Women’s Wait

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In CrossFit, Rest Day/Theory

July 07, 2013

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In this two-part series, Andréa Maria Cecil explores women in sports and what supporters and critics have to say about the contentious Title IX legislation. In Part 1, Cecil investigates the past, present and future of female athletes.

In sixth grade, Jean Stewart hit a boy. And she didn’t just hit him; she “knocked his block off.”

Her father had taught his daughter a little about athletics and boxing. So when young Jean encountered the boy in her Los Angeles neighborhood who said girls didn’t know how to box, it seemed like a good time to teach him a lesson.

Stewart eventually channeled that athleticism and ornery nature into softball and what was then nine-court basketball in junior high school; she played field hockey in her high-school years. But that’s where it ended for most women of that era. Professional female athletes weren’t the norm.

Today, Stewart is widely known in the CrossFit community as “the deadlifting grandma,” able to hoist 153 lb. off the ground.

Certainly women around the globe have gained ground in sports over the years. But to say their struggle is over is missing much of the story.

It wasn’t until the 1984 Summer Olympics that women were allowed to run marathons—18 years after Roberta Gibb hid behind a bush before sneaking onto the course to become the first known woman to run the Boston Marathon. Sixteen years later, women were finally allowed to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic level.

But it was only three years ago that female ski jumpers petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada to be included in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The court denied their entry. And at the 2012 Olympics, women competed in boxing for the first time—15 years after the British Boxing Board of Control said women’s menstrual cycles made them too unstable to participate in the sport.

All this begs the question: are women really treated equally in sports?

In Part 2, Cecil investigates the effects of Title IX on women and men and explains CrossFit’s approach.

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3 Comments on “Women’s Wait”


wrote …

Of course not, there is no equal treatment for female athletes, and you simply must see the awards granted to some and others, at least in the sport that I practiced for years the bodybuilding, the Mr. Olympia receives over 100 000 dollars as prize and the Ms. Olympia at most 30, 000 dollars and the same happens in other sports, so it is clear that there is no equality though the effort is often higher for women because we do not have as much testosterone as men


wrote …

It's unfortunate but when it comes to televised sports, ratings rules the decision making process. TV networks won't even look at anything unless there are enough people in the venues to make it worth their while. If there are no butts in the seats, they won't televise it. And it they don't televise it or there is no market potential, sponsors won't advertise.

As for coverage in network news and sports channels, there's no reason why they shouldn't cover it. Editors and producers should realize that there are people out there interested in hearing about things they themselves may not be interested in. For them to say "no one wants to see that" or "it has too small of a fanbase for us to cover it" means they are speaking for other people. I guess they think they would lose viewership if they started putting more emphasis on women's sports. You don't want those type of pinheaded viewers anyway. Their retort would probably be "hey, we put a couple on the anchor desk in front of the camera and a few on the sidelines and courtside. Isn't that enough?"

As for pay, I guess that's related to how much revenue the organizations generate from ticket sales, merchandising and whatever else goes into making money for a sports team. That gets back to the whole TV thing. Smaller fanbase = fewer tickets sales = less coverage = less money. An unfortunate reality.


wrote …

This country is over 50% female. If females want equal money, awards, coverage, etc. in sports, go buy some tickets. Be part if the solution. Hampster diving would be televised if it made enough money. It's not about inequality, it's just that less people show their interest in terms of dollars for female athletics. The reality behind that reason is that people want to see the best, and the best tend to be males. If their were true equality of treatment, then all sports would be co-ed tryouts. But then there would likely be very few females playing at the college or pro level. The fact that there even is a separate category for females is an inequality. You can't have separate standards and segregation and think that is somehow going to lead to equality. And it isn't really meant to.

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