Thursday, August 21, 2008

Are all sports equal?

I read an article that suggests that rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming be dropped from the Olympics because they are sports in which only women compete. Moreover, the article says that they're sports that were added before women were allowed to compete in such "manly" sports as wrestling and weightlifting.

I think that the author has a point here - I don't see why there should be any gender-specific competitions in the Olympics. So yes, either open up these sports to men or else drop them. But what should they do about gymnastics? Men and women only both compete in the vault and the floor, and even then, women perform their floor routines to music and are judged according to artistic ability. The men don't perform their floor routines to music, so why should the women?

The vault and floor aside, the men and women compete on completely different apparatus; the men on the rings, parallel bars, and high bar, and the women on the balance beam and uneven bars. Clearly the men's competition emphasizes strength - the rings and parallel bars are all about strength - whereas the women's again tend to be more artistic.

Could men and women each compete in each other's gymnastic events? Maybe. We don't really know, though, because they don't do that right now at the lower levels.... and until/unless they do, it's unlikely that there will be changes at the Olympics. Still, it would be nice if they started to look at bringing some equality to the sports competitions in the Olympics, and not just for gymnastics or synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics or any of the other sports in which only one gender completes.


Darling Jee said...

There's an extension to this argument. Why shouldn't there be co-ed competitions?

Chantelle said...

I've been thinking about this. Since both men and women are competing in the same sports, why couldn't they compete together?

The only reason I see for keeping some competitions separate is that I think men and women don't necessarily have comparable times - the women's tend to be a bit higher in track and swimming, for example.

For events where men and women do have comparable times or scoring systems, there's no reason why they shouldn't be co-ed now. For the others, I think that there will come a point when men and women set comparable times and the events will be more exciting when they're co-ed.

Robin said...

I was thinking specifically of the rings and horse...they require a lot of upper body strength that women don't naturally have. Women could do it, no question, but we wouldn't be able to do it at the same level as the men. Maybe a change in the scoring system or routine qualifications for those events?

I do agree that events should be open to both genders but how would you judge in a fair manner if we competed together? Our bodies are not created equally, men have more muscle mass and their testosterone allows for quicker and larger muscle buildup. To judge a woman using that as a measuring stick would have her fail.

So, in my mind, events should be open to both genders but still competed and judged separately.