Why pro sports should go co-ed
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
I’m the last person you’d expect to cry institutionalized sexism, yet when I look at the world of professional sport, I find it glaringly obvious that the sexes are not treated equally. Rather than allowing male and female Olympians to compete together, their competitions are segregated. This to me is evidence of an actual inequality, as opposed to an accusation of intangible discrimination.
The Olympic Charter (Chapter 1, Rule 2.7) states the role of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is “to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women.” Now, since this is 2015, I’ll give the IOC the benefit of the doubt. It’s a good sentiment, but it can be taken further. The interests of equality can be better served by having mixed-gender programs instead of two based on gender.
The separate-but-equal model is a tradition that begins in grade school. Kids have opportunities to compete in all sports, but only against other competitors of their own sex. Some would argue that this is fair and proper because men and women have differing physical advantages and disadvantages, and pitting them against one another is unfair to the women. I would argue that, regardless of level, athletes should be evaluated only by their event stats and weight class. Then they should be made to compete on those bases alone. Look at women’s boxing or wrestling and tell me those Amazons of the ring couldn’t face a man of similar size and skill.
It’s only since the 2012 London Olympic Games that women participated fully in every sport on the program; 44 per cent of the athletes that year were women. Mixed relays in biathlon and luge featured mixed-gender teams at the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014. Most equestrian events allow non-gendered competition. So what’s the catch? Perhaps we haven’t embraced this idea because separate-but-equal is a tradition of sorts. Then again, the original Olympics were male-only events, and that tradition has long since passed.
Sports are a true meritocracy. You achieve on the basis of skill, no matter who you are. If you dope or rely on friends in high places to get ahead, you’ll be discovered and the public will roast you alive. I can respect that. I think professional sport can only gain more respect if they restructure their leagues and organize athletes according to their skill exclusively.