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Greetings to Start the Day

It never bothered me — in fact, it was pretty nice. Every morning when sports editor Bill Van Horne walked through the newsroom, he would smile and greet the female reporters with “Good morning, gals.” Always with a smile, he strode through the office to his den of desks piled high with papers and books.

Bill was one of the old-school writers who told stories on the sports pages that you enjoyed over a long cup of coffee. He was a detail man when he wrote about local athletes, especially the up-and-coming young players in high school and college. If he wrote about you, he must have recognized your talents and the kind of person you were. He appreciated someone with good character in addition to their athletic skills.

So when Bill would call us “gals,” I felt it was a form of friendship, never disrespect. Today, Bill’s greeting would most likely be questioned by some as not politically correct.

I imagine Bill would be devastated if he felt he hurt someone’s feelings with his morning greeting. Bill’s gone now and I can only wonder how he would approach political correctness in a world where gender has many letters.

Having grown up with seven brothers, I attended plenty of their sporting events. I was familiar with all of the bleachers at football games on local grade school fields, at Wheeling Island Stadium and at Bethany College. I stood in the freezing cold watching several siblings playing ice hockey (and later our own son) at the outdoor rink at Wheeling Park. I even managed to catch a hockey puck with my head.

At nearly all of these sporting venues, it was not uncommon at times for coaches to loudly chastise their players. And many of these coaches would call out and refer to their players as “girls.” We’ve all heard the remark, “You throw like a girl!” A more intense coach even called his players “ladies” or “sissies” as if those were the worst names in the world to call someone.

It’s true that females are born with varying physical strengths not always equal to their male counterparts, but I don’t believe the term “weaker sex” is applicable. During World War II, women didn’t hesitate to jump into physical roles and factories to help build the equipment needed to fight the war. Their sweat and determination to help their country while the men were off fighting the war were never questioned. No one called them the weaker sex then and shouldn’t now.

Since that time, women’s roles in this country have evolved from dutiful housewives, mothers, secretaries and teachers to just about any career path they chose — single or married, with kids or without. While I really don’t want to become gender neutral in the workplace or anywhere for that matter, I appreciate that more doors have been opened to us “gals.”

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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