Remember that song titled “Anything You Can Do” with its signature phrase “anything you can do I can do better. I can do anything better than you”?

That song, composed by Irving Berlin for the Broadway musical “Annie, Get Your Gun,” has sometimes been a rallying cry for women’s rights in this country. As a sports writer, I’m going to stay in my wheelhouse of talking about sports instead of discussing issues of cultural importance and national history. You could certainly find more informative pieces on that subject matter, anyway.

After hearing the song on television the other night, however, it got me thinking about the athletic landscape in this community. After working at the Hermiston Herald for a little more than a month and covering a variety of events, from football games to volleyball and soccer matches to cross country meets, I can say a couple of things definitively.

First of all, this community cares about its prep athletics. The schools, the coaches, the players and the fans all have a great deal of passion. You care, and that’s important.

Second, and more importantly, it’s evident that girls athletics are just as important as boys athletics.

It wasn’t that long ago the opportunity for girls to compete in youth athletics simply didn’t exist. We’ve come a long way since the 1970s, and if the fall prep sports season is any indicator of how seriously this community takes all of its sports teams, I, as someone who will get to cover a majority of the games, am in for a real treat.

Anyone who says a girls game is something less than equal to that of a boys is simply not paying attention. I can attest to that first hand.

As a youth athlete, I had a few athletic encounters with the opposite sex. The first was as a seventh-grade basketball player. I played on a local AAU team, and we shared a gym with an eighth-grade girls AAU team. Their practices ended just as ours began, and often times we’d show up early and scrimmage against them.

The games were always close, and we generally came out on top. Perhaps we were better, or maybe it was because we had a couple of 6-foot-plus seventh-graders who were a head taller than everyone else on the floor, boy or girl.

Another less successful, encounter came in high school. The volleyball program at my high school was one of the best in the area every year. Before and after the season often the team would look for opponents with whom to scrimmage in order to stay sharp when they weren’t holding structured practices.

The volleyball team would call upon the male jocks of the school to form a squad for the girls to play. That team would be made up of varsity athletes from the football, baseball and the boys basketball and soccer teams. As a varsity athlete, I was regularly chosen to take part in the game. As much as I’d like to say we beat them even once, I simply can’t. In reality, it was never really that close.

The speed and the quickness on the other side was too much for us. We never stood a chance. Sometimes we’d win a set, maybe even two, but now ,looking back on it, I’m convinced the volleyball team was just protecting our egos.

Anything we could do, the girls could do better.

If I were rewriting that song now, I think I’d have changed the line to “Anything you can do I can do too. I can do anything just like you.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the original. I think I’ll stick with my day job.

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