Changing Times

As I leaned down over the magazine rack to pick up the latest edition of Runner’s World, I thought to myself, “Man, the world has changed.”
I first started subscribing to the magazine in the late ’80’s. It had been around for at least twenty years before that. They used to have feature articles about N.F.L. football players like Lynn Swann and Roger Craig and how they used running as an off-season training method. Now I’m looking at “Can You Really Run With The One You Love?” and “Your Diet Qs.”
Believe it or not this grumpy old man once considered himself a progressive. I started running in the 1960s when it was called jogging and was using weights and subscribing to Weider’s muscle magazines even before anyone had even heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger. My mother always insisted that I started using weights at too young an age and that’s why I’m the only one in my family who is,ah, vertically challenged. I don’t know why I’m also the only one who is follically-challenged as well. The point I’m trying to get at is that in those days when I was jogging the streets of suburban Montreal and people used to stop their cars and ask if I needed help, when I couldn’t discuss with anyone else the virtues of aerobic versus anaerobic training, was that there wasn’t a female in sight.
Out running, I mean. It was unfeminine to exercise, I suppose. Don’t ask me why; I had a mother for forty-five years, have had a wife for twenty-seven and a daughter for almost fifteen and I still am unable to venture into the same brain vortex where the fair sex seem to reside. But back sometime in the late eighties a feminine tide started on the roads and now I’m only a smidgen of a tiny male minority. I’m not very familiar with Greek mythology, but if a male ever did appear on that all-female island of Lesbos then I can relate, although I haven’t a clue as to whatever happened to the poor bastard.
And have you been to a gym lately ? It even seems as if even most of the personal trainers are female. Where, by gum, have all the guys gone? I can’t be sure, but I’m told they’re all in their parents’ bedrooms, playing video games.
Now don’t get me wrong; I think that all of this was a long time coming. And of course it’s not just the sporting world that has seen this sea change. I can remember a riddle from the 60s. A doctor was called into an operating room to perform surgery on a critically-injured boy. When he saw the youth he had to proclaim, “I can’t operate on this boy. He’s my son.” So another doctor had to be called. When the second surgeon entered the room and saw the situation, the reaction was exactly the same. “I can’t operate on this boy. He is my son.”
And the question posed to us; how could this be ?
We scratched our heads and came up with all kinds of unlikely scenarios. But not one of us back in that Neanderthal age could come up with the obvious answer. The second surgeon was the boy’s mother. Today, of course, the majority of doctors being graduated are female.
During my teaching days all my female students were ready to take an axe to me when I innocently opined that there would never come the day when a woman would make the N.H.L. I also would bemoan the fact, when I was on the ‘things were better in my day’ jag that I never see kids out playing pickup ball anymore, that I was as likely to see that as a milk wagon being pulled by horses coming down Bank Street. So this past summer I was pleasantly surprised as I walked by a park to see three kids out practicing baseball: a pitcher, catcher and a batter swinging away at the plate. I stopped to soak in the rare, and for me, welcome sight of kids out in the park, practicing without adult supervision and obviously enjoying themselves.
And I was really impressed with how those three girls could play.

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