Thursday, May 13, 2010

Odds 'N Ends: Sports Edition

1) Sex Segregation in Sports

Over at The Science of Sport, Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas post some points and counterpoints regarding women and men competing together in sports. It's an interesting read, especially since sex segregation in most sports is such an unquestioned given.

Some argue that sex segregation in sports constitutes unethical sex discrimination, and to an extent I agree. It depends on the sport. Sex segregation in some- bowling, darts, billiards, and extreme long-distance running and swimming- does seem arbitrary and only reinforces the idea that men are better at women than everything, basically. However, in sports where physiological differences between men and women would be more of a factor, I tend to agree with Tucker and Dugas that sex segregation is probably desirable.

Although, given the degree to which men have fought tooth and nail to keep women out of athletics historically, I do think that some men are more scared of losing to a woman than they are of beating a woman too badly.

Anyway, in a point against allowing men and women to compete, Tucker and Dugas argue:

"[T]he very best women in history do not make the top 500 performances in track and field athletics PER YEAR. In swimming, it may be narrower, but consider that Michael Phelps is a full 26 seconds ahead of the women's world record holder in a 400m medley and you get the idea."

This is a point they repeat throughout the article and, while true, "let me just play devil's advocate here" and note that most sports' competitions don't involve world record holders. In fact, I wonder what the effect would be on girls if we expected them to be able to compete with boys instead of continually telling them that they cannot.

2) Sex Discrimination at Augusta

Writing at The Huffington Post, Ellen Snortland- whose book Beauty Bites Beast I reviewed here- urges Tiger Woods to advocate for an end to men's-only membership policies at Augusta National Golf Club:

"Tiger Woods has more authority and moral positioning to stand up for ending 'men-only' policies at Augusta than almost anyone else I can think of ... but of course he wouldn't, because his behavior indicates that, to him, women are playthings, not people to be taken seriously....

Hey, Tiger! Do I have an amends idea for YOU!

Use your bully pulpit -- or Tiger pulpit, in this case -- to insist that the Augusta National integrate its club further with women. Why? Because it's a disgusting bastion of male privilege and for you to take that kind of stand would be a triumph of morality."


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