Archive for the ‘ Sports ’ Category

Men and Girls

While trying to find my gymnasts’ scores, I came across this goody on the website of a Florida gym.

Since this gym is hosting the state championships, it makes sense for them to also host the meet results. However, if you will note, the first headline says “Men’s State” and the second says “Girl’s State.” Inconsistent, huh?

To confirm the official names, I went to the USA Gymnastics website. State championships are held for the “Men’s Junior Olympic Program” and the “Women’s Junior Olympic Program.” Technically, both programs are for gymnasts eighteen years of age and under, so “boys” and “girls” could have been used. However, per the governing body, the correct terminology is “men” and “women.” The website writer probably made an unknowing mistake, but these mistakes are what reinforce that gymnastics is a “girls” sport.

End feminist ranting.

On a related note, I will share this quote from a class I taught a while back. Always nice to finish with a laugh.

Me (to Beginner 1 class): Okay, girlies, follow me to beam.
6 year old student: Don’t call us girlies. Women get called girls their whole lives and that isn’t right! (pumps fist in air) You shouldn’t do that.
Me: I’m sorry. How about I call you beautiful young ladies? Is that better?
6 year old student: Yes, I think so.
Other kid: Well, it doesn’t matter. Our coach will be dead by the time we are grown up anyways.
Me: I sure hope I won’t be dead. How old do you think I am anyways?
Yet another kid: 32?


A Short Olympic Observation + My Mom

Yesterday, I was discussing the Olympics with my mom. Specifically, we were talking about the women’s alpine race and the crashes a few of the athletes took.

She is about to go on a ski trip, and said it made her nervous. I said it made me want to race down a mountain and fly through the air after launching myself off a jump.

And then, my dear, educated mother said, “I just worry about those girls.”

There we go, women athletes can’t be athletes and they can’t be women. They are simply girls who need to be protected.

A Short Olympic Observation

While watching the Women’s Alpine Ski competition on NBC this evening, I noticed the announcers (names anyone?), referring to the athletes as girls.

Curious, I pulled out a piece of paper.

From 9:18 EST until the end of the women’s ski competition, the athletes were called “girl/girls” five times and “woman/women” three times.

That broadcast was then followed by men’s speed-skating and snowboard half-pipe. Never once were those athletes called “boys.”

I realize this is an observation based on limited data. I’m curious what you have observed in the Olympic coverage available in your area, especially if you are out of the United States.

Sexualizing Gymnastics (part 2)

In the post Sexualizing Collegiate Gymnastics, I commented on the following image (later removed from the Utah gymnastics website).

I didn’t like the arched back, the obvious makeup, and the airbrushed legs. Somehow, it just seemed too sexual.

The level 7 gymnasts I coach recently received their floor routines. This is an exciting moment in their gymnastics career as it is the first time they have routines designed especially for them- routines that show off their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

Two of the gymnasts end in a very similar pose. One is 10 years old and in 5th grade. The other is 13 years old and in 7th grade. Neither of their final poses seem quite as lewd as the picture above, perhaps because it is in the context of a routine. The background is not edited out for emphasis. By the time they strike that final pose, their gymnastics and athleticism has been on display for 90 seconds.

Still, I don’t like it. I didn’t make their routines and I don’t have the authority to change them. However, when a college gymnast strikes such a pose, she is aware of the sexual implication. When the pre-teen gymnast does it, it’s as though she is “playing grown up.” Better than “sexting” or whatever latest threat to teenagers Dr.Phil is going on about, but I’d rather see gymnast present themselves as athletic young people, without adding a degree of sex.

This isn’t limited to gymnastics, of course. Dance and cheerleading are frequently home to debate about the appropriate movements and costumes of young people. What do you think? Innocent fun or pushing sexuality upon children?

Spreading The Love

Cancer sucks. I learned this when my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. I was five years old. Furthermore, cancer not only affects the individual, but whole families and communities.

The good thing is that some cancers can be detected early.

Danger S.

