The Importance of Mix-Gendered Sport

Gendered issues in sport are created by a binary society in which the inclusion of mixed- gendered sport are often not present. Volleyball is an example of a gender divided sport. The mixing of men and women in sport has always been a taboo subject, where sport is typically seen as a masculine activity to which women participate for health reasons as opposed to pleasure of the participation. Non-binary sport follows similar rules to that of gendered volleyball, with slightly relaxed rules to encourage the continuation of the rally. The sport is organized by playing teams of three men and three women, all playing positions in rotation. The organization of the court is set up for women to hold the hitting positions while men dig for the return of the ball.

Mixed participation for equality? (Source: Shuttershock)

The inclusion of non-gendered practices in sport is important to allow for growth and acceptance for both genders within sport. Women within sport are marginalized based on gender, furthering the inequality of gendered sport in society. Sport can be thought of as a reflection of society in which men are thought to be the top competitor and is based on power relations, as opposed to skill. When society attaches stigmas to sports or athletes based on gender, there is an increase of the power struggle between men and women athletes. The inclusion of mixed-gender will aid in breaking these ideals.

Men and women playing on the same team at a highly competitive level bends societies ideals surrounding gendered play. It is even further reinforced by allowing these teams to be covered by the media so that there is exposure for younger generations. There are difficulties in having mixed-gendered teams, but those issues are specific to the players and are usually based on factors that are faced by both genders within all sport.

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Featured image: Men and women playing mixed volleyball at a competitive level together. (Photo credit: Toru Nakakoji)

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