Discrimination and Gender Issues In Sport

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Discrimination affects a lot of different groups throughout sport. One of the most commonly known types of prejudice is the discrimination of race (blacks). There have been endless occasions when athletes have suffered abuse by sections of spectators attending numerous sports, however it is not just the spectators who hurl abuse, fellow athletes also take part in the racist chants and comments whilst on field and in competition. The sport in which this problems arrives the most would be soccer. When the English national team play abroad in European countries such as Slovakia, the abuse in which players like Emile Heskey of Liverpool and Ashley Cole of Arsenal are subject to is absolutely appalling. Emile Heskey of Liverpool speaking of the incident stated, “I wouldn’t put my family through any of that as an England fan abroad, you would have thought that everyone’s minds would have changed by now but it’s still the same.” (www.icnewcastle.co.uk)

Action needs to be taken against the racist abuse that is being hurled towards black players and this action must be more severe than the �13,000 which was handed to PSV Eindhoven for the abuse in which Arsenal striker Thierry Henry withstood in the match in Eindhoven in September 2002. Just recently I.T.V commentator ‘Big Ron’ Atkinson was forced to resign following a racist remark made towards Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly during Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat to Monaco. Atkinson was not aware that he was still on-air and therefore was left with no choice but to resign. On what was said Atkinson responded with ” To the people I offended, particularly Marcel Desailly, I would apologise for the comments I made. It was not an intentional comment, but it was an unfortunate one. I did not even know I had said it. I have worked with more black players, I would think, than any other manager in the country and I bet none of them has ever heard me say it to them.” This incident gives evidence that the problem of racism in sport most certainly is very much alive.

Homophobia in Sports

Homophobia is an unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality, in other words it is Discrimination against Homosexual sportsmen/women . This problem goes on in almost every sport in the world and also occurs in everyday life. One of the reasons men discriminate against homosexuals is that they believe sport is a mans game. They believe sport shouldn’t be played by women or anybody with feminine characteristics. Take Rugby for example, Rugby is widely labelled “butch” and “masculine” . Therefore if a rugby player came out and declared himself homosexual then he would more than likely be discriminated against and be labelled with names such as “gay” and “fagot” not only by spectators but also by fellow professionals and even there own team mates.

“In January 1994, there occurred one of the most extraordinary events in the history of women’s sport in Australia. It was reported on national television and radio that female cricketer Denise Annetts had been dropped from the Australian team and had lodged a complaint over her dismissal with the Anti-Discrimination Board. Her allegations of discrimination on the basis of her heterosexuality and marital status resulted in the sudden ascendancy of women’s cricket from media obscurity to the national limelight. This article provides an Australian focus to the growing literature on heterosexist and homophobia in sport. It examines the media’s preoccupation with the issue of lesbianism and the concomitant trivialization of women’s sport.

Most important, it considers whether media coverage of the cricketer’s allegations has reinforced existing prejudices to exacerbate homophobia or has prompted discussion and action to combat homophobia in women’s sport. In addition, it looks at how a decision made by a sporting body was used to question the nation’s anti-discrimination legislation. It is intended that this paper will contribute to discussion aimed at improving sporting opportunities for all women, regardless of their sexual orientation.” (http://education.umn.edu/tuckercenter/resources/bibliographies/homophobia.htm)

Lots of people in the world are unaware of the consequences of homophobia, in fact a lot of people are unaware it even exists. It Is totally wrong and out of order to be discriminated against because of your sexual preference. Homophobia in sport has a very interesting website that enables people to understand homophobia and communicate on the problems gay people have faced in sport.

“As co captain of the women’s softball team at the University of Florida, Andrea Zimbardi never imagined she’d spend her senior year cheering her team mates from the sidelines. But that’s exactly what happened when she was kicked off the team. And the reason for her dismissal, she says, was that she is a lesbian.

Zimbardi was a force to be reckoned with on the field. In 2002 she caught the third most runners stealing bases in the school’s history and was two putouts away from the school record. But then Karen Johns was hired to coach the team. Zimbardi alleged that Johns ousted other coaches and players, printed quotes from the Bible on the team’s itinerary, and criticized lesbian relationships before kicking her off in the spring of 2003. With help from the National Centre for Lesbian Rights, Zimbardi filed a discrimination complaint against the university, and in January the school, while not admitting discrimination, settled the case by agreeing to provide training to combat homophobia and to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policies.”

The likely hood is that there is more and more people out there who have suffered the same problems as Andrea Zimbardi. This website helps create an awareness of the problem at hand.

Gender issues in sport occur all over the world. It can be intertwined with Discrimination in Sports. Women in the world feel that sport should be played by men and women rather than just men; they believe that women can compete and perform just as well and in some cases better than men. Some men on the other hand, still have the view that sport is a game for men and that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, this was certainly the case in the 1950’s. However it has been going on long before the 1950’s, as long before that actual villages would meet in the town square to kick a sheep’s bladder around in a soccer style only without the rules, quite literally there were no rules.

Many men share the view that sport is a time to be away from women for example if they are in work 9-5 and then come to be with the wife and kids the only real time to interact with other men is on the football field or the rugby field. The see sport as a physical game and that girls would be too soft for sport. A lot of men see sport as the time for “boys to be boys”.

Some women feel that they deserve to receive the same amount of pay as men do in sport.

They say that they can even in some cases compete on the same circuit as men. Early last year the leading woman on the golf circuit was offered the chance to join the men’s circuit but she refused as she felt she would be out of her depth. The reason that women don’t receive the same amount of money as men is because the men’s games is so much faster and exciting and also the men’s game sells better. If you take the women’s F.A. Cup final attendance and compare it to the men’s F.A. Cup final attendance the statistics speak for themselves, women’s = 12,226 men’s = 73,000. The fact is that women’s football does not sell as well as men’s, although women believe that if they were given the sponsorship money and the marketing opportunities that men receive then more and more people would watch and attend their games.

If you were to take the world’s best tennis player and match them up with a tennis player in the top ten in world of the men’s circuit, the woman would be able to compete. The mans reflexes would be quicker, the man would be fitter and quicker across the court and also the man would be able to hit the ball much harder than the woman. Also if you take the Irish Rugby Women’s Team and play them against the Men’s Irish Rugby Team, the women would not be able to compete as the men’s team would be far stronger and tougher than the women.

Another problem that exists in sports is the derogatory remarks that take place during matches, competitions etc. These remarks are usually aimed towards homosexual sportsmen/women. For example when Marc Overmars announced that was a homosexual he was immediately labeled a “faggot” and a “pansy” whilst playing for his club and country. These remarks would not have been made prior to him stating his sexual preference.

Conclusion

In modern life as we know it, discrimination takes place world wide. The problem however, has been reduced and there are great strides forward being taken to eradicate the small minority of the worlds population that still discriminate against people because of there colour of skin, there sexual preference or there gender. Also women have more rights and are more active in the world of sports more now than they have ever been. This is due to the ever growing opportunities that women receive today. Since the 1950’s when women were quite literally stuck in the kitchen, the outcry for equal opportunities in the world has lead to women being more active and starting to participate more in all types of sport.

Another aspect that is and has been changing of the last 20 years is that sportsmen and women are no longer afraid to express there sexuality, 20 years ago it was unheard of to have a gay professional soccer or rugby player. But nowadays with the worlds changing view on homosexuals, sportsmen and women are actually coming out and stating there sexual preference. So we see that as the years pass by the problems of Discrimination, Gender Issues and Homophobia are slowly decreasing, although the problem does and probably will always exist.

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