My softball moment

OK, the nets are all abuzz over gay rights advocates’ indignation  that the WSJ ran this  picture of Elena Kagan playing softball in the 90s when a professor at the U. of Chicago.  Apparently, softball = gay.  Who knew?

I had a personal involvement with another U. of Chicago softball photo.  When Gary Becker won the Nobel Prize in 1992, many of the papers ran a photo of him (that I can’t find, given that those were pre-internet days)  playing softball.  This involves me in a very important way because I was the one pitching to him.  Pictures of me did not make the papers.

I remember the moment well because, though he is the greatest economist of the last 50 years (so said Milton Friedman, the only other serious contender for the title), Gary is no athlete.  People were hissing at me to lighten up and let him hit, even though I was trying to put up the softest softballs I could manage.

Lots of people play softball on the Chicago Midway.  My observation of that photo is that Elena looks pretty good.  She definitely would have kicked Gary’s butt.

Becker much better in this venue than on the Diamond

Was the media secretly trying to imply that Gary Becker is gay?  I’m sure he isn’t, but then I’m not very sophisticated at reading these signals.

I, for one, happen to like playing softball.  Please don’t tell.

8 thoughts on “My softball moment

  1. The WSJ was certainly trying to say or imply something. There were likely lots of photos of Kagan they could have used – and they happened to choose one of her playing softball at a time when Kagan’s sexuality is being discussed publicly? It isn’t a secret that “softball playing lesbians” is a common stereotype. Indeed, many books have been written about it, including “Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend.”

    And I hope you didn’t let up on Becker – from what I’ve read, the Viner, Friedman, Becker teaching style certainly didn’t have them letting up on students in their price theory course!

    1. Yes–lots of photos that we’ve all seen already. Getting huffy about silly stereotypes just encourages their proliferation.

  2. I just think that the media should give Kagan a break and allow her to live her sex/personal life in private. Wouldn’t the world be a lot better if we de-politicized sexual issues (subject to what you and Marc discussed earlier)?

  3. Huh, I guess this is one I was out of the loop on too. I actually like watching women’s fastpitch softball, one of the few sports whose leading edge is dominated by women. (Women’s tennis, gymnastics, and figure skating are also more popular than the men’s versions.)

    And I know Jennie Finch isn’t gay!

    1. I’ve watched some high-level high school girls fastpitch games (sorta by accident). They were interesting.

      The annoying thing about girls’ softball is that oftentimes the girls do these team chants/cheers every time they get an out and at other times. It was like softball/cheerleading. My response was just “shut up and play the game!”

      I don’t know if this carries on to college or not.

  4. Sven, can I ask a favor?

    I’ve heard Becker speak about, and I’ve read in his old blog (which is no longer available) mentions of, a self-executing type of regulation, where the regulator has little discretion. Do you recall anything he wrote on the subject that I can review?

    I’m writing a paper in my field advocating a change along those lines and would like to read more to better align my thinking (with attribution, of course).

  5. I dated a softball player in college, and she was one of maybe 3 on the team that wasn’t gay. According to her, that was the way it is in softball.

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