Don’t Play with Fire

Watch out for the woman that races with a bow in her hair

A few weeks ago a post of Alahna Sabbakha, a University of Virginia track star, crushing the NARP (Non-Athlete Regular Person) friend of her boyfriend in a 400M race popped up in my social media feed. Her thumping of the young man subsequently went viral. I guess for some people it is still a novelty to see a woman trouncing a man in an athletic contest like Billie Jean King did to Bobby Riggs in a tennis match fifty years ago.

Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in straight set 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to win the Battle of the Sexes September 20, 1973

Let’s nickname Alahna’s opponent Ken as a counterpart to Karen. He was a gift of humiliation and stupidity to social media. The race was a car crash that no one needed to apologize for watching.

Quite Confidence

Major media outlets such as The USA Today, Runner’s World and The Independent covered the event as a feel good story. Sabbakhan’s conciliatory attitude theorized that some male non-athletes think they can beat female athletes because, “We make it look so easy. People who sit on their couch … it’s so easy for them to just sit there and say, ‘Oh, I could do that, too, if I tried, if I trained for a little bit’ — not realizing how hard it actually is.”

In reality, Alhana’s race is a testament to the numerous challenges women face as they seek to establish viability in their lives and careers. Unfortunately, a satchel of disrespect, arrogance and hubris exists to marginalize the achievements of talented women like Alahna Sabbakha. 

Some people have an inflexible view of the world. Anything that does not conform to their outlook is dismissed. They believe in alternative facts and label the news as fake.  

Ken could have easily used Google to determine Alahna’s competency. I’m sure his friends who knew Alahna told him, “That girl is for real.” Instead, he ignored reason and set out to prove his righteousness. He even invited his parents and friends to watch him confirm their idea of male superiority. 

They’re Legit

This is not hyperbole. The world has witnessed too many inspiring women’s World Cup, Grand Slam and Olympic triumphs not to know women athletes are as skillful, tough and committed as men. A person who denies this fact is biased and misogynistic and their harmful thinking hinders the advancement of all women.  

TAMPA, FL – MARCH 05: Unites States forward Christen Press (23) dribbles through Brazil traffic

It’s called unconscious bias. The mindset will discount a woman’s grades and devalue her degrees. It magnifies missteps and disregards accomplishments. It explains, to a large degree, inequity.

Life hasn’t forced Alahna to see this side of the world. Her parents and coaches have aptly prepared her for success in the insular college environment she currently operates. As she noted, “I don’t compare [myself] to others. I focus on my journey and my progress and where I used to be and where I want to be, because it’s just going to waste my time and drain my energy to be focused on everyone else.”

Haters Gonna Hate

Sadly, the Kens and Karens of the world will inevitably intrude all our lives. In addition, their seemingly innocuous actions will perpetuate and reinforce their harmful beliefs. We can’t count on the Alahna’s of the world to win every contest and thwart their existence.

How can I read so much into a silly match race between two college kids? The orchestrator of the 2020 Muslim ban and other divisive, xenophobic and hateful policies of the past presidential administration pulled a similar stunt to Ken’s. Senior Advisor to Trump, Stephen Miller jumped uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet when he was in high school.

Some people viewed Miller’s move as an attempt to prove his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex. Others saw it as merely “a high school prank.” Regardless of his intentions, it is common knowledge that the jerks in high school and college remain jerks.

Most importantly, The antics of Miller undermines the legitimacy of women’s achievements and seeks to diminish their existence. His mockery of women isn’t a funny joke. As Miller has proven, his youthful misbehavior is indicative of more than bad judgment. It is representative of a rigid worldview that has no place for those who do not conform to it. 

Ken could just be a prankster. Maybe the beatdown Alahna gave him was enough to knock some sense into him. Maybe we just need to chill. Then again, “First they came for the communists

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