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Why are reporters still describing female athletes as ’emotional’?

Last week, fans were shocked to hear that well-respected coach John Herdman will be leaving the Canadian women’s soccer team and heading up the men’s national team.

Herdman has led the women’s soccer team to two Olympic bronze medals and two CONCACAF champions, as well as numerous other international wins. The Canadian women’s soccer team is a force of nature, and is the only Canadian olympic team to win medals two Games in a row.

But, the article I’m going to write is not about Herdman himself or his move to the men’s team. Instead, it is about an article written in the Toronto Sun by Kurt Larson that diminishes the women’s soccer team’s accomplishments and frames Herdman’s transition as a step up within the industry.

The article itself contains a number of condescending remarks, but the top zingers are these:  “Matches aren’t won via athleticism and emotion as they are in the women’s game. Results are secured through tactics and technical ability on the men’s side” and “The source invoked San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the site of Canada’s infamous 8-1 loss, as being far different from playing at BC Place in front of thousands of screaming pre-teens, donning red face paint and Christine Sinclair jerseys. Simply put: The stakes are higher on the men’s side.”

Herdman’s experience with the women’s team far outweighs the capabilities of the former men’s soccer coach over the last few years. The women’s team has gone to the olympics to win medals while the men’s soccer team…well, they haven’t competed on that stage in a while.

My household is full of soccer fans. I often come down in the morning to the sport being played on television on Saturday mornings. I’ve watched the men play and I’ve watched the women play. I can personally tell you the women are stronger players on many levels. Their athleticism, their sportsmanship, and their skill far outweigh what I’ve seen at a men’s soccer game.

I urge you to watch a game for yourself. When the women are knocked to the ground or hurt, they get back up immediately and jump into the game with a level of ferocity unseen on the men’s playing ground. The men? Well, they hang on to their ankle and shed crocodile tears until the referee calls for a free kick. Is that the “tactic and technical skills” this reporter was talking about? If so, I’m not sure that is something to celebrate.

This year, people are celebrating the strength of women — and yet reporters are still using words like “emotion” to describe female athletes. My question is why? What makes a female athlete so damn more emotional than a male athlete? They both put their heart, soul, and body on the line each time they compete. They each try their best to represent their team and country on an international stage. And yet, every year some journalist seems to fit the word “emotion” into a sentence about a female athlete, despite the only difference being reproduction organs. It’s incredibly disappointing.

The Sun even admits their own feelings for female athletes when they explain why Herdman is so respected. “He even showed a bit of fire last year when he took the Toronto Sun to task over not covering his women’s team with the same enthusiasm it covers the men.”

I guess nothing’s changed.

Featured Image taken for Canada Soccer.

Underwhelming response to Paralympic runner setting a world record

Algerian Runner Abdellatif Baka won the 1500 metre race at the Paralympics in Rio, winning at 3:38:29 and beating out the 1500 metre Olympic world record. By all means, the world should be buzzing over the accomplishment and instead the response has been…underwhelming.

It is well known that the Paralympics get less attention than the Olympics, but it is disappointing that even in a modern age of near-obsessive global media attention that people are not paying attention to this event. Baka competed in the 1500m T13 race, which is ranked as the highest visually-impaired race in the running category, though the competitors are still considered legally blind. The T12 and T11 races are made for competitors that are further visually-impaired and this standard applies to other sports in the Paralympics as well.

Baka’s success in the 1500m dash demonstrates that sight is not a necessity for speed. Each of the competitors are able to tell where the other runners are while competing at top speed. It takes a phenomenal sense of control and awareness, reminding me of the powerful superhero Daredevil. This comic book character develops other ways to make up for his loss of sight, which actually makes him a stronger human in a lot of ways. It appears that Baka setting a gold record above and beyond Olympic athletes shows there are many ways to be a top competitive athlete.

The Paralympics are the second largest sports event in the world after the Olympics, but is given much less attention by the media. When trying to watch scheduled events, the Paralympics website kept crashing and limited information of the gathering was available. In comparison, there is a plethora of materials available for the Olympics. Admittedly, the Paralympics was developed many years after the Olympics, but has still been in existence since 1960. The Games showcase athletes of similar speed, strength, and skill — yet, no one is live-streaming the Paralympics at work. Why not?

Originally the Paralympics was founded by an English doctor named Dr. Ludwig Guttmann. He created the 1948 International Wheelchair Games when the Olympics were being held in London that same year. His goal was to develop sports therapy for soldiers that were injured during World War II. The first Paralympics was held in Italy 12 years later and has continued since. It has five classifications of athletes including people with visual impairment, physical disabilities, amputee athletes, people who have cerebral palsy and spinal cord issues and Les Autres for people with other physical disabilities that aren’t listed.

The Paralympic games have grown into a diverse event featuring several sports. The athletes are top caliber and train to dominate in their competition. If you haven’t checked out the “Paratough” website — whose catch phrase asks “are you tough enough to keep up with Canada’s Paralympic team?” — you would see how hard these athletes work to compete in these Games. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up! It is truly incredible to see these athletes in action and watch people overcome difficulty through the true mastery of their bodies.

The Paralympics are almost over, so tune in before it’s too late and cheer on our Canadian athletes.