Women in "men's" sports

(46 Posts)

I was watching golf when my mum was here over the weekend (don't usually bother with sport). And I was thinking, surely the very top women golfers are better than a fair chunk of the men who were in that competition? There are so many sports where I just can't see how sheer size and strength matter all that much, and what really counts is skill, training and support. Even football, I suspect if it was as common for girls to play, and the same support was in place for talented young women as it is for talented young men, mixed teams would be completely viable.

I run, and though I am happy if I'm not last, there are usually a few women in the top 10, and even slowcoach me beats some men sometimes.

So, I think that for most sports, there really isn't much to stop women competing against men. I think that in most sports, women would step up the additional challenge and the gaps currently between women and men would narrow.

But on the other hand, ultimately, men are bigger and stronger and faster, so it would remain likely that the very top spot/s would always go to a man. So women can only ever be winners if they compete against each other. Then again, if you're only ever competing against other women, you're not ultimately really the best anyway, are you?

I'm rambling a bit, but what it boils down to is that it seems to me that a lot of the male/female divide in sport is down to tradition, to accessibility and to down and out chauvinism, not actual ability.

Any thoughts?

kickassangel Mon 25-Feb-13 01:26:57

You should read The Frailty Myth.

There is a lot if effort put into making sure that women aren't given the same chances as the men in sport. Wouldn't be fair to the men if women got the same funding, coaching etc angry

sashh Mon 25-Feb-13 05:52:01

Women's football used to get the same size crowds as men, until the FA banned them.

I think a lot of sports would be more interesting f they were mixed, not just men and women. In the paralympics there was a swimming relay where the points allocated to different individuals had to add up to a certain number, I though you could add in an able bodied swimmer easily enough.

And a mixed relay team (men and women) would be easy in swimming and track.

BigGiantCowWithAKnockKnockTail Mon 25-Feb-13 05:57:48

This is why I love eventing and show jumping. Equestrian events are the only ones I know where men and women compete equally, both alongside and against one another.

kickassangel Mon 25-Feb-13 06:58:00

And although the strongest men are stronger than women, and the weakest women ten to be weaker than men, there's a vast number % that overlaps and could compete together. Only at the very highest levels (and there's evidence that this would even out with equal opportunity) is there a discrepancy. There's no reason why Sunday league football or village cricket teams can't be mixed.

Trytrytyagain Mon 25-Feb-13 07:56:33

Cricket can be mixed.

I coach cricket and our teams are mixed, and I've played against women and girls in adult cricket.

There just aren't enough girls and women playing it, the ECB are all for it.

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/21028986

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 08:53:03

I swim competitively. There are more women than men in our club. I am regularly beaten in training by women, and girls. Outside of the extreme ends of the bell-curve, performance comes down to how hard you train. Certainly at my club and regional level, even a physical sport like swimming could have mixed events.

The big problem seems to be getting more women/girls involved in sport, and increasing the media coverage. I don't know which comes first though.

Sausageeggbacon Mon 25-Feb-13 09:47:00

It comes down to training, dedication up to a point. DD does karate and is 20 months older than ds1, in technique she is so much better but if they were to actually fight not so sure that she would have it as easy. DD does idolise Chloe Bruce although even this one does model as well as fight.

Glad to hear it's not just me then. Sigh, yet another barrier to break down, where men are the default and women are "other".

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 10:04:28

Exactly how are these barriers preventing you from enjoying your running, Annie?

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 25-Feb-13 10:44:12

Completely agree with the OP.

All sports were once male. The clue is in the name - sport, which used to just mean leisure, fun. Women weren't supposed to have any leisure, they were supposed to working in the house, doing the babies etc. There were a few exceptions - aristocratic women were allowed to have diversion - but on the whole, sport was the preserve of men.

Men deliberately excluded women from sport and they still do: walk into any gym and you'll sense immediately that it is a male space, women are tolerated resentfully. All the equipment is made for an average male, if you're smaller than the average woman you can't use some of it safely. As Annie says, men are default and we are other.

