Lockdown Brings Light To Gender Gap In Sports
As we can all attest, COVID-19 has thrown a stick in the spokes of this year. With tragic death tolls and lockdown measures turning our society on its head, the pandemic has been truly awful.
However, around the world, COVID-19 lockdown measures are also leading to gender inequalities in sports rearing their ugly heads, with women globally getting the short end of the stick under the guise of proper safety protocols.
Is this intentional? Are we seeing a push toward the erasure of women’s sporting progress? Unlikely, but that does not mean we should not call out these inequalities when we see them.
In a recent article for The New York Times, staff writer Anna Schvarien wrote about the issue in England, where men’s and women’s professional soccer leagues are being treated differently with regard to whether or not they can play during the lockdown.
Specifically, legislation passed by the British government is allowing for the top six men’s leagues to play, while only the top two women’s leagues are being allowed to take the pitch until the lockdown is lifted.
That is certainly a raw deal, but the issue goes even deeper.
Around the same time, the premier men’s F.A. Cup was given a green light to go on, yet the women’s tournament was delayed until the pandemic is over.
On the scholastic side, women’s soccer academies were ordered to temporarily close during the pandemic, but over 80 boy’s soccer academies were allowed to open after being deemed “elite” sporting facilities.
That decision was later overturned due to outrage on the part of UK citizens, but it brings up some ugly questions.
As the situation improves overseas, it appears that most of these restrictions will be lifted in December, but at what cost? It seems the damage has been done already and girl athletes have borne the brunt of sexist policy that has kept them off the pitch for an entire season.
Sexism in Shawnee
Back stateside, we are also dealing with age-old inequalities between boys and girls sports.
In Kansas, state legislators recently passed ordinances that changed the postseason tournament formats for scholastic sports in ways that some people, including prolific high school volleyball coach Nancy Dorsey, are calling unfair.
Essentially, the Kansas High School Activities Association allowed boys’ sports like football to have their postseason tournaments as expected, but limited the number of girls’ sports teams who could advance to the post season tournaments. This decision put many powerhouse programs out of the running for state title contention.
In an article written for the Shawnee Mission post, Dorsey, who is one of the winningest scholastic volleyball coaches in Kansas, talked about her dismay at the KHSAA’s decision.
“It’s clear. It’s undeniable,” Dorsey said in an email. “Golf. Tennis. Volleyball. All sports played by girls. All saw significant changes to their post-season. I do not think that is a coincidence.”
In total, more than 300 girl athletes were cut out of attending the postseason tournament, something Dorsey thinks is unfair, but certainly not uncommon.
“They aren’t bad people. They just did what society has been doing the entire time I’ve been alive, they [marginalized] girls athletics.”
For further reading, here is the KHSAA’s website, where you can find more information about their rules and regulations on postseason competition.
Silence Felt All Around The World
Even as athletes and coaches fight for representation in places like England and the United States, the United Nations recently published a brief highlighting the impacts of the absence of sports for women around the world during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The report highlights 5 areas that the UN sees as problematic for women in sports, including:
- Leadership in sports
- Gender-based violence and sports
- Economic impacts on women in sports
- Women’s representation in the media
- Girls’ participation in sports
Although it is an incredibly powerful read, this brief goes a little too deep to be totally summarized here. However, it is worth bringing up their findings about girls’ participation in sports.
According to the brief, “The impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in sports has yet to be well studied. It is therefore recommended that institutions collect gender disaggregated data, monitor their actions for gender equality and support in-depth research for evidence-based advocacy, policy, decision making and resource allocation.”
They then go further to say, “Women and girls must be equally participants and leaders in the process of building back better, so their gains are not lost, and a better future for all becomes a reality, where women and girls can participate in, work with, govern and enjoy sport on an equal playing field.”
Dragonwing Girls Shine Above!
To say the least, 2020 has been a trying year for women in sports. But with that said, we at Dragonwing Girlgear believe that sports are a crucial way for young tweens and teens to stay connected to the norms of pre-COVID life while staying grounded and motivated to be their best in life.
The proverbial show must go on, and our company will always strive to support gender equality in sports.
Do you have an experience with feeling left out or marginalized as an athlete during the COVID-19 pandemic? Feel free to send us an email. We would love to highlight your story in a future blog post.
As always, stay well and stay strong underneath it all - on and off the field.
All the best,