Monday, June 24, 2002

Life expectancy of women athletes?

No, I don't have a study. I just had the TV on as ESPN beat the drum about Title IX and how it supposedly revolutionized women's sports.

Title IX itself is a subject for another post. For now I'll settle for linking this, and I'll note that once upon a time women's sports were discouraged because they supposedly caused all kinds of "female troubles". Undoubtedly that was overblown, but...

Today ESPN did a series of shows on various female athletes. One of them was on Wilma Rudolph, a track star from the 1960 Olympics. She died in 1994 at age 54.

Various other athletes and coaches offered testimonials on the show. One of them was Florence Griffith-Joyner. It struck me that FloJo is dead too. She was only 38 when she died in 1998.

So I thought of some other famous female athletes and looked them up. Mildred 'Babe' Didrikson Zaharias died at 42. Sonja Henie died at 57.

I couldn't think of any more in the right age group (60+), so the above isn't exactly scientific, and the women above are extreme examples even among athletes. But it struck me how young these women were when they died. How politically incorrect it would be if it turned out that woman athletes had lower life expectancies than the rest of us.

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