Friday, August 10, 2007

What's a family?

I found this feature in the Florida Times Union that profiles women it feel are, as the title shows, "Leading sports forward" in the state of Florida--or who are from Florida and making a national impact. I think they did a good job showing women at all levels of sports from Donna Orender, WNBA president, to local high school athletic directors, to the president of the Let us play! Foundation.

Each profile gives the woman's background, education, current occupation and thoughts on something related to women in sports. And they also have a category labelled "Family." So in the entry on law professor, former Olympic swimmer, and Title IX advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar we can read that she has a husband and the names and ages of her kids. Some of the other women have "Single" written next to Family. I don't think it is a stretch to say that these women probably are not all single but are gay. Single does not equal gay. I know this and I know that it is a problem in women's sports when single women are assumed to be gay. But I also know that this is the code that operates in sport, especially in sports media.

The term family as it is employed here effectively erases any form of a same-sex partnership and even co-parenting arrangements. And in tandem with the term single it devalues such relationships which has consequences that extend far beyond sports.

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