Monday, August 24, 2009

The father discourse

Some of us who study gender and sport get a serious case of the sighs when we read about athletes who are mothers or expectant mothers. There are a myriad of problems with the discourse including (but not limited to): how it plays on/reifies a female apologetic; how it presents pregnancy as a disability; and the hackneyed work/motherhood balance that often fails to acknowledge the help many of these athletes have access to (that others do not).
And, of course, we frequently bemoan how many male athletes are fathers yet we never hear about their fatherhood experiences. When Andre Agassi became a father at the end of his career we got a few mentions of that. And there was that very cute American Express commercial that played on his dad duties. But it was the end of the career and he was married to Steffi Graf which made it slightly more interesting.
But now Roger Federer has become a father--of two. His wife gave birth shortly after Wimbledon to twin girls. And it is drawing plenty of comment. Pam Shriver noted yesterday how Federer is getting used a different kind of changing of ends. (I know, she's just awful!)
And in the reporting of his win in Cincinnati yesterday there was this headline: New father Federer wins Cincy Masters. The first line: Changing diapers doesn't seem to bother Papa Federer's game.
It's kind of interesting. But I know everyone is just waiting to see if his game "suffers" because of his alleged new duties (after all the Federers must be traveling with at least one nanny--probably two). I am sure the daddy discourse will continue at the US Open and the questions about how he is adjusting to fatherhood will get perhaps equal time to how he feels about possibly facing Nadal before the finals (draw comes out Thursday).

1 comment:

Diane said...

It's interesting to note that one sports writer (I forget who) did any analysis of men who won majors after they became fathers. The point was that parenthood generally hurts a man's game. For someone to even bother to write about that was really different from what we are used to seeing.