Why hasn't fast-pitch softball for girls/women gone the way of ringette?

Ringette was a sport played by high school girls (and maybe at higher levels, too) until about 10-15 years ago in the U.S. (and maybe elsewhere, but I’m not sure about that either). It may still exist in some places, but it has faded away completely where I live.

Ringette was played not with a puck, but with a hard rubber ring, about the size of a large donut. Instead of hockey sticks with blades on the end, ringette players used sawed off hockey sticks, and advanced the ring by poking their sticks through the ring and sliding it along the ice or passing it on the ice to another player.

Anyway, the whole point of ringette was that it was an ice sport for girls, and it existed because it was an alternative for ice hockey, which of course could only be played by males. Or so everyone though in the Dark Ages …

But now, in these enlightened ages, high schools and universities have girls’ and women’s ice hockey teams, because … well because our society finally figured out that you don’t need a penis in order to play ice hockey.


I view fast-pitch softball as the summertime equivalent to ringette. Although the sport was not specifically created to be a substitute for baseball that females could play, it has certainly become so. Few boys/men play the sport, and there are no fast-pitch teams for males at the high school and university level.

So why, in these enlightened times, have not females abandoned fast-pitch softball in order to play baseball?

Because they enjoy it? There are lots of scholarships to universities for softball. It’s an Olympic sport and there are lots of organized fast-pitch softball leagues for both young and adolescent girls. So why switch to baseball? Especially when the pitching motion and batting motion are different.

Umm… not wanting to get into the deep water of difference feminism, but men and women are built differently and baseball players occasionally take hard shots to various parts of the body, either by the baseball itself or in sliding and colliding while base running. In my limited experience of seeing women get “hit” in terms of really significant body to body contact while playing sports or smacked by balls, their injuries are significantly more pronounced and slower to heal vs a man taking the same shot.

This is not to say there there aren’t women who could outplay men at a given full contact sport. It just that IMO sports that may involve really hard hitting body contact are potentially a lot more dangerous and less attractive for women than for men.

Plus the cap messes your hair.:stuck_out_tongue:

At least in the Chicago, err, greater Mt. Prospect area, it is relatively uncommon for males over the age of 16 to play recreational baseball in great numbers. Legion ball has no age limit but you’ll generally find at most only one team per town that has a Legion Hall.

What you will find, here anyway, is thousands of adult males of all ages and skill levels playing in summer softball leagues. 16" without gloves is probably the most popular, but you’ll also see 12" slow pitch and 12" fast pitch leagues, too.

Well, not to anger the feminists among us, but I know that I sometimes had trouble making the throw from third base to first base, when I was playing Babe Ruth baseball, and softball solves this problem by playing on a smaller field. Similarly, home runs would be practically impossible, if girls played baseball, on a full sized field. Softball allows all of this to be much easier, by scaling the field to the physical needs of the players. I suppose they could just play baseball on a little league field, but why? Softball is a great game, and if they WANT to play baseball, they’ve always been more than welcome on little league teams (at least, they were 15 years ago when I started playing, and there were always 1 or 2 girls in the league, until I finished.)

This dedicated 16 inch devotee just had to hijack this thread long enough to chime in that those guys playing kitten ball with a 12 incher and gloves are - in fact - playing a GIRLS’ GAME!

My mother has told me that when she was in college, at a women’s college, that they played basketball with one extra player and were restricted to certain areas of the court because they didn’t think girls could run all the way down the court.

Basketball, not, like, soccer, with acres and acres.

Was this common regulation practice, or just her school?

My mother has told me that when she was in college, at a women’s college, that they played basketball with one extra player and were restricted to certain areas of the court because they didn’t think girls could run all the way down the court.

Basketball, not, like, soccer, with acres and acres.

Was this common regulation practice, or just her school?

Girl’s basketball was no dribbling, 6 on 6, with 3 players from each team on either side of half court until 1970, or so, I’d say. Maybe 1965.

Dinsdale, what are you talking about? Rounders is a perfectly masculine game, and has been since it was played on the Isles centuries ago. After Doubleday’s alteration of the rules, it became no less of a man’s game.

Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with baseball. Nothing. the man probably never played the game in his whole life.

As to the OP, I think the answer is the size of the field, not the ball or the underhand motion. A baseball is obviously BETTER suited for a woman’s hand, it being smaller and easier to throw, and there’s no reason women could not pitch overhand; as I said in another thread, I’ve personally played ball with women who can throw like hell and last year played with a woman who - I am not exaggerating - had as powerful an arm as a major league shortstop.

