Friday, March 06, 2009

News from around the world

Good article in the NYT about women's soccer (known there as football, of course) in Turkey. It focuses on the lack of acceptance for women's participation in the sport. Turkey has established a women's soccer league and getting people interested has been a battle because, according to the article, "there is a deep ambivalence in this socially conservative, predominantly Muslim society about women playing the game."

This article constantly had me comparing the climate in Turkey to the one here. When a writer invokes Islam in the context of women playing sport, there seems to be an automatic response along the lines of "oh, yes, it's so bad there; they are so oppressed."

After all, what are things like here in a arguable socially conservative, predominantly Christian society?

This spring marks attempt number two at a women's professional soccer league in the United States. Women's soccer fans are crossing fingers, toes, and engaging in any other good luck practice in the hopes that the league will survive--that it will garner the interest (from fans and sponsors) that it could not last time.

The article notes that male hecklers have come by the practice fields in Turkey yelling that the women should be home cooking. This is not a regular occurrence here (or there as far as I can tell) but the sentiment certainly exists here. Remember a few years ago when a broadcaster for the Celtics, who had a problem with a female referee, said she should be cooking him bacon and eggs?

All this is to say that, yes, women in the United States have more opportunities to play sports and seemingly encounter less overt hostility when doing so; but don't kid yourself that the sentiments in Turkey do not exist here in some form as well.

Moving on to women's cricket. Fox Sports (oh the love-hate relationship here) has entered into an agreement with the International Cricket Council to broadcast the Women's World Cup this month. The tournament starts this weekend and is being held in Sydney, Australia.

And finally, the IOC (with whom I--and others--clearly have some issues) awarded Lydia Nsekera, who is president of the Burundi Football Federation, a Women and Sport Award this week at a ceremony in Switzerland. In addition to building the men's program, Nsekera has increased participation for girls and women and also started a program to get more women involved in refereeing.
The other winners of the award are discussed here.

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