. A male track runner, who is declining in his performance on his college track team, is finally asked to leave the team. He loves track. He would do anything it takes to get back out there and compete. Then, an idea pops up in his head after seeing a couple of commercials on sex changes. Four very short months later and after getting the proper paperwork processed for identifying as the opposite sex, this individual walks onto the female track team at a different college. He’s an instant star. Since the head coach likes to win the fact that the system is flawed is only a second thought to the success story.
This may not have been the case with Texas high school wrestler Mack Beggs, but his case caused a nationwide uproar. Beggs was born a female but is on testosterone in his transition to manhood. He won the state title for girls after being allowed to wrestle as a transgender boy. Simply put, testosterone is a steroid and would give an individual a big advantage against their opponent. The controversy came about because of the way he won. In short he tossed his female opponents around like rag dolls and won most of his matches in a matter of seconds. There weren’t too many critics defending Mack Beggs, because while he seemed a very skilled wrestler, the advantage of the testosterone shots was obvious. Just one case of a loophole, but something tells me there will be plenty more.
Many will smile and shrug off the possibility of a man ever playing female sports. It makes sense. With so much money involved with athletics these years it’s hard to imagine something as twisted as a male athlete using the system to gain success and notoriety. And for those of you who would ask if this would work the other way around for a female to infiltrate male sports. That would be a big maybe. There are sports that require the gracefulness of a female competitor such as gymnastics, but that scenario is much too awkward and complicated to broach. This could all just be a flash in the pan. It could go away with a board of policy makers sitting in a room tying up any loose ends on rules with transgender athletes. The question is whether a small flare of playful opportunity turns into a forest fire of individuals bending the rules to benefit their sports careers.
Side note. Get prepared to see your first male athlete in the WNBA. Along with the first male player will come an outrageous fan appreciation for the ridiculousness of it all. Welcome to the age of social media and absolute narcissism.
Now aside from making three categories for competition, male, female, and transgender; policy makers in sports had better start to come up with a plan to thwart this potential problem. We may be a couple years away from things getting out of control. Don’t think for a second that there isn’t an athlete somewhere out there that sees opportunity in posing as the opposite sex to prolong his and her career, especially if there has yet to be a single rule against it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m eager to see the first female athlete go sub 10.5 in the 100 meter or do a 360 dunk, but not if it means having to constantly see the imprint of a jock strap and cup through their game shorts. Love it or hate it but in the end…it is what it is.