Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Amy Shipley writes how 'jammers' among other advances saved male age group swimming

Amy Shipley is a writer for the Washington Post and she has written an article about the Gender gap in swimming: i.e. Zillions of girls and few boys, however, a simple piece of equipment is changing that. Amy Shipley knows swimming and she addresses nuances most journalist don't notice. For instance:

"... aficionados who rail about the damage high-tech suits have done to the record books can't help but admit that male athletes look much cooler in technically advanced, long-length suits than skimpy Speedo briefs.

Phelps's longtime coach Bob Bowman deplores the idea of young, developing swimmers wearing the speed suits, but he happily encourages boys to wear a modified version -- tight-fitting, thigh-length shorts known as jammers -- simply because they discourage self-consciousness.

Bowman, Dolan and others blame the traditional tiny briefs for nothing short of driving young boys out of the sport.

"I honestly think they were a barrier for getting boys into the sport on the entry level," Bowman said. "..."

"..."Ten years ago with the younger kids, we'd have 16 or 20 girls and only three boys," Bowman said. "It's a difficult environment when you have those ratios. ..."

The image above is from the Speedo site. Michael Phelps has obviously been cut out and dropped in front to the L.A. Coliseum Pool, the pool where the 1932 Olympics took place.

UPDATE - I have to include this note from Scott of the Canuckswimmer:

I don't agree with this. For one: the boy/girl ratio isn't anywhere near that - research I've done for a long pending post shows shows in 1992 the ratio was 4:5 in favor of girls while today it's closer to 2:3 (source: USA Swimming).

This means the discrepancy in participation has grown in the years jammers were gaining in popularity. Furthermore the actual numbers of males in club swimming have increased by nearly 28,000 over that period. Ergo jammers aren't the reason.

I'd like to add that I personally can't believe there would be many boys under the age of twelve who would be self-conscious about their suits; and for those over twelve I'd have to believe the attraction of being in a sport dominated by girls wearing wet skin tight suits would be more of a draw than worrying about showing off your 'package' (other than those embarrassing situations which attractive girls wearing wet skin tight swimsuits can bring on).

The real reason for the increasing number of girls vis-a-vis boys in swimming is due to the relative lack of high profile sports available to girls compared to those available to boys and a society which now encourages women to participate in sports. Consequently it is entirely logical to see swimming take in more girls than boys in recent years.

8 comments:

Ahelee said...

This is so true about jammers!

Teenaged guys DO NOT want to wear tiny lycra swim suits - or swim caps.
They will and do avoid the sport because they feel this is required.

And actually, most would rather wear their surf shorts instead of lycra jammers...

But once they are in the water and want to get faster, the baggy shorts are the first thing to go!

Tony Austin said...

What's ironic is that jammers are just as revealing as briefs.

Perhaps it is not about how revealing the briefs are but that rather that they don't look like "bikini bottoms?"

Scott said...

I don't agree with this. For one the boy/girl ratio isn't anywhere near that - research I've done for a long pending post shows shows in 1992 the ratio was 4:5 in favor of girls while today it's closer to 2:3 (source: USA Swimming). This means the discrepancy in participation has grown in the years jammers were gaining in popularity. Furthermore the actual numbers of males in club swimming have increased by nearly 28,000 over that period. Ergo jammers aren't the reason. I'd like to add that I personally can't believe there would be many boys under the age of twelve who would be self-conscious about their suits; and for those over twelve I'd have to believe the attraction of being in a sport dominated by girls wearing wet skin tight suits would be more of a draw than worrying about showing off your 'package' (other than those embarrassing situations which attractive girls wearing wet skin tight swimsuits can bring on). The real reason for the increasing number of girls vis-a-vis boys in swimming is due to the relative lack of high profile sports available to girls compared to those available to boys and a society which now encourages women to participate in sports. Consequently it is entirely logical to see swimming take in more girls than boys in recent years.

Tony Austin said...

I am not only going to publish it, I am going to include it in the post

danthefiddleman said...

Scott says that he "personally can't believe there would be many boys under the age of twelve who would be self-conscious about their suits...." I have to disagree. My 10-year-old son has told me that he wouldn't be caught dead in a standard speedo. And I'd guess that most if not all of his buddies feel exactly the same.

Tony Austin said...

Did he say why? Is it the form or how revealing?

Scott said...

Ah Mr. Danthefiddleman, I think you're confusing current stylistic leanings with modesty. Your son would likely have the same reaction if you insisted he dressed in a jacket, dress pants, Oxford button down shirt and tie to go to school rather than his normal garb. NBA's long shorts and rap style have encouraged adoption of the longer jammers but I would take the position this has nothing to do with the self-consciousness implied by the Washington post article. Not when I see see boys prominently displaying most of their underwear on the street.

danthefiddleman said...

My son didn't say why he wouldn't wear the suits -- and I'm out of town right now, so can't ask -- but I think that Scott's probably right. My son definitely wants to be fashionable. He does love to dress up in a suit and tie, though.

When I get home, I'll ask him for details about speedo wear.