Monday, February 03, 2014

My former dreams are shattered

Many women's sports advocates have cheered the greater gender parity that we will see in Sochi next week. Mostly this is over the long-fought and quite visible battle female ski jumpers around the world engaged in over their inclusion in the winter games. (There's even a movie about it--which I haven't seen but would like to get a hold of.)
But of course all is not equal, it's not even equitable. I was pretty sure, and then this article confirmed, that there would be no Nordic combined (jumping and cross-country skiing) event for women.
But, as with the summer games, it's more than just sports, it's events within sports that provide more opportunities for male Olympic athletes than female ones.
The most surprising to me was bobsled. In college, I remember the announcement that women's bobsled would be included in the 2002 games. My three female housemates and I were quite excited that we theoretically (and in theory only) had the possibility of being the first US 4-woman bobsled team. I guess technically we still do because there is no 4-person women's bobsled, only 2-person. I have seen no compelling reason for its absence.
This absence is especially salient this year given the controversy over which American women would go to Sochi. Track star Lolo Jones, who took up bobsled in 2012 after a disappointing and also controversial showing at the London Games, made the team despite her lack of experience. Some in bobsled circles suggest that she is there for publicity with other conspiracy-minded people suggesting that NBC needs a female media darling given Lindsey Vonn's injury-induced absence from the games.
So though there is no parity yet in terms of opportunities, female athletes may have more than their fair share of the spotlight.