BY ALAN WANG
“How do I tell my daughter she can not continue to play sports because she’s a girl?”
The gender gap in sports has been existent all throughout history. In the past, women were seen as inferior and did not have the physical capability to play sports. Presently, there are also many issues regarding the gender gap in sports.
For example, according to a study made by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports, women make up around 40 percent of sports participation, but only receive about 4 percent of media sport coverage. Also, the likelihood for women to receive sponsorships from brands is much lower than their male counterparts.
Additionally, the public opinion of women playing sports also causes a gender gap. Women are not encouraged to play sports because they are not generally seen as athletes. The toxic stereotypes of sports discourage femininity in sports and this also causes a severe gender gap.
However, during the lockdown caused by the pandemic, there has been an unexpected increase of gender gap in sports.
With the pandemic, many sports teams have been closed to protect the safety of their athletes. In Britain, their soccer teams have had massive closings. However, elite teams were given special dispensations during the four week lockdown. The top six tiers of men’s soccer were allowed to continue training and competing, but only the top two tiers of women’s soccer were allowed to continue training and competing. This shows that even if the men and women were in the same soccer league, many women would not be able to participate in the sport while the men could continue with their lives.
In an interview made by the New York Times, it shows the impact of the gender gap of sports in the pandemic. Lisa Bloor, the mother of her daughter, Abby, an elite league soccer player, was interviewed. Lisa mentioned that her daughter was confused because the men in her same soccer league could continue to play but she could not. Lisa did not know how to explain to her daughter that the reason she could not play was because she is a girl.
Also, during the pandemic, an investigation was launched on November 30, 2020 to expose the gender disparity in the government funding of the Gaelic Games in Ireland. The investigation by the Oireachtas Committee on Sport showed that the government spent a total of $3.7 million on the sports event, however $3 million was funded towards men’s sports and $700,000 was funded towards women’s sports. The pandemic caused a decrease in the sports budget, causing the disparity to increase.
Currently, there are many female teams struggling to support themselves due to the funding disparity. They are unable to cover the cost of basic and essential equipment needed for the sport. Some teams such as the Kilkenny Camogie team even resort to using the lottery, starting GoFundMes and collecting church donations to fundraise while their male counterparts do not have to do so.
The disparity in funding by the government has also caused many women to lack coverage of traveling and health recovery expenses. During the time of the pandemic, this is extremely impactful because expenses need to be used in order to keep athletes safe. For instance, more money needs to be spent on traveling to limit the athlete’s contact with others. The pandemic has also burdened finances, making it even harder for women’s sports teams to gather funds necessary.
The gender gap in sports can be fixed in very easy ways. People need to remember that men and women are equal and discrimination because of gender is not acceptable. Women have the same right and capability to play sports just like men. Sports need to be recognized not as a man’s activity but as a person’s activity. In regards to the disparity of the funding of men and women in sports, women need to have the same equipment, traveling fundings and health protections as men, meaning that the funding should be the same.
Everyone should be given the same opportunity to play sports regardless of their gender.