Barriers to Women in Sport: Something of the past?

I came across a news article yesterday about a 13-year old girl from the UK who has been playing football (soccer) since age eight. Recently, her physical education teachers at her school have informed her she cannot play football any longer, as it’s “not a girls’ sport.” In addition to this, she has received criticism since she began playing football, often being called a man or a lesbian. Later in the article, the Children’s Commissioner in Wales commented on this and said that it is “surprising” in 2018, but reflective of wider attitudes in society.

In relation to this news article, I read an interesting scholarly article from the Journal of Sociology of Sport. In the article, there is a discussion of the “Frailty Myth”, coined by Collette Dowling in her research-based book. In the book, she “argues that women are as capable as men of excelling in sports and that in fact there are no biological reasons for women to stay off the sporting field.”

After reading this news article and scholarly article, I also thought back to our Sociology of Sport course and the textbook content about gender and sport. We spoke in class about barriers that women faced when it came to sport in the past, such as the pseudo-science that some men and women were convinced of that if they ran too much, their uterus would “fall out.” Also, there were social-cultural norms in society that aimed to prevent girls/women from sport and physical activity. What is interesting to me is, we spoke about these things in class as though they were things that happened in the past, and as though we have come very far in society since these strange ideas were being given to women in society. Although women in sport have certainly come a long way, after reading this article above and many others that have surfaced recently in the media, it proves that our society still has a ways to go.

Featured image: source


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