You know you’re a hockey fanatic when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the game you just played or the nightmare you just had about having 45 players for a team that only requires 11. Maybe that’s just me. As an athlete and a coach, I’m often left wondering what influence does my gender have on my athletic opportunities? And why do I have to wear a skirt? And why do girls have to have club approval to play in the mixed team?
In the YouTube video titled ‘Gender Issues Sport Science’ it is revealed that “women don’t have equal opportunities to play, nor do we have equal pay” in sport. Everywhere we look, sport is dominated by male coaches, male commentators, male umpires and male fans. In an arena fuelled by hegemonic masculinity, women athletes are often overlooked or sexualised to ‘tolerate’ their participation in sport. The YouTube video ‘Gender Inequalities in Sports’ assesses the effect that the sexualisation of female athletes has on women as athletes, role models and supporters. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) reveals that the sexualisation of women in sports goes beyond the media’s representation of female athletes to where the very sports themselves deliberately sexualise women. For example, the ASC exposes that women’s beach volleyball “has introduced uniforms intentionally to focus attention of the athletes’ bodies rather than for any technological, practical or performance enhancing reasons. Women must compete in bra-style tops and bikini bottoms that must not exceed six centimetres in width at the hip”.
Inequalities in sport go far beyond the sexualisation of women, where the very gender of an athlete is challenged. In the blog post ‘Defining Gender in Sport’ Natalie Reed questions the efficiency of gender verification. She notes that “throughout the decades of gender testing being a common practice, it never once revealed a male athlete as a woman in order to cheat. In every single instance it was a result of intersex conditions”. Not only does the gender of an individual define their status as an athlete, but their sexuality does too. In the reading ‘Sexuality as a Structural Principle in Sport Participation: Negotiating Sports Spaces’, sport is identified as a heteronormative activity in which homosexual athletes are underrepresented in both mainstream and traditional masculine sports. As sport continues to thrive in our culture, it is important that we start to close the gap between gender and sexuality inequalities.