Imagine if four female Olympic athletes from extremely poor countries were told that if they wanted to compete, they’d have to undergo a surgical procedure on their genitalia—with lifelong health repercussions—to lower their testosterone levels. Imagine if they were informed by ruling officials that unless they went under the knife, their athletic dreams would go up in smoke. Imagine if the doctors also subjected them to procedures that had nothing to do with their testosterone levels, but were aimed at “feminizing” them, including “a partial clitoridectomy, and gonadectomy, followed by a deferred feminizing vaginoplasty.” This is not the plot of a new sports book by Margaret Atwood. This is an all all-too-true tale from the 2012 London Olympics.
The best young adult sports book that I’ve ever read is Raiders Night, by Robert Lipsyte. It details the dynamics of a big-time New Jersey high school football team, the Nearmont Raiders, and the ways in which a sports hazing culture seamlessly morphs into a sexual assault against a teammate. Raiders Night lays out better than a stack of academic articles how the toxic masculinity embedded in many football teams, when spliced with peer pressure, could lead otherwise good kids to choose silence when faced with a violent crime.
It seems that NBA owners thirst for the blood of their players. Unlike vampires of yesteryear, they don’t want these precious fluids for personal sustenance. Instead, it’s for the health and vitality of their billion-dollar franchise investments. According to an article in ESPN The Magazine the owners want the blood of their athletes and some may already be harvesting.
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