Stephanie (aka Disaster S.) of the Tallahassee Roller Girls was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. Despite quick treatment with radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer has spread. She is now receiving Hospice care, according to the event’s Facebook page. (You can read more about Stephanie’s story here.)

The derby community has rallied around her, founding Spread the Love, “a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to fund-raising in order to support those like Stephanie who are fighting cervical cancer and promoting awareness of the importance of early detection through regular testing.” Currently, the money being raised is going to Stephanie cover her daily expenses, although in the future, they hope to expand to help others fight cervical cancer and provide assistance in the prevention and detection of cervical cancer. Unfortunately, we live in a country where many do not get preventative care or simple screenings until it is too late.

Today, I attended a fundraiser where many of the derby girls shaved their heads, as the result of having met their fund-raising goals. It was a powerful testament to the power of friendships, sisterhood, and teammates. (NOTE TO SELF: Possibly way to expand research on women in athletics. Beyond gendered bodies, sisterhood and bonding?)

Low Maim getting her head shaved, having exceeded her fund-raising goal of $500.

It was moving, and I wanted to share.

And for women and all cervix possessing folks, get your pap smears. Yes, it sucks, but really, it only takes a few seconds out of your year.

Why I’ve Been a Bad Blogger

The last few weeks have been intense.

My beloved grandmother passed away this evening.

I’ve been struggling with some “what do I want” and “how do I get it” issues, coupled with some further thoughts on labeling my identity.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with my parents and the ex.

All of these are things I plan to explore more fully.

In the mean time, here are some gender related things that I have been meaning to blog about, but haven’t had the time or energy:

  • International Olympic Committee recommends gender testing centers, via AP. There are so many things that could be said about this.
  • According to a post on Genderfork, H&M’s Spring 2010 collection includes skirts for men. Yahoo is not so impressed. Personally, I like the look.
  • Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin teams up with Supergirl, of DC Comics, to create the “Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup.” Empowering experience for young female gymnast or disgusting corporate tie-in?

Sexualizing Collegiate Gymnastics

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m a big gymnastics fan. I’ve recently come to love college gymnastics for the publicity it gives the sport, as well as the opportunity it allows for athletes to continue competing beyond their teen years.

When the gymnastics word starting applauding University of Utah’s new wesbsite, I was pretty excited. That is, until I looked at the actual website.

Utah Gymnastics: opening page

The opening page features the gymnasts. However, it features them all made-up, displaying their asses to the camera. Wouldn’t it be more fitting for them to be engaged in their actual sport? Maybe they should be pictured with their hair they way they might actually wear it. Those cute side bangs are a  total safety nightmare. [Added 1/7/09: This picture is not awful by any means. It’s even sorta cute. I’m pretty sure my friends and I took a similar picture before our senior prom. It just isn’t the best depiction available. Why cute?] It’s not new, we like to glam up female athletes. But honestly, I’m pretty sure gymnastics already has enough glam.

It only gets worse.

Utah Gymnastics: Tradition

I’ll give credit when credit is due: at least this gymnast is engaged in activity. However, we never see her face. The primary focus of this photo is her butt and her legs. (That funky looking rash under her left cheek might suggest a doctor’s visit is in order). The individual’s feat of athleticism and flexibility is unimportant. It’s all about the body.

This one is my favorite. I get the feeling the photographer shoots porn for his other job. Arched back as though mid-orgasm, check! Bedroom eyes, check! Airbrushed legs, check! Asian woman to fulfill the hyper-sexual and submissive stereotype, check and check!

Utah, as the #2 ranked team, I’m disappointed. Gymnastics is already struggling with its reputation. Gymnastics is already sexualized enough, as are college aged women. Why not show your gymnasts for the athletes they really are?

Now this is impressive!

[Added 1/7/09: The “Attendance picture” has been replaced by a montage of the stadium and this still shot:

It might not be as exciting, but I am pretty sure this better demonstrates Utah’s high rates of attendance than the back-arched photo.

I’m still surprised when internet uproar leads to change.]