Playing with the boys

I recently read this article on CNN’s website: It’s about an 11-year-old girl who was told she could no longer play in her community’s youth football league because of her gender.
I’ll admit I have mixed feelings on the issue.
When I began writing the Emily O’Brien series, I knew she was going to be an athlete, a tomboy who was good enough to play with the boys. I chose baseball as her sport. The reason was fairly simple; it’s pretty much a no-contact sport. I didn’t choose basketball or football because I think it’s unrealistic to have a high school girl compete at that level with her male counterparts. And I wanted a team sport, not something more individualized like track or tennis. Baseball seemed the most likely sport.
So, given the character I created, I get the fact that some girls want to play with the boys, but when it comes to contact sports, I’m not sure it’s good enough to say that she should play as long as she can hack it. I’m not sure that’s fair to the boys on the team.
I know, I know, that’s not a common response. But as the mother of two boys who have played baseball, basketball and soccer, I’ve seen enough to question whether it is right for boys and girls to compete against each other in a contact sport.
Take soccer. In our former school district, there weren’t enough students to have a boys’ and girls’ soccer team so the girls played on the same team as the boys. Soccer can definitely be a contact sport. When two players are both jockeying for position, there is plenty of shoving and pushing that goes on. It’s not like football, but still it can get rough.
When I would watch my boys go head-to-head with a girl on the other team, I could see them back off. When it was another boy, they would hit hard and follow through. But when the potential for hurting a girl was there, they wouldn’t play as hard as they could. In a way, I was proud of that. I always told them I was more concerned with them being good human beings than being good athletes. I don’t think as a mom I would be proud of watching one of my sons knock a girl down to get to the soccer ball or tackle a girl on the football field.
As a society we send mixed messages to boys. We tell them not to hit girls but we cry foul when a girl wants to play on a boys football team but isn’t allowed. Movies and television programs show men and women fighting each other as equals but we expect our boys to know that isn’t real life. I have a hard time watching the X-Men movie when Wolverine fights Lady Deathstryke, mostly because Wolverine is a good guy and he’s beating the crap out of a woman. Yes, she’s a mutant who can hold her own and is trying to kill him, but she’s a WOMAN. I know it’s a movie but I wonder what goes through the mind of a young boy when he sees this. Does he really understand why we teach boys that men shouldn’t hit women? I hope so, but it’s kind of scary to see media showing just the opposite.
So when I read stories like this, part of me wants to say “You go, girl!” But the larger part of me believes that saying no really isn’t just about protecting this young lady. It’s about sending a consistent message to the boys on the team. If more girls wanted to play football and a girls’ football league was formed, I would see no problem with it; it’s not the contact that I oppose. As old fashioned as it sounds, I still think there are areas where men and women can’t really compete on the same turf, for both of their sakes.
So what do you think? Am I way off base?


Time for some tunes

As I’ve written the Emily O’Brien series, certain songs have made me think of the characters and their problems – the same way certain songs speak to me in my own life. I still remember a day about ten years ago when flooding took out our driveway, and we really didn’t have a lot of spare cash. I heard the song “Good Life” by Audio Adrenaline and suddenly my perspective changed from feeling sorry for myself to counting my blessings.

I was listening to my iPod the other day and the song “Streets of Gold” by Needtobreathe came on. I can’t hear that song without thinking of Emily and Alex. So I decided to make a playlist of some of the songs I associate with each book. Sometimes it’s just a line or two from the songs. Other songs seem to go along with the mood of the book. 

Needtobreathe is my absolute favorite band of all time so it’s no surprise that their songs pop up on my list a lot. 🙂 Enjoy!


Vengeance is Mine

“Streets of Gold,” Needtobreathe

“Winds of Change,” Kutless

“I’m Not Alright,” Sanctus Real

“More Time,” Needtobreathe

“Fly,” Jars of Clay


Buried Truth

“Fool,” Satellite Soul

“Signature of Divine,” Needtobreathe

“Grace,” Jars of Clay

“Through Smoke,” Needtobreathe

“Every Reason,” Smalltown Poets


Foul Play

“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” Relient k

“I’m Not Who I Was,” Brandon Heath

“Martyrs and Thieves,” Jennifer Knapp

“Let Us Love,” Needtobreathe

“The Older I Get,” Skillet

“Life on the Edge” Eli

Just curious…

Ted Dekker is one of my go-to authors for a good read. One of the things I like about Dekker is his willingness to try something new with his writing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But he’s not afraid to take risks.

Dekker recently released four ebooks that come together to make one novel, Eyes Wide Open. He released the first ebook for free, obviously hoping to entice readers to purchase the other three.

But the serial concept isn’t what caught my attention. Instead, it was that Dekker — a bestselling author — opted to publish his books himself through his own Outlaw Studios. And even though it’s none of my business, I’m really curious as to why. Was it the opportunity to make more money than the royalties offered through mainstream publishing? Was it to maintain complete control of his works? I don’t know.

I surfed the Internet and so far haven’t found an explanation but it made me wonder if other popular authors with a strong fan base might try to go out on their own as well. Could … say …  a Stephen King or John Grisham self publish? Dekker’s sales seem to be solid, though based on the reviews I don’t know that all readers really liked the serial concept.

I haven’t read the books yet; they’re on my “to-read” list and eventually I’ll get to them. It also appears that Dekker has more books planned for his Outlaw Studios. I’ll be curious to see what new risks he’ll take and what kind of success he’ll find.