Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's happening in international competition

1. I am getting daily alerts--more than one a day actually--about the female ski jumpers and their fight to get their sport into the 2010 Olympics. There does not seem, however, to be much new news. But every time something little happens, the Canadian media, most often the Globe and Mail, report on it. But I thought this article was worthy of a brief note. Former jumper Eddie Edwards has said that he does not think the women are ready for Olympic-level competition. This is fairly ironic because Edwards is none other than Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards from England who qualified, via a loophole in the regulations, for the 1988 winter games where he gained instant notoriety despite being the worst jumper in the field.

Edwards does not think battling the IOC decision using a human rights argument is a good idea and that the women should just wait it out. Quite a disappointing statement from someone who himself was not qualified for competition; I would actually bet that most of the women who are seeking entry into the Olympics are far more qualified than Edwards was in 1988.

Though Edwards did make an interesting and somewhat progressive point when he said that he thinks, because the sport is about technique and speed and not power, that the women should compete alongside the men.

2. The US women's national soccer team is competing in the Four Nations Tournament this week and doing quite well under new coach Pia Sundhage. They beat both Canada (4-0) and Finland (4-1) and will take on China today for the title. The title battle will be interesting given that right before Sundhage was named the head coach of the US team she was an assistant coach for none other than China.

3. USA Today is reporting on the waning popularity of figure skating--from an American perspective anyway--what with Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, and Sasha Cohen no longer skating competitively. It's a little bit sad though that the author cites the height of skating's popularity as the days of skating as soap opera marked most resoundingly by the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation. The implication--more obvious at times--is that what is happening in the women's field determines the level of interest. Again, a little bit sad that what people really want to see is drama. And also disturbing that all the interest provided by American Johnny Weir, from his choice of costumes to his off-ice remarks, doesn't engender as much popularity. I think Weir is fascinating. Of course I'm not watching any figure skating these days so I guess I can't really comment on how interesting it is anymore. Honestly, I am surprised it remains so popular in this country that likes its sports very masculine.

4. Hey--the first grand slam of the year is underway in Australia. Because it's the Australian Open I don't get to see a lot of it--the television coverage (split between ESPN2 and The Tennis Channel--I don't get the latter) is on at odd times of the day; time difference and all. And Diane over at Women Who Serve is doing an excellent job covering the women's events so I don't feel the need to comment extensively. But I have noticed some interesting things regarding the discourse around the women's field. Stories about both Venus and Serena Williams focus on their outfits before talking about their matches. And in this story about the women's field down under the author refers to the participants as "girls." I know the lingo is a little different in Australia and I don't want to unequivocally say, not knowing the culture, that it's offensive to call women girls but I think it's offensive to call women girls in the US, in Australia, or anywhere else.

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