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Holt: Semenya deserves respect, admiration, not skepticism

first_imgUsually when an 18-year-old wins the gold in the 800 meter run at the World Track and Field Championships, she is celebrated. When her mark of 1:55.45 is good for the fifth fastest women’s time in history, she becomes headline material.Caster Semenya is definitely headline material. But not for the right reasons.The South African teen can’t seem to catch a break. Instead of being asked about what it’s like to win gold in a major competition, she’s fielding questions about whether she just might be a he.It’s not just the fact that she already seems to be in position to break world records at age 18. No, it’s at least partly because, well, she looks like a man. In all honesty, she looks like she should be playing point guard for the Madison West boys’ basketball team, not running women’s track. Her facial hair, muscular build and deep voice are all decidedly unfeminine.That’s fine though. We’ve all seen women that at first don’t look especially womanly, and there’s nothing wrong with that — unless you’re one of the athletes that lost to Semenya in the 800 meter final. In that case, you complain and compel the IAAF to conduct a gender verification test on the winner.Aren’t we getting a little bit out of hand now?I’m not saying that I’m 100 percent sure Semenya is a woman. I do not know whether or not she’s been pumped full of enough testosterone to qualify as a male. But until there’s proof otherwise, her accomplishments should be praised. And therein lies the rub: getting that proof.Apparently, determining one’s gender isn’t as simple as having them drop their trousers and having a look-see. There are numerous “intersex” genetic conditions where people develop one way despite their chromosomes indicating something else. It’s all kinds of tricky to get a decisive result, but worst of all, it’s invasive and quite embarrassing. It’s hardly something you’d expect to have to go through after winning a gold medal.But that’s where we are in sports today. Hardly anyone can get away with achieving anything even remotely impressive without being questioned about it. The steroid era of baseball has made everyone at least a little cynical.Remember that season-long home run derby Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa put on in 1998? Everyone was enamored with the chase to break Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs. In retrospect, it seems kind of silly, now that we know that the race was fueled as much by competitive desire as it was by needles.Fool me once, shame on you.Then we moved on to the BALCO scandal and the names on the Mitchell Report and even more heartbreak. Barry Bonds’ greatest enemy right now might be a potential asterisk and A-Roid found a way to make himself even more unlikable. The term “Manny being Manny” has taken on a new light and if Joe Mauer or Albert Pujols turn out to be juicers, then I might just give up on baseball altogether.Fool me twice, shame on me.It would be one thing if Semenya was accused of being on steroids. The potential effects of anabolic steroid use would account for her distinct “manliness.” As big a problem as steroids are in baseball, they have a more sinister history in track and field. But are we really that jaded now that we bypass steroid accusations altogether and question an athlete’s gender?Certainly steroids would be a more logical conclusion to jump to than gender dishonesty. Plenty of track athletes have been disgraced by their steroid use, including Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones. Semenya’s physique and sudden rise to success would seem to be a classic case of juicing, not a bad sequel to “Juwanna Man.”According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, sources say Semenya has nearly three times the normal amount of testosterone for a female. Yes that’s fishy, but inconclusive either way. If somehow this battery of tests shows that Semenya is indeed a man, she would be disqualified from competition and stripped of her medals on the basis of her having an unfair biological advantage over her competitors due to her maleness?Guess what? Sports competition is based on unfair biological advantages. That’s why guys like Prince Fielder and Adrian Peterson are pro athletes, while I’m destined to only write about athletes. As fans, we constantly want to see someone faster, stronger and better than the last guy.Unfortunately, we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t want to be tricked into celebrating anything prematurely. The world is determined not to be fooled again. Apparently it’s better to disgrace the athlete now, before they break any records, than to realize we’re just going to be disappointed again.I’m as guilty as anyone of cynicism, but as far as I’m concerned, Semenya won the women’s 800 meters legitimately. I won’t yet stoop to assume the worst right away, but the world seems to be adhering to a quote by our last president: “Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”Right?Adam Holt is a junior majoring in journalism. Think the scrutiny surrounding Semenya’s victory at the World Track and Field Championships is a legitimate concern? Send your thoughts to aholt@badgerherald.com.last_img read more

MLB trade rumors: Jays’ Marcus Stroman emotional after possible last Toronto start

first_imgWhen he left after the seventh inning, cheers and a standing ovation erupted from the stands of Rogers Centre, and Stroman yelled out “This is my house!” walking out.“Just thought it could be my last outing here,” Stroman told The Star. “I’ve always been emotional. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good tenure as a Blue Jay. Hopefully this will be my third year throwing 200 innings or more. I feel like I’ve pitched pretty well in the best division in baseball. There’s been no willingness from the front office to sign me, so I’ve just come to terms with it.” Related News MLB wrap: Record-tying second inning helps Cardinals keep pace with Cubs Stroman has been mentioned as a possible target for the Yankees, along with the Braves and Phillies.The loss was Stroman’s first since June 20 against the Rangers, ending a streak of five unbeaten starts. His ERA this season now is 2.96 with a 6-11 record.If Stroman is traded, he will join his second MLB team after spending five seasons with the Jays. He was drafted by Toronto 22nd overall in the 2012 draft, but stayed in the minors until he was called up in 2014. Stroman, 28, said the reality hit him that it could be his last start in front of a Toronto crowd and that he could be somewhere else by the July 31 deadline.“I realized that it could possibly been my last home start so definitely just wanted to show the crowd some love,” Stroman said. “Because the last six, seven years that I’ve been a Blue Jay, it’s been unbelievable. I don’t know what’s gonna happen here so I’m truly not trying to think about it, I’m just trying to take it day by day.” MLB trade rumors: Mets ‘open to dealing’ closer Edwin Diaz The Marcus Stroman era in Toronto might be over.Amid rumors that the Blue Jays are looking to move the pitcher, Stroman took the mound Wednesday night against the Indians, where he allowed one run in Cleveland’s eventual 4-0 win. MLB trade rumors: Yankees will not give up top prospect for anyone less than Noah Syndergaardlast_img read more