The integration of sports is a messy business. While there are indisputably supporters of allowing sports to have heterogeneous competitors, varying in age, gender, and physical ability, there are also those who feel the need to rationalize the concept. As we learned from rock climbers, rules can in fact change, however, it is quite difficult to get everyone on board with the same idea that leagues can allow for teams that feature different genders, and it turns into a very heated topic of debate. As we learned in the article about Caster Semenya, people reacted aggressively when rumors surfaced regarding her gender. Semenya’s case is one situation where people were unaccepting about the concept of heterogeneous competition; however, there have been successful gender integration in sports before, such as in the case of Ila Borders.
Although Ila’s sports career may not be the most memorable in terms of her statistical achievement in sports, Ila is far more memorable for her contribution to the world of professional sports as a whole. Ila Borders was the first female professional pitcher in a men’s professional baseball league, and boy oh boy did she have a hard time getting there. She started a young age, and from the beginning she suffered through discrimination as a female baseball player. However she eventually rose past the initial discrimination, some of which came from her very own teammates, and had a decent career as a lefty pitcher on the Duluth-Superior Dukes. While it may not have been the MLB, Borders was able to contribute greatly to the success of the team for her duration of her time there, before transferring teams. The inspiring thing, however, is that she was able to grab the support of the Dukes’ fans as well. She was not just a pitcher, she was a pitcher that people liked, one that people wanted to cheer on, one that was at the same level of other men.
However, Ila Borders is a rare case of integration in sports, and not one that is memorable enough to inspire a revolution that would eliminate gender borders. Such as we have learned in the case of Caster Semenya, gender and sports are things that require polarization. Having integrated sports teams would be a wonderful thing that I truly hope to see one day, but it is unlikely that America will see a bunch of Ila Borders that will collectively break down the homogeneous male representation in modern sports.