American writer Todd Gallagher's recently published book, Andy Roddick Beat Me With A Frying Pan, answers the kind of sports questions that you might talk about over a cold beverage, questions such as "Could a morbidly obese goalie shut out an NHL team?" or "Would sumo wrestlers make good NFL linemen?". Mr. Gallagher and his team of helpers conducted experiments that tried to answer such questions, and he amusingly documents the results in his book.
One of Mr. Gallagher's questions, however, is quite politically incorrect to ask. It does, however, point to some reasons why Canada's national women's hockey team may never play as well as our national men's hockey team, a question that I suspect that even Don Cherry might be afraid to touch.
One of the questions explored in the book is "How big is the gap between male and female athletes?" Mr. Gallagher argues that a top-level male athlete and a top level female athlete are definitely better than the couch-potato of either sex. Certainly there are lots of valid reasons to admire female athletes.
That said, he argues that there is anecdotal and statistical evidence that the gap in performance between male and female athletes may not be due to "sexism". Efforts to allay sexual discrimination in sports may never totally eliminate this difference.
"The truth of the matter is that the gap between pro female athletes and their male counterparts is wider than the general public understands and considerably more severe than the sports media has ever presented. Not surprisingly, the gap is largest in sports where size, strength and speed are essential. Somewhat more surprisingly, there's also a significant gap separating men and women in the games that are almost exclusively skill based."
He then goes on to develop his argument for most of the chapter. He then finds an example that may be of particular interest to Shotgun readers.
He notes that the U.S. women's hockey team has played boy's high school teams, in games where checking was not allowed, and lost. He then adds:
"These outcomes aren't aberrations; the women's Canadian national team, which won the Olympic gold medal in 2006, regularly plays and loses to Midget AAA men's teams (sixteen to eighteen year olds)."
I wonder if Canadian sports reporters ever take notice of this. I doubt it. I also doubt that any reporters who may have covered these games asked "Why can't championship-level female hockey players defeat younger male hockey players who should be less skilled than they are?"
I doubt that even Don Cherry is that brave.