Are We Curling in the Right Direction?

Picture this… It’s the end of a 14-year-old girl’s first curling season. Upon looking back at her glorious season, she realizes that she can’t see herself not curling ever again. She’s completely in love with the sport. However, she has a secret that may prevent her from continuing to find joy within sport. She feels as though she was never meant to be a girl and strongly desires to begin her transition to what she identifies with – a boy.

For what seems like forever, sport has followed a binary gendered philosophy. Youth are told at a young age that they’re joining a boy’s team, or a girl’s team. Within that social construct there is no place for a boy playing on a girl’s team (or vice versa), let alone the transgender boy mentioned above.

Today, there is hope to crush the binary gendered philosophy in sport. In curling, both females and males take part in the mixed doubles category. In MacLean’s Magazine, it is stated that mixed doubles curling finally places both female and male athletes side by side to accomplish the same goal within sport – to win. Mixed doubles curling was finally placed on the world stage in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics to show the world that the binary gender philosophy of sport can be broken.

In order to construct more co-ed sports teams there is one main issue to consider: the construction of new co-ed league rules. Scholars insist that upon the creation of co-ed sport rules, the rules are framed to insist that female athletes are unequal to male athletes in sport. Thus, the co-ed sport may have a masculine bias before the sport can even be played.

As a society, I believe we are headed in the right direction when it comes to gender equity and equality. However, there is much work to be done in sport. The Olympics made the right move by putting mixed curling on the World stage. But there is much more leg-work to be done in order to have that young transgender boy mentioned at the beginning of the article to feel safe and welcomed in the sport he loves.

Image: World Curling Federation/Alina Pavlyuchik

ben246

3 comments

  1. a couple of quibbles:

    “Today, there is hope to crush the binary gendered philosophy in sport. In curling, both females and males take part in the mixed doubles category.”

    Mixed doubles is as ‘binary’ as any other (common) variant of curling: the teams are specified by sex — in this case one man, one woman.

    From the Macleans article:

    “Its virtues start with an inherent emphases on equality: mixed doubles puts team members and genders on even footing in terms of both influence over the game and public recognition. ”

    Thing is, there isn’t equality — one player throws two rocks, the other three. There is a deliberate asymmetry. If you want a version of curling with more ‘equality’, then traditional mixed curling is it: a four person team, two men, two women, each throwing the same number of stones. (And accessible to players from 5 to 100 as well. Just as a bonus.)

    Mixed doubles is a made-for-TV game for young, fit competitors. And that’s fine — it’s an entertaining game (and TV networks love it because it fits comfortably in a two hour time slot AND costs very little to cover). But it’s no more ‘equal’ than traditional mixed curling and is, if anything _less_ inclusive than the traditional (as a pushing-60 guy with compromised balance I’ll never be able to play it, for example).

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    • What I focus on when I state ‘binary gender philosophy’ is the philosophical side, not the biological. The belief that males and females cannot play in the same league, let alone the same team.
      For example, could you imagine the uproar if a woman were to make the NHL?

      What this article is saying is that mixed doubles curling at the Olympics may not be totally equal, however it demonstrates on a large public stage that it is acceptable for women and men to play on the same team. Therefore challenging the faulty belief that what gender a person may be is more important than skill when it comes to what league they should play in.

      Mixed doubles curling does not show perfect equality, nor equity between males and females. But, it blows the doors off the perception that women and men should stay within their social binaries in sport. As a result, broad public acceptance of mixed curling should sweep the wave of inclusiveness across ALL genders in sport.

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      • >The belief that males and females cannot >play in the same league, let alone the same >team.

        i don’t think that’s as prevalent within the sport as you think. at ‘my’ club there was, for several years a team of women in the ‘old men’s’ league — they were there because it was the strongest competition available locally for that age class. the day before yesterday i spared in the men’s open league — two sheets over was a team of teenage girls (that were, apropos to nothing, kicking the butts of their opposition). and their are two open leagues in town — teams can have any mix of men or women on them.

        >For example, could you imagine the uproar >if a woman were to make the NHL?

        manon rheaume.

        there haven’t been others i assume because (a) it’s an uphill battle in hockey — nhl players are, as a group, genetic freaks even for men and (b) there are significantly more opportunities for women to play at a high level than there were in manon’s day.

        >What this article is saying is that mixed >doubles curling at the Olympics may not be >totally equal, however it demonstrates on a >large public stage that it is acceptable for >women and men to play on the same team.

        so does traditional mixed curling, only (IMHO) more so. it also has the advantage of being more ‘accessible’ (for lack of a better word) to players of every skill level, every age and every degree of physical ability or disability. mixed doubles is popular because it’s on TV. it’s on TV because it was _designed_ to be extremely TV-friendly.

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