Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who's allowed in?

To the Olympics, that is. I am not talking about the bids by various sports (karate, softball, baseball, rugby, golf, among others) to earn a spot on the Olympic roster, but two situations all about gender exclusion.
The first is the ongoing battle by female ski jumpers to get into the 2010 Winter Games. Their day in court came yesterday (and will continue all week) as they argue that the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) must allow them to compete because the organization is bound by the Canadian Charter and not the IOC. The jumpers' lawyer presented the legal arguments yesterday and will do so today as well. VANOC will respond later in the week. There is no testimony, just arguments.
It's going to be an interesting decision; perhaps even precedent-setting. What happens when federal law applies to one group that is subject to the rules of another organization/group that is not bound by the same laws? Happens sometimes in the United States with Title IX. Schools are bound by the law but entities that work with schools frequently are not.

Second issue of wanting to compete but being barred by gender comes from a synchronized swimmer from Germany who wants to compete with his team in the Olympics but cannot because he is a man. Niklas Stoepel has been fighting various governing bodies in an attempt to be able to compete in his sport. His story was picked up by ESPN. You know what that means, right?
Lots of "jokes" as the writer makes his end point, which is that Stoepel should be allowed to compete. Same conclusion that I have reached--but without making quips about shaving and sequins. So let him compete but don't make him wear sequins, is what the message is. It is a team sport. Maybe he should wear what everyone else is wearing. Maybe sequins are needed in the sport so the judges can see all the movements in the water. I don't know. Or maybe Stoepel and his teammates will come up with something really innovative and change the culture of the sport. Regardless, let the man swim, and stop worrying about his exfoliation and sartorial habits.

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