The appearance of the gold-medal winning women’s hockey team at the homecoming parade for the Team GB Olympic team re-ignited a struggle going on in the head of Jason Hall, a 37-year-old marketing executive from Balham, between his personal feminism-encompassing moral code, and an encroaching suspicion he is turning into a grotty old man.
Ever since the glory days of Rio, Hall has faced significant mental anguish as he processes his feelings about the lithe, closely-bonded team of female athletes, their path to glory, and that funny thing their mouthguards do to their lips. The parade, accompanied by a story he happened to see on the Mail Online, brought the dilemma crashing back to the front of his mind.
‘The talent and commitment needed to become an Olympian and beat the odds is to be respected as a sporting triumph. Gender and physical appearance shouldn’t come into it at all,’ he insisted. ‘You need to consider the years of training, the practice, the injuries they’ve endured to follow a dream. Hours and hours working themselves up into a sweaty mess followed by an ice bath. Sweaty, ice bath,’ he repeated before apparently being distracted.
‘These magnificent young women have had to face enough judgement from strangers in pursuit of their goals without me adding to it with any thoughts other than amazement at their achievements. I mean there’s a certain type of man who would automatically assume that hockey is only a game for tough lesbians, which is outrageous stereotyping. I mean some of them may well be gay. Some of them could be in relationships with each other. Some of them could be bi-sexual for all I know. That’s really none of my… none of my… Sorry what was I saying?’
To try and alleviate the tension in his head as he considered the practical range of movement afforded by tiny hockey skirts, Hall turned to his recordings of other Olympic triumphs. However, his problems were not alleviated as he found himself transfixed by the slim, smooth legs and pumping lycra-clad glutes of cyclist Laura Trott, before realising he was actually watching the performance of her then-fiancé, Jason Kenny.
‘Oh Christ,’ muttered Hall, ‘now I’m really confused.’