Things that make me go grump


That’s my disapproving face.

I’m teaching sports ethics this fall and I’m starting to think about aspects of athletic training and events that strike me as unfair. I’m putting on my professional disapproving face. Here’s some examples, the first two from sporting events in my own life:

  • Competitive soccer teams using our recreational league as their practise games. Don’t be cheap people. Just rent space for practise if you need to. See my post on women’s soccer and the norms of competition.
  • Cycling events that have radically different distances for women. The Centurion series introduced a women’s event. Great, I thought. I love riding in women only events. But it turns out the women just ride 25 km. See my post on why I think that just isn’t fair.
  • Sports costumes that rely on traditional gender norms with no choice. They’re different from running skirts because they’re part of an official required uniform. See Fit and Feminist’s discussion of skirts and women’s boxing.

What are some examples of unfairness in sports that strike you, either because they’re really unfair or because they hit close to home?

6 thoughts on “Things that make me go grump

  1. The way that certain traits or skills get priority over others in sports; I suspect this plays out in ways that reinforce gender and size stereotypes. Some examples: prizing climbing in cycling (as opposed to descending, cornering, stamina, other features of handling), praising brute strength or speed of hitting the ball in tennis, squash, other racquet sports (as opposed to technical skills in shot-making, having a great short game, etc). I haven’t thought a lot about this, but it would be interesting to look more closely at which skills in a sport are most highly prized, or what types of bodies are seen as most “natural” for those sports (and looking at the reasons behind those judgments). Probably people have done this already, but I don’t know the literature. But I should– do a post about this course sometime!

  2. Crossfit example: is it fair to give men and women the same time cap for events where they have the exact same amount of work to do as men, such as the legless rope climb from 2013? (Only 2 women finished)

  3. Shorter distances for women always annoy me and it doesn’t matter which age category but when I see it in activities for my children it really gets me going. I also don’t like the required sports uniforms. My daughter never wears skirts or dresses so I always have to find a way around it. And what about those boys that might like to wear a skirt or dress, what are their choices? I am also of the belief that girls school uniforms (which are mostly dresses) are an inhibitor to women continuing to play sports. They are not going to be kicking the soccer ball in the oval at lunchtime because they are in a dress. They then only do sport in regulated times. How does this play out in both the perception of girls as “ladies” in the playground and the possible reduction of the number of women in sport? Ah, I think you have opened a can of worms for me….. Thanks! 🙂

  4. That a female baseball, basketball, hockey athlete does not have the same avenues for professional income and that you can’t turn on the tv and watch the the equalavent of the MLB, NBA or NHL.

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