However, the size of the field is SIGNIFICANTLY different. A baseball diamond adds 20-30 feet (depending on what level of softball we’re talking about) to the basepaths, effectively increasing the throwing distance for the shortstop and third base(person) by 35 feet or more. The minimum practical fence distance is 250 feet down the lines, way out of reach of most female hitters. While some women, such as the one I played against, could handle it, the shift in dimensions would put the game out of reach of many, many female players.

And the same can be said of men. I don’t play baseball, I play softball, in a co-ed league, and many men play softball in men-only leagues around here. Why? Because it’s easier than baseball; far fewer people could play baseball and be reasonably good at it.

Flymaster and Zsofia,

When I was in college in Iowa back in the late 80’s, the state still had several girls 6 on 6 high school teams. In fact, IIFC, they had state championships for 6 on 6 teams and a separate championship for 5 on 5 teams.

Just for the record, ringuette is still alive and kicking here in Montreal, as is softball.

Dodgeball is my favorite sport. That and Four Square.

Anyone else think fast pitch is one heck of a boring garme? I think the game is 99.9999% pitching- one dominant pitcher plus one lucky hit is enough to get a win too much of the time. I have nothing against a well played 1-0 baseball game, but fast pitch softball is tipped way too much against the hitters.

I agree 100% with MSU 1978, who raised a point that was one of my underlying reasons for posting in the first place. Would not baseball be more satisfying than a game in which “one dominant pitcher plus one lucky hit is enough to get a win too much of the time”?

I play baseball, and I LOVE hitting. There’s nothing more satisfying (with your clothes on, that is) than hearing, feeling, and watching a well-hit ball come off your bat.

I had never thought that the field size would be a critical dimension (heh, heh) to this discussion, but now I see that this is one reason why females might never be strongly motivated to play baseball on a “man-sized” field.

But that raises two questions in my mind.

First, the women in the WNBA play professional basketball with a smaller ball. There is no stigma attached to this, except perhaps in the minds of some Neandertal chauvinist pigs. Why not have a smaller dimension field for women to play baseball on? There would not (or should not) be a stigma attached to this.

Second, does anyone know the field dimensions used when women played professional baseball for a few years in the U.S. during WW II?

And I don’t put much stock in the idea that women are shying away from baseball 'coz it’s a rougher sport than softball. To wit, the comment in my OP that girls and women now play ice hockey, albeit with less checking than that in the male version. And plenty of other contact sports – namely rugby, field hockey, and soccer/footy – are played by girls and women.

My HS had 6 on 6 half court girls basket ball and I graduated in 1982. I think they have switched now. I remember some of our better girls complaining because all the college ball was the 5 on 5 full court and they felt there was no way to get a scholorship. Or really since in 6 on 6 half-court you only play defense or offense they were’nt really learning the sport.

But softball leagues are very popular for adults of both sexes.

I have never heard of softball being a female sport. Yeh I know they have their own leagues but they have their own bowling leagues. Does that make bowling a women’s sport?

I lived out in Wyoming for five years and softball is the sport of choice all summer long for everybody out there. There are youth leagues, adult leagues, competitive leagues, over 40 leagues, senior leagues and yes women’s leagues. I’m in Michigan know and every body has an office softball team. Some are co-ed some are all men and some are women only.

I just don’t see how softball is gender related. I don’t know of anywhere you can play organized bassball unless you are part of a school team or under the age of 12 (little league). So if you want to play a summer sport you play softball, whatever your gender.

Yes, but are you talking about fast-pitch softball for men? Where I am, this is dying out, thus making fast-pitch softball essentially a female game.

Slo-pitch softball is played by both sexes, and is very popular precisely because it is so easy to play. And you can drink lots of beer at the same time, which means it’s on a par with bowling in that regard.

(And yes, it’s spelt slo-pitch … it’s a trademark thing.)

People probably think of it that way, Degrance, because many high schools have a boys’ baseball team and a girls’ softball team (just like schools might have had a boys’ hockey team and a girls’ ringette team in the days before girls’ hockey became popular.)

I’ve known of men’s, women’s, and co-ed softball teams for adults, and softball teams for girls, but I can’t say that I know of any softball teams for boys. (Doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but baseball seems to be much more popular for boys, and softball much more popular for girls.)