The End of the Beginning for Women’s Sport?

Have you ever thought that 13 year-olds ought not compete in the 100m? Or that 17 year-olds ought not do the javelin? Very strange people aside, the answer is no. It would be ridiculous; they’re physically able, it’s safe, it’s fun. Why limit their option?. Similarly, why shouldn’t women be allowed to take part in all professional sports. Anybody? No?

Despite this, as recently as the 2016 Rio Olympics there were 161 events in which men could compete but only 136 for women. In an important moment for women’s sport, at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games this barrier will be broken down, with 136 medals available to women and 134 to men.

Whilst there are still very important issues around women and sport, the importance of this victory must be stated. Imagine you are a 10 year-old boy, fascinated by the Olympic canoeing (one of the men-only events at Rio 2016); after the Games, you find out where you can canoe in the local area and you go and do it. Now consider a girl in that scenario. Will she be as fascinated if she sees that women aren’t being allowed to compete? Probably not. Evidence of this is the surge in popularity in women’s boxing since it was introduced at the 2012 London Olympics.

Sport is played in some form or another across the entire world. Partly for enjoyment, partly due to its importance towards both physical and mental health. It seems strange that in 2020 we are still only just reaching this equality of opportunity in such an important part of our culture as a species. However, seemingly we are there. Enjoy it.

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Chris Price

February 2021
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