by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A piece that the Atlantic published over the weekend inspires me to ask a question I have asked before in these pages. That question is: “Does anyone really believe this?”
“Decades of research have shown that sex is far more complex than we may think. And though sex differences in sports show advantages for men, researchers today still don’t know how much of this to attribute to biological difference versus the lack of support provided to women athletes to reach their highest potential.”
Yes, yes, yes, the author has ensured that the piece is full of vague language, fluffy anecdotes, and puffy appeals to “experts say.” And, yes, if someone really wants to pretend that it isn’t totally bonkers, they can squint a bit, insist that all it’s really arguing is that we need more nuance in the way we separate men and women on the field, and then switch to calling its critics sexist. But that’s all guff, isn’t it? The Atlantic‘s piece rests upon a clear and discernible claim — that “separating sports by sex doesn’t make sense” — and it advances this clear and discernible claim by proposing that “researchers” do not “know how much of” the difference between men and women “to attribute to biological difference versus the lack of support provided to women athletes to reach their highest potential.”
Which is tosh. There is nothing in . . . well, literally all of recorded human history that suggests that sex differences in sports (and other physical settings) are the products of a “lack of support provided to women athletes to reach their highest potential.” The idea is risible — akin in nature to my insisting that, while I cannot currently fly through the air like a bird, experts remain divided on whether that’s the product of biological or sociological causes.