Thursday, February 04, 2010

In case you didn't know...

...the Olympics are run by boys. Shocker.
But if you want some of the details check out Christine Brennan's column about the male-dominated USOC. All the National Governing Board (the groups that govern individual sports such as skating, skiing/snowboarding, luge, etc.) heads are men. The USOC briefly had a female president, but she got run out of town. And this is part of the reason why women are not found in these positions. All these men talk the politically correct game and the NGBs say they want to be diverse but, really, you think they want women in charge--of sports! Similar to the situations faced by female coaches and female administrators in intercollegiate sports (where there is also a dearth , though not nearly so bad, of women), women in Olympic sport administration deal not only with the pressures of their respective jobs but having to deal with the inherent sexism--sometimes overt, sometimes stealth--that honestly makes the job either impossible to succeed in or just not worth it.
Brennan asks why more past female Olympic athletes are not stepping into governance roles. But often these women have no administrative experience and thus any (male-dominated) search committee will fault them for that. And given the recent issues the USOC has had, I think we should be getting people with administrative experience. (No offense Bonnie Blair.) So what about the corporate world, she asks? (I would also add the non-profit world.) Well women who have succeeded in corporate America (or globally) certainly have dealt with sexism. But then we add the sports component and the proverbial ball game changes. Non-athlete women get questioned about their knowledge of sports in ways non-athlete men do not. Look at how many non-athlete men are sports journalists or television commentators. And how many women in similar positions do not have athletic pasts?
In other words, it doesn't appear that for a man to be a qualified USOC or NGB leader he has to be something special. But a woman has to be extraordinary.

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