Sports, everybody?

 

This article might be a very segmented piece, it will talk about the social dynamics in sports and some names in sports to which some of you might not know, like: Yana Kudryavtseva, a rhythmic gymnast from Russia, that had collected 26 golds through competitions, the youngest gymnast to win world championship, and had won all major competitions in 2013 – 2016 period, except the Olympics. But she’s retired now. She’s an admiration for me. But let’s stop right there, I won’t continue to talk about her for now. Ah, for your information, rhythmic gymnastic is a sport that is featured only for women in the Olympics, like synchronized swimming. A sport exclusively for women? Hmmmm, is it equal enough for us in this heterocultural world? 

“I would have been considered the greatest of all time a long time ago, if I were a man.”.png

You may all know about Roger Federer, a male tennis player who is considered as greatest of all time (GOAT) a long time ago, and recently clinched his 18th grand slam in Australia. But now lets talk about Serena Williams, she won her 23rd grand slam title at the same time Federer did to his 18th, while she’s expecting! but, has she been titled a GOAT? For some people, yes, (for me, oh absolutely yes!) but for the other part of society out there, maybe she hasn’t been, she’s not, or she will never be. The reason? She’s a woman. There is sexism amidst tennis and other sports, and it has been for a long long time, since the ancient greeks until now.

In 2016, Djokovic blatantly stated in public during an interview, that male tennis players should be paid higher than female ones because, he thought, male players attract more spectators than female players. Of course, this statement was very controversial which had sparked counter arguments that came from Andy Murray and Federer, and also from other several tennis observers. These critics made Djokovic rectified his comment afterwards. But even if it was accidentally spoken, it is quite fair to say that sexism is well known among athletes. And the need for more Murrays is especially high!

The fight for athletes to be equally paid for both men and women in tennis was started in 1973 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) founded by Billie Jean King. The US Open then became the first big tournament to apply the initiative where men and women champions are equally prized. All grand slam in tennis then acknowledged all champions equally, after 2007 when Wimbledon became the last grand slam tournament to offer equal prize for both men and women. But the same condition hasn’t been applied yet to all tournaments in tennis. Let’s take an example from the double sunshine tournament in the US (Indian Wells and Miami Open), which offer a grand total of  US$ 6,993,450 to women and US$ 7,913,405 to men as its financial commitment. See, there is a major gap of almost US$ 1 million in prize between men and women in that tournament!

It’s a complicated thing to talk about equal prize for men and women in tennis, because it wholly depends on investments committed by the third party (and also due to different association for management, administration, etc to men and women). It also becomes complicated to discuss in other sports. The overall association in sports, in my personal and limited belief, generally fight for equal prize even though there are still some that are struggling for it. In 2014, BBC conducted a sport study to compare prize committed in all sports between men and women. The study found out that from 35 sports acknowledged to compete in the Olympics (summer and winter), only 25 of them are offering the same amount of prize to both genders in big tournaments (such as: world championship, world cup, or world series whatever the sports call it). It seems like it’s right there, on the right track, and maybe someday all sports will commit to do the same.

 Evgenia Medvedeva during her free skate performance in 2017 World Figure Skating Championships where she successfully defended her title and broke another world record. Figure skating is, thankfully, a sport which offers equal prize for both men and women. Photo Credit: International Skating Union.

Evgenia Medvedeva during her free skate performance in 2017 World Figure Skating Championships where she successfully defended her title and broke another world record. Figure skating is, thankfully, a sport which offers equal prize for both men and women. Photo Credit: International Skating Union.

Some people might reckon that it is what it is, women in sports is considered less attractive than men. But let’s talk about facts here. We do know it’s a myth, and that attractiveness isn’t determined by any gender. I really love Roger Federer and I bet a couple of million does too, but folks should also know that the 2005 Wimbledon’s final between Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport drew 1 million viewers more than the men’s final between Andy Roddick and Federer himself. Popularity among athletes drew not because of its gender, it depends by many aspects: attitude, skill, generosity, humility, fashion, or anything else. We cannot simply judge it because of one thing like: he’s a man or she’s a woman. But we know exactly, based on evidence, that female athletes are just as talented as male athletes.

 Quidditch game in US. It was first played in 2005 and continue to grow until now. Quidditch is the first sport to include any gender in the team: male, female, or whatever. Photo Credit: Matt Dwyer Photography in US Quidditch 2015-2016 Annual Report.

Quidditch game in US. It was first played in 2005 and continue to grow until now. Quidditch is the first sport to include any gender in the team: male, female, or whatever. Photo Credit: Matt Dwyer Photography in US Quidditch 2015-2016 Annual Report.

I also realized that I haven’t covered the discussion of some inclusivity within sports, since Olympics competing sports are available for only cis men and cis women. But who knows, there will be a time to include all gender in sports like how it’s applied in Quidditch. The sport recently established its international association called: International Quidditch Association and claimed as the first sport to enclose that all of the gender spectrum are able to play. Even though we know that it’s pretty hard to suggest a sport to compete in the Olympics by its tight regulations (as do artistic roller skating that has not been recognized to compete in the Olympics, although it annually organizes its world championship since 2002), but who knows maybe one day Quidditch will be featured in the Olympics, since there will always be a new sport branch to compete in every Olympics. Lets cross our freaky fingers for it!