Sport far from ideal of equity

International Women’s Day was Tuesday.

So as with most things dealing with the celebration of women’s accomplishment and the issues women continue to face in terms of equality, this column is a day late and likely a dollar short. The hope remains that words on paper may make a difference.

The sad reality is when it comes to gender equality and more to the point getting anyone to take action to change gender imbalance, words go in one ear and out the other.

But like the women who gave up just about everything they had for the feminist movement, a movement that’s interchangeable with that for gender equality, giving up simply isn’t an option. Anyone who cares about a fair and prosperous society has a stake in the feminist and gender equality movement regardless of gender. Any one who wants their children or grandchildren to be given equal opportunities to be successful in life has a stake in the feminist and gender equality movement.

In the world of sports, we are far from equal representation in terms of reporting and jobs in the media but also in terms of respect afforded women who work in the field of reporting and who work administratively in athletics.

Diversity is even further removed from the core values in the world of sports reporting and sports administration. Fixing it is all talk and no action.

Check out equality and diversity in a place where diversity and equality should be most important

A report recently indicated that in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), 68 per cent of the head coaches of women’s teams are male and 82 per cent of the head coaches of mixed teams, such as swimming or track and field, are male.

There is no stronger person than a woman who makes a career out of her love of sport. It is a hard road to travel. Women are treated differently. They are viewed differently and they encounter far more obstacles because of gender than men face.

There is a cynicism most women have to deal with and that cynicism is because of the reporter’s or administrator’s gender.

It’s evident in subtle and not so subtle ways including how a woman is addressed, the amount of time spent answering a woman’s question and manner in which it is answered, the snide remarks made about looks that would never be made to a man.

The recent victory by Erin Andrews in her stalker, voyeur case is a perfect example of how women are still viewed by many in the world of sports.

The lawyers for the Nashville Marriott actually suggested that the peephole video of Andrews walking around her hotel room naked helped her career. As offensive, degrading and headshake-worthy that comment is, there are many who believe it because she is a woman.

So the thinking goes. She’s there because of her looks.

Some media outlets did more than report the news, they profited from further debasing gone of their own.

Of course there are more women in television sports broadcasting than ever before but look closely. Most are reading the news or doing sideline interviews.

When it comes to analysis, especially in hockey, there are tables and tables of men talking hockey on every channel. When women’s hockey is involved there’s usually a woman analyst and a man.

It’s telling women and society in general that women are ok, barely, to about women’s hockey but obviously you don’t know enough to talk about high level NHL hockey. After all, every one of those former NHL players is a Rhodes Scholar whose analysis is insightful rhetoric.

It isn’t just hockey. It’s every sport from soccer to basketball to baseball. If it’s a women’s sport then a woman is qualified to speak; but certainly not when men are participating.

It’s gender bias by exclusion.

I’ve been fortunate working with and meeting incredible women reporters, administrators, broadcasters and athletes. They have great talent, enthusiasm and a far tougher skin than many men in the same position. Many of those women are smarter and more capable than men. Far more of those capable women can’t get a break because they are women.

Through social media those that dare invade the domain of the male are threatened physically and sexually; and diminished because of their looks, put down by those incapable of recognizing the world is changing and power is no longer only awarded people simply because they have a penis.

It is impossible to name everyone who on a daily basis fights the good fight. To all those strong and talented women I work with at the newspaper; to athletes like Shelina Zadorsky, Jessie Fleming, Katelyn Gosling, Caroline Wolynsky, Kelsey Veltman, Jade Kovacevic and other women I’ve had the chance to write about recently; to administrators like Therese Quigley, Jessica McGregor, and the others who work behind the scenes making things run well, who get far too little credit for doing so, thanks on International Women’s Day.

Know that what you did yesterday, what you do today and what you do tomorrow, will make a difference; that every action will move equality forward an inch, then a foot, then a mile and then many miles until the road ends at the same destination for both men and women.

Article Written By: Morris Dalla Costa