Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

In praise of Elizabeth Lambert, role model

with 7 comments

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You may well have seen the above video ad nauseum — the one in which New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert elbows, kicks and hair-pulls her way around the field against Brigham Young while losing 1-0 Nov. 5 in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

After the round-the-clock tut-tutting and screams of “catfight!” it’s no surprise that New Mexico has indefinitely suspended the junior defender, an action the conference supported. Lambert apologized.

To which I say, apologize for what? For being aggressive? For showing girls how to be tough on the field? For not being sufficiently “ladylike” for a male sports establishment? For doing things that, if she were male, would have been mostly laughed off? Like, say, this Oct. 31 eye gouge by Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes, which got him suspended by his team for one measly half against its next opponent, the far weaker Vanderbilt? (Spikes later suspended himself for the full game.)

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The above action is consider par for the course in football, where anything goes in a dogpile. So no harm, right? Spikes wasn’t a goon — he was tough!

My 10-year-old daughter has her first basketball game (with me coaching) today (Nov. 7), and I won’t say that I will plop her in front of the Lambert video and say, here’s how you do it. But I will say there’s nothing wrong with a girl mixing it up, playing hard, bumping people and other playing aggressively to the point other people are scared enough to get out of your way. (My 4-year-old daughter, it appears, so far does not need that encouragement.)

So Elizabeth Lambert, you might’ve gooned it up, and you might have had your tail forced between your legs for gooning it up. But also know you taught the world a lesson that girls can dish shit out — and that the world needn’t react in horror when they do. That is, as long as they don’t react in horror when a male athletes does the same thing.

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Written by rkcookjr

November 7, 2009 at 3:03 am

7 Responses

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  1. The double standard thrives. When I was fencing and didn’t rush over to comfort someone I’d (legally) whacked in a bout, I was excoriated for not being nice. Excuse me?

    Caitlin Kelly

    November 7, 2009 at 8:10 am

  2. All the kids on my basketball team today had an acute case of the niceness. I should show them the Elizabeth Lambert video.

    Bob Cook

    November 7, 2009 at 6:49 pm

  3. Can’t agree Bob. Many of those fouls were worthy of a red card and ejection – regardless of the chromosome mix of the participants.

    Tough, sure. Elbowing in the stomach, tackling from behind and pulling somebody down by the hair aren’t tough — they’re cheap and nasty, with intent to injure thrown in for good measure.

    johnbigenwald

    November 8, 2009 at 7:06 pm

  4. John:

    That game must have been officiated by pro wrestling refs. I would agree that, technically speaking, any of those fouls could have, or even should have, earned her a red card.

    However, I can’t help but think the reason for the shock and hullabaloo is because it was a girl doing it. And if we’ve learned anything from role models such as Bill Belichick, nothing is a foul until the refs call it. If Lambert in the NFL, she’d be Rodney Harrison and praised for her “gamesmanship.”

    Bob Cook

    November 8, 2009 at 10:47 pm

  5. While I tend to share your perspective on a number of things, Bob, I cannot entirely here. I have no problem with playing the game hard, and am raising my kids that way. But no way would I condone this!

    The behavior displayed by the New Mexico athlete, however, was dangerous, shocking, and so contrary to the spirit of competition. Was some of it provoked? Sure looked like it. But the player’s overreaction was disturbing, regardless of gender. I respectfully disagree with the suggestion that a male player would get a free pass for like behavior. Exhibit A (also from soccer): Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final.

    And how in the world did the refs seem to miss all of this? While the hair-pull seemed to be away from the play, a number of the others infractions clearly involved the ball. As John pointed out, almost any one of them alone would have justified the red card! Geesh!

    mattinsiouxfalls

    November 9, 2009 at 1:04 pm

  6. […] except for Elizabeth Lambert, sports appears to keep white girls’ behavior on an even plane. As for everyone else, […]

  7. […] hear the coverage of infamous New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert, you’d think that except for her, female soccer players are sugar and spice and everything […]


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