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BERT MYER,
EDITOR, USCA CROQUET BULLETIN


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"You have to practice to be good. To practice, you have to want to be good."

I've read Gail's piece and Richard's piece and several others on the subject of "women's inequality" in croquet and, quite frankly, the discussions, particularly by women, in women's own words, remind me of a current debate in the United States about entitlements: The demand for the "right to equal opportunity" has evolved into a strident insistence for the "right to equal results."

In croquet it's quite simple. Women have to play more if they want to be good, competitive championship-level players. They may not want to be, and that's okay (the pyschologists and sociologists among us can debate the whys and wherefores of that). I, for one, think those lacking this realization should stop complaining that they are not respected or that they are being unfairly denied access to competitive events. It's unwarranted complaining and has caused fruitless debates. There are levels of the game - for men and women - where one can find contentment. If one doesn't find contentment, the path upward (or downward) is usually clear.


"In general, men players who have experienced similar devastation in events for which they really are not qualified tend to go out afterwards and practice and learn from the experience."

I know of several good women players who claim they are not respected and are shut out of championship-level divisions at tournaments. They mumble that it's because they're women. That is just not the case. These same poor souls, when they do gain entry, get beaten badly or are so nervous they don't perform well. Then they stomp off in a snit and complain they've been discriminated against, that life is unfair, that the system is rigged. (Admittedly, some men do this, too, but their grumbling has failed to become a "cause.")

In general, men players who have experienced similar devastation in events for which they really are not qualified tend to go out afterwards and practice and learn from the experience. They also more readily laugh at their ineptness, foolishness or the false pride which drove their participation. And, lo and behold, they get better! They also - perhaps more rapidly - understand the challenges before them; they realize that championship-level croquet is very, very demanding and that others may be far, far more skilled than they are.

Practice, in fact, is precisely the advice good women players like Patti Dole and Debbie Cornelius give to their colleagues. In several back issues of the USCA Croquet Annual, for example, you will find these same refrains - of complaint and sage advice - in the words of the women authors and those they have interviewed. Pyschological considerations aside, the conclusions are remarkedly consistent, for men and women alike. You have to practice to be good. You have to want to be good to practice. The good players practice - and play instead of talking about it!

--Bert Myer

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