Women competing against men

In most of the popular sports played around the world it is not surprising that generally men perform better than women. It is basic physiology that men are on average taller, stronger and faster, resulting in superior sporting performance. However, in sports that are predominantly skill based, it is possible for women to compete favorably with the men, and there are plenty of examples of that happening.

At the summer Olympic Games there are two sports where men and women compete directly against each other, in equestrian and in one of the sailing events. In both of these sports, performance is not limited by physical abilities, skill is the predominant attribute for success.

There are many other sports in which skill is predominantly the main factor of success, which you can realistically see women being competitive with the men. Sports such as darts, archery, shooting, auto-racing and tenpin bowling could potentially have women competing at the elite level against the men, however it is not often the case. This is because there are other factors other than physiology and skill which determine the success of women on the sporting field. The lack of opportunity and encouragement of women to play sport in many parts of the world results in fewer women playing sport, resulting in a smaller talent pool and therefore less chance of women being successful.

Over the years, several women have taken on the men at their own game, with varying success. At a swimming meet in 1922, female backstroker Sybil Bauer finished the 440-yard event in a time of 6:24.8, which was about four seconds ahead of the then men's world record mark. In more recent times, Danica Patrick in auto racing and Kelly Kulick on the Professional Bowlers Association tour have shown that women can compete and win on an individual basis.

In tennis, there were the well-known matches of Bobby Riggs against Margaret Court and Billie Jean King. In golf, several high profile female players have played the occasional tournament against the men, and have been mostly unsuccessful. In the physical sport of ice hockey, a few women have joined the men in professional leagues. Surprisingly, in the few high profile boxing matches between men and women, they have not ended well for the men.

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