First thing, forget about polo. Left-handed people — make that left-handed play, was banned from polo in 1975. Nothing personal, apparently they’d had enough. So, too, with field hockey. Left-handed sticks are outlawed during the game.
I’ve never thought about left-handers and sports. I know left-handed pitchers are prized and left-handed boxers are said to have an advantage over right-handers. The theory being that right-handers typically fight other right-handers while lefties typically fight right-handers, too. Advantage lefty.
According to everybody minus one, lefties are, roughly, 10 percent of the population, a proportion that has remained constant, they say, for the past 10,000 years. And so it is with parrots, same 90/10 proportion, except the 90 goes to parrots who use their left foot to pick up stuff, and the 10 goes to parrots who favor their right foot. It’s a wonderful world.
Where does human left-handedness come from? ABC News reports that mothers over 40 are 128 percent more likely to give birth to a left-hander than mothers in their 20s. Shall we cast away fears of sexism and simply blame women over 40 for this left-handed curse? Clyde Francks (big-deal researcher focusing on the genetics of language-related disorders and asymmetries of the human brain), in 2007, reported the isolation of a gene (LRRTM1) that contributes to left-handedness. Research points to dad; the gene is inherited from the father’s side.
Mothers over 40, fathers of any age is a match made in the bowels of hell. But, that’s only the beginning. A 2007 paper published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress says lefties are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder than righties. Other ABC News slurs include the charge that lefties are angrier, more inhibited, more likely to be an alcoholic, more likely to be a delinquent or a dyslexic, have Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
A German Medical Association (GMA) article says left-handers have a higher risk for schizophrenia and ADHD. Not to overlook a higher risk of breast cancer. Not forgetting lefties are more accident-prone than righties and, while we’re at it, lefties might be more prone to fear. This is grim stuff and one wonders how these people survive and, frankly, is it contagious?
But wait! Finally! Some good news. Lefties are better at competitive sports. The GMA article says there are higher rates of left-handedness among elite athletes, particularly in sports that feature one-on-one competition, such as boxing, tennis, and fencing, but not, as you recall, polo or field hockey.
Which brings us to the Lisbon (Maine), Left-Hand Horseshoe League. Here’s a May 16 week-four dispatch from Team Rats leader Andy Capwell.
“It was a cold and rainy night of horseshoes last night at the Lisbon Left-Hand Club. Yes, we play in the rain! The biggest challenges last night during horseshoes were keeping the score sheet dry, keeping your hands dry, and staying warm. Throwing a good shoe just didn’t seem as important last night. Last night we did not play well.” You’ll get ’em next time, Andy!
August 13 is International Left-Handers Day. This annual celebration began 21 years ago in Britain and spread worldwide as you knew it would. According to the UK’s Left-Handers Club, “There are left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews... Right-handers are encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!”
How do you like it now, awkward right-handed slopsucker?
Okay, okay, let’s talk baseball. There’s a Steve Treder article on the Hardball Times website that goes into left-handedness with the kind of detail only people who pluck bird eyebrows for a living can love. I will spare you the agony and chainsaw down to two sentences. “The proportion of left-handed batters (including switch-hitters batting lefties) at the major-league level is always far greater than the 20 percent that a random sample of the population would yield; indeed, it’s generally more like 40 percent.” And, Treder says, the proportion of left-handed pitchers is generally 35 to 40 percent. Since Treder is using 20 percent as the random-sample marker rather than the generally accepted figure of 10 percent, his left-handed percentages are significantly understated.
Now comes a 2010 article published in the New York Times. The reporter, Jeff Klein, writes that, according to hockey-stick manufacturers’ sales figures, “a majority of Canadian hockey players shoot left-handed, and a majority of American players shoot right-handed.” Klein talked to Mike Mountain, Easton hockey-stick boss. Mountain said 60 percent of Easton hockey sticks sold to Canada are for left-handed shots. In the U.S., the figure is 60 percent for right-handed shots.
Diabolical. Women over 40, men of any age, and Canadians.