More Gender Bias in Sports

Woman RunnerMore often than not, we are confronted with gender stereotypes in sports that do a major disservice to both men and women. It has again happened this week.

For example, there are those who put on the blinders and say,

“Well, the PED controversy applies to men, of course. Women could care less about that kind of stuff.”

I need only mention the tragic case of track star Marion Jones or Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo who was banned 2 years for PED’s and just the day before yesterday, Olympic champion and Gold Medalist Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey gave up her 1,500-meter title to serve an 8-year ban for blood doping.

While I’m on the gender bias and PED stuff, two weeks ago, there were more snipes at Serena Williams. Her critics accused her of taking PEDs. Why? Because she wins. They point to the fact that she has a ripped athlete’s body. That is their main proof.

Another disservice is when a woman crosses over to coach men’s sports, and she is viewed like a freak show.

Jen Welter has just been hired as the Inside Linebackers coach at the Arizona Cardinals. She is no slouch; in addition to the fact that she played football for 14 years for the Women’s Football Alliance and won two gold medals for Team USA, she holds a Ph.D. in Psychology. Yet today, on sports radio, one of the on-airs wondered if it was all a publicity stunt. OK then, would we hold Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma to the same standard for coaching women’s basketball?

Is there a connecting point between to all of these stories? Yes, it is ethics.

The challenge of opportunity

Opportunity and unethical behavior presents itself in many different ways and it does not know gender. For the unethical, for those seeking an edge – and knowing full well that the choices they make are capable of ending their careers – there is a decision to take a risk.

Whether a runner from Kenya or a Cyclist from Austin, Texas there is a crossroads. Either to take a shortcut or not; either to use PEDs or to blood dope or not.

The temptation of cheating during competition is too much of an opportunity for some athletes to turn down. The accolades and fanfare; the cheering and the adoration are powerful drugs. Some will do anything to their bodies to hear the applause. It does not know gender.

On the other hand, some athletes are born gifted. They possess the bodies, the reflexes and the innate ability to play a sport at a high level. Yes, they must mold that talent to be sure. Serena Williams without training and years of practice, would have had a very different life than she now enjoys.

Serena has the body of an athlete who works out hours each day. In my small world, and despite my “advanced age,” I get to the gym six days a week. Every so often I see a man or woman enter the weight room who almost seem like they have come from a different planet. They are stronger and more ripped and outwork everyone else. They are unmistakable in their physique and athleticism. They are not jerks, they aren’t arrogant or pushy; they are just naturally stronger and more muscular. However, they also work out like crazy. It is unethical (and mildly sexist?) to pin a “Steroid Tag” on any female athlete who is naturally more muscular.

So until the “media” and former players have definitive proof to the contrary, I am going to assume Serena Williams is not injecting or pill-popping banned substances. To that end, unless the “media” and former players can show proof, I wish they would shut up and go away. It does sports no good, and especially women in sports.

I don’t know if Jen Welter will be hired on full-time by the Arizona Cardinals. Whether she is, or isn’t, should not be related to her gender. The only question is if she can make a linebacker better. She will be graded on her abilities – good and bad.

Bad choices and their consequences affect everyone; just ask Tonya Harding or Hope Solo however, to pre-judge and judge on the basis of gender alone is simply wrong and very unethical.

 

 

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