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Six troubled trends in women’s sports (and what we can do)

December 28, 2009 – 7:32 AM

By FGN contributors

  1. Ignoring athletic development of girls. What’s wrong: Sports is the language of power and self-efficacy (a particularly urgent matter in places where females face violence and lack equal rights). Failure to encourage girls – whether in Texas or Bangladesh or on the preschool play lot – to learn the skills and rules join physical play puts them at a social, economic, and political disadvantage. What to do: Lace up (sneakers on little girls) and speak up for women’s access to athletics everywhere.
  2. The financial devaluation of females in sport. What’s wrong: Whether it’s LPGA purses, coach salaries, promotional budgets, or college ticket prices, paying less just because it’s women (guys, I’m sick of the supply-and-demand arguments; it IS more loaded than that) is fundamentally wrong and detrimental to women. What to do: Women, open your wallets and get in the game; supporting talented female athletes is a political act!
  3. Single-sex sports – especially in grade school. What’s wrong: Sorting athletes, particularly as children, by gender before skill or competitive level sends a message to little girls that somehow they shouldn’t – or can’t – play with the boys and enforces gender stereotypes, even outside of sports. What to do: Support co-ed athletic opportunities at all levels; if sports has the power to build international relations, why not gender relations?
  4. “Lady”-name-the mascot. What’s wrong: Until we’re ready to put the label “gentlemen” before college mascots (say the Tennessee Gentlemen Volunteers, the Gentlemen Blue Devils?) modifying only the women’s team nicknames creates, enforces, and publicizes a second class status. What to do: Call both teams by the same mascot name and bet most fans will know the difference.
  5. The pink-if-fication of sport equipment and wear – for females. What’s wrong: Nothing against the sprightly color pink, but the marketing belief that color-coding athletic goods in pink makes them “safe” and “appealing” to females is an affront to our sportiness (do we do this for boys?) and marks the vast non-pink sports universe as male. What to do: Push past the pink; spend your green on the real stuff.
  6. Hot pants for playing. What’s wrong: Uniforms that are more about sex appeal than athletic zeal (and free movement) mark women’s sports as entertainment of the wrong sort. What to do: No one says you have to wear granny rags to work out or play, but respect yourself as an athlete. Who wants to slide into third wearing hot pants (and whose idea are shorts in softball anyhow?)?
  1. 5 Responses to “Six troubled trends in women’s sports (and what we can do)”

  2. Fantastic list!!! Bravo to FGN– you nailed this one

    By Bobby Riggs on Dec 29, 2009

  3. Very inspiring!! You did a great job. I especially appreciate #5 and #6!

    By Megan on Dec 29, 2009

  4. So well stated! Very troubling, indeed. Let’s get on the “what to do about it….” maybe start a revolution? It is about time!

    By Katie on Jan 6, 2010

  5. Your article is excellent, I completely agree except for short in softball. As a former softball player (I’m actually playing this summer again after 5 years) I prefer shorts over those gawd awful nylon pants. I don’t disagree that women need to respect themselves as athletes, but it also about the comfort. The shorts are nowhere near as sexy as they are made out to be, first one would have to where sliding shorts, with lots of padding, another pair of coloured shorts to match the team colours, plus the knee high socks and sliding pads that go over the knee down midway calf. so really there isn’t anything sexy about it. They are far more comfortable and you don’t rip your skin open (believe it or not) like you would if you wore the pants and a plus is that when its scorching hot out you can pull the knee pads down and get some air. This issue is really a preference thing however you are bang on, thank you for a great article.

    By Brittany on Feb 13, 2010

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