It's only been a few decades since women have been grudgingly allowed into sport. We've got centuries to catch up on.

EstherRancid Mon 25-Feb-13 10:49:56

perhaps we could email sports reporters and ask them why we have 'xxx sport' and 'ladies sport'?

you never hear eg 'Arsenal Men's team' but it's always 'Arsenal LADIES'

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 11:18:50

Fastidia, if you are having problems with your gym, try the Klick Fitness chain (if you are in the UK).

www.klickfitness.com/

There are lots of women at my local club. They also have a big over-50's contingent, so it isn't just aimed at steriod-powered meatheads. The fixed-weight machines are also fully adjustable for limb length. I don't think the big gym chains can afford to ignore the women's market - there is too much money to be made. (I don't work for Klick, just to be clear).

namechangeguy - there are no barriers stopping me from enjoying running. Apart from an injured ankle. Why would you think there are? My point was only that the top women in most sport hold their own against all but a very few men.

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 14:06:00

Annie, because you said '.... yet another barrier to break down'. I guess I misunderstood.

ArmyOfPenguins Mon 25-Feb-13 14:23:17

homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/kerrladies.html

This women's football team played against men's teams. In eight games they won three, lost two and drew three.

Then women got banned from playing by the FA. Which simply must be coincidental.

namechangeguy yup, you misunderstood. I meant another barrier to be broken down before women are seen as human.

How, in a world with legislation against gender discrimination, is it legal for the FA to ban a team based on their gender? [boggles]

Trytrytyagain Mon 25-Feb-13 17:18:12

They were banned in 1921.

But they carried on playing until 1965.

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 18:14:38

'How, in a world with legislation against gender discrimination, is it legal for the FA to ban a team based on their gender? [boggles]'

I believe it occurred in 1922. Did they have legislation against discrimination then?

Nowadays, there is the Women's Premier League in the UK, so I don't think it happens now. I know that Liverpool and Everton have women's teams in the league. There is also Major League Soccer in the USA, and around Europe. There are also international teams for Middle Eastern countries like Iran, Jordan, Palestine and Bahrain, where you might not necessarily expect the game to be flourishing.

Are you deliberately missing the point, namechangeguy? This thread is about mixed gender sport, where people compete based on ability rather than genitalia. Not about which oh-so-"progressive" countries let the little women have their own runner-up leagues.

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 22:23:58

So why did you 'boggle' about an event that occurred 91 years ago? I was trying to illustrate that there has been progress in the intervening 9 decades, that's all.

I originally contributed a point about swimming and mixed training/competing. You then moved it on to an event that occurred a very long time ago.

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 22:25:45

And those 'little women', as you so positively describe them, have competed in Olympics and World Cups. Something the vast majority of us will never have the ability to do.

kim147 Mon 25-Feb-13 22:25:59

I do wonder why sports such as darts and snooker aren't mixed - strength isn't an issue in such sports. I know there are female snooker and darts players but I've never seen them competing with men.

I'm sure there are other sports where "strength" isn't an issue.
As for gyms, my council gym seems to have an even mix of males and females. Except for the free weights end.

namechangeguy Mon 25-Feb-13 22:48:23

I don't know why snooker and darts don't compete, kim. I know that Allison Fisher was women's world champion at snooker, but rather than go into the men's sport she hooked off to the USA and cleaned up in the very lucrative women's pool circuit. Maybe she could have been a trailblazer.

Of current top sports starts, I can think of two women who have attempted to cross into men's competitions. Lindsey Vonn was looking to compete in men's downhill skiing, until she had a bad crash. Skiing is incredibly physical, so I'd love to see her try one day. She is a phenomenal skier. Sarah Taylor, the England cricketer, is possibly going to play for Sussex this summer, so as a wicket-keeper where reactions and athleticism are paramount, it will be interesting to see how she competes.

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