Sexism in sports

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When subjects like racism and sexism are brought up, many people try to shut the conversation down, claiming that such things are just in the mind of people who see themselves as victims. Usually, those not wanting to talk about the issues are people who have never, can never, experience such treatment and rather than admit that they could still exist would rather pretend that they do not.

I’m here to tell you that both of these ugly issues are alive and very unwell and dwelling in our midst.

The one I’d like to talk about now and I hope that all male readers are paying attention, is sexism, especially sexism in sports. Don’t stop reading or throw the paper down in disgust, fellows, this is a serious issue and until every one of us owns up to it and commits to doing something about it, we will continue to see it.

It has been in the news lately—albeit briefly and quickly overshadowed by other news, but we should not let that happen.

In March 2021, for example, a player from the University of Oregon’s women’s basketball team posted photos on Twitter showing the difference between the men’s and women’s weight rooms that the NCAA had provided for use during the March Madness tournaments. The men were provided with a well-equipped workout room while the women were provided a single set of dumbbells and a few yoga mats. The excuse the NCAA gave was lack of space, but this is the same situation each year and nothing has been done about it.

In college softball, the men’s championship games each year are played in top flight stadiums, while the women’s teams play in small stadiums that can’t even accommodate all the fans who want to attend their games.

Recently, though, the issue has risen to new heights, or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that it has sunk to new lows.

In two incidents involving women athletes the whole issue of unequal and misogynistic treatment of women was highlighted. In one, Paralympic world champion Olivia Breen who had just finished a long competition at the English Championships in July of this year when an official approached her and informed her that her shorts were ‘too revealing’ and suggested that she should buy another pair.

This despite the fact that the shorts she were regulations attire provided by a company that makes official sports equipment. As if that’s not bad enough, the European Handball Federation threatened to fine Norway’s women’s beach handball team for waring shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms during a match.

The aforementioned bikini shorts are very ‘revealing,’ so I have to ask sports officials, which will it be—show a lot or not show a lot. If you’ve ever seen men’s beach handball, the guys were regulations shorts and baggy shirts, while in addition to the bikini pants, the girls are required to wear halters that expose their midriffs.

Women athletes competing in the summer Olympics and Paralympics in Japan also had to contend with dress code standards for women athletes covering everything from hair styles to the cut of their uniforms, none of which serve any athletic purpose and seem designed to please viewers.

If male athletes were subjected to the same degree of mindless regimentation or were given substandard equipment or facilities there would be a general outcry and I’m willing to bet something would be done about it.

It’s time we all woke up and read the room. It’s long past time to do more than pay lip service to equality. Women outnumber men in most countries, so we need to stop treating them like a minority. Heck, we need to stop treating minorities like minorities. As for sports, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won more games than the men but got paid less, at the Olympics in Japan, women made up about 49 percent of the athletes competing.

But it’s not just the numbers that should make us demand fair treatment, it’s because it’s the right thing to do. – NWI