Saturday, August 06, 2005

female athletes shafted AGAIN

This time, at the annual summer X Games held this year in Los Angeles.

The only events open to women? Wakeboarding and skateboarding.

The organizers of the X Games claim that "female athletes in many extreme-sports categories have not reached a high-enough level to add arenas for women."

Not so true, according to most female athletes participating in extreme sports. They aren't even given the chance to try out, let alone compete.
One of them is Kim Klisak, 24, who founded the Women of Freestyle Web site for female riders in what is known as bicycle motocross--also known as BMX--in which cyclists on 20-inch-wheeled bicycles perform tricks and stunts on flat ground and wooden ramps.

"Seven female BMX riders had a freestyle park demonstration at last year's X Games and ESPN ignored us," said Klisak.

Even the few female participants that compete in the X Games get shafted, with the events scheduled at known low-spectator times of the day, leaving the men's events to occur when the crowd is much larger. Says Mark Sperling of Op Girls Learn to Ride, "Women's divisions are a side show to the men's events."

And still, it doesn't end there. The winners of the female divisions get far less in prize money than their counterparts in the men's events, which, according to organizers, is based on ticket sales. Since obviously nobody wants to watch the women's events (not because they're scheduled at inconvenient times or barely publicized, of course), the women don't deserve as much in prize money. Sounds like perfect logic to me.

These organizers, though, are rife with gender-equity rhetoric:
"Wakeboarding appeals to women because it is a family-oriented sport," said Patrick Wampler, media director at World Sports and Marketing, a Winter Park, Fla., producer of the wakeboarding event for the X Games...referring to the team members needed to run the boat."

Because women base their interest in sports on whether or not it's conducive to "family time." Because all women really care about is their family, not winning some silly prize at some silly world-renowned sporting event.

This all follows, though, with the recent disturbing trend regarding women's sports:
As a share of television air time, women's sports coverage has declined from 8.7 percent in 1999 to 6.3 percent in 2004, according to a July study by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. With male competitors getting over 91 percent of the sports coverage last year, men claim 95 percent of ESPN's audience.

And, lastly, I really didn't think people still thought like this:
Many male organizers see the event [moto freestyle] as too dangerous for women. "Women are sensible and, as a husband, I can say that moto freestyle is a quasi-daredevil sport," said Paul Taublieb, president of the Malibu, Calif., Media-X International, Inc., which is organizing the "moto" events at the X Games. "Women are not very high caliber athletes and one mistake can lead to grave consequences."

Really, Paul. I thought we got over this vein of thinking, like, 20 years ago. Not high caliber athletes my ass. I'd like to see you compete in the event of your choice with the top female athlete in said sport. One mistake can lead to grave consequences for male athletes, too, you know. But, oh wait, I forgot -- they're naturally inclined to be better athletes than women, so of course, they wouldn't make a mistake and, I don't know, die, would they? Guess those guys who've had major life-threatening accidents on the dirt moto freestyle courses (or any other extreme sport for that matter) were just flukes, right? Or maybe they were just "girly men."

No comments: