Sports is another important field where Gender inequality is present in a big way. It has been a topic of controversy since a very long time to an extent that even Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Olympics, said, “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism isn’t cut out to sustain certain shocks.”
Since then, however, female participation in sports has come a long way. Though physically it is not possible for females to compete against male sportsmen in a game, every country these days have a female National team for their major sports.
Not only are women’s sports considered less important, they receive less coverage in media. According to the four major newspapers of US – the Boston Globe, US Today, the Dallas Morning News and the Orange County Register – women sports only total just about 3.3% of general sports news.
Not only in the National level, gender discrimination is widespread even in the college sports arenas. Not all high school and colleges have separate female sports teams or provisions for female participation in the male teams. Fewer scholarships based on athletic merit are offered to female athletes than male.
In the United States, the participation of female athletes is fewer than male, even in the primary school levels. This statistics is the same in both the urban, suburban or rural areas of the States, where age and social class contribute no difference.
However, the ratio of male to female participation in sports is minimizing gradually. Apart from some obvious ‘boy sports’ such as football and wrestling, almost equal participation of male and female athletes are seen in sports like soccer, basketball and baseball.
Even in today’s world where everyone expects equality, females are considered as feminine and weak, and not suitable for the sports field. It is often believed that sports make women mannish – an attribute which is not attractive to their male counterparts. This is one of the reasons that high and middle school students turn to cheerleading – cheering for the male athletes – rather than joining the team themselves.
This issue particularly makes gender discrimination in sports an important feminist issue. While sports and physical exercise is equally beneficial to both male and females, a society that is prejudiced and unwelcoming to anything new is holding them back.
Sports is a welcoming past time and career to both male and female, helps improve their team-work and leadership skills, boost their confidence in themselves, and most importantly, ensure physical health and overall fitness.
It is up to mostly a girl’s family and teachers to encourage her when someone shows interest in any field of sports. In a world where sports is generally considered as a male dominant field, a girl needs all the support she can get to break this prejudice and flourish.
Less TV and media attention are given to female sports, there is less participation of females in professional sports, fewer sponsorship is offered for female athletes. Except of a very few well-known female sports personalities, all the rest are male athletes who get the maximum media attention and sponsorship. Even in a smaller scale, some private clubs restrict female access to golf club.
Title IX, passed in 1972, is a landmark legislation that prohibited gender based discrimination in all aspects of schools, including sports. This gives any woman equal right to participate in any sports arena as a man. Also, under the Office of Civil Rights, any woman, or man who believe they have been discriminated against gender can file a complaint under Title IX.
However, after all the legalities, what we really need in to change people’s outlook towards Female Participation in Sports to increase the number of women in sports arenas.