Women in sports

There has never been a time  from the dawn of human civilization to the present when women have been involved in sports, as participants and as spectators but not as much as men have.  Are sports then a ‘male domain’ , a ‘masculine preserve’ ? Are the women in sports ‘unwelcome intruders’ ?

In a conservative society like India, married and unmarried women have to face objections and controversies while pursuing career in sports. Even if they win they are not given the due credit for their work as compared to men. The Indian women’s hockey team won a championship but was not given any monetary reward. [The Times of India, 21january,2010. Over the ILO’s report]. Though socio cultural factors account for gender differences, but this mindset is not only limited to India, but is sensed throughout the whole world.

Advertisements in sports section deal with commodities like shaving products, auto tyres, clothing and other items whose purchase is ordinarily decided by men. But the question stands still, that why such huge difference prevails ande still uncurbed. The following reasons may be a contributor :

1] It has been found by studies that female athletes are likely to be more aggressive than the women engaged in non competitive forms of recreation.

2] In 1890’s, even the medical experts debated on the issue that whether tough exercises endangered a girl’s capacity to conceive and bear children.

3] Sports historian such as Hening Eichberg and various feminist scholars used to say that menstruation, pregnancy, child birth, lactation and menopause create a different mindset for women.

But the times are changing now. 1920’s and 1930’s are regarded as ‘the golden era osf sports’. Even in 1895, Bergman ostenberg [of physical training college] who is known as female Darwinist commented that- “I try to train my girls to help raise their own sex and so to accelerate the progress of the race….for unless the women are strong, healthy, pure and true how can the race progress ? ”

Besides these reasons, a suburban wife in her thirties and forties is expected to remain physically attractive and sports are seen as a medium to stay fit . Nowadays more and more middle class wives and mothers are participating in sports as compared to their earlier generations. studies also show that those women  participate more in sports who have the same family background and thus more talent is coming out.

The exploitation of female athletes for the enjoyment of the spectator, commercial advantage is being checked strictly by various women’s divisions organizations and feminist groups. In these positive changes the role played by media cant be neglected . Women sports magazines publication number is increasing day by day, as well as the broadcasting time of women sports is also increased as compared to the past.

Apart from serving as sports staff, women have also succeeded as observers, writers and interviewers according to their abilities. Thus women must be freed from their cultural constraints in order to finally realize their potential.

Resource:

Women sports [Author : Allen Guttmann]

Emotional intelligence [Author : Daniel Goleman]

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Saina Nehwal’s Olympic win

Saina Nehwal… Sania Mirza… Mary kom… Different stars, different success stories. But one common thought unites them, i.e. they are all  women in sports. Sports women in India.

The developing nation with huge youth potential but also with poor infrastructure and neglected attention towards any other sport except Cricket. Though the scenario is changing now. The organization of commonwealth games may have resulted in huge corruption but also had improved the conditions on the ground as compared to the previous scenario. Stadiums had been built and spirit of sport get boosted with blooming talent which hadnt caught common eye’s attention previously. The talented one’s have attracted some sponsors too.

Money remains a big issue as it affects funding. Poor funding is the reason for poor infrastructure and scarcity of advanced equipments. At the town or district level tournaments the condition is very poor. Basic amenities are not there which affect not only the athlete’s capability to perform well but also restrict them from taking sports as a career. Their families don’t allow them to pursue it in lieu of economic concerns. The common mentality is  that there is not enough money in sports.

The problem becomes huge if the case is of a girl. Social mindset and cultural milieu plays havoc with most of the females sports career. Dreams are crushed and vision blurs with the continuous opposition from the family members. The nation where till today dowry is practiced under the veils and where women is still practically the weaker sex the idea of letting a girl enter into sports as a career option finds no rigid place. People in rural areas send their girl child to school after a great thought and most of them are not even sent which is reflected in the female literacy ratio.

But to look at the other side of the picture there are a few people who were able to cherish their dreams because of firm determination and will inspite of several obstacles of any kind. Sania Mirza was supported by her parents in Hyderabad since the early age. Thanks to their interest in Tennis. Sania took inspiration from Steffi Graff and set on the ride to the world of tennis where she made India proud. Her community raised questions over her dress code and later media too on the reasons of her 1st engagement being broken up.

Mary kom’s path too was not simple. Almost 8-9 years back when she started Boxing playfully she too didn’t knew where her path will take her. One day when she won at a small tournament and her photo was published in a newspaper her world almost came crashing over. Her father didn’t knew of her interest and when he came to knew he called her up and asked to come home. She was asked to leave the thought of Playing Boxing as she says that her father was concerned about her security. Society was the main cause. Her father was insecure over whether she will be able to get a good husband or even get married after her scars which she might get from Boxing. Mary was firm. She continued to play. She fell in love and the boy proposed her but she agreed only on a condition that he will let her play. The marriage was organized and her family was happy. Her husband turned out to be very supportive and she continued to play and win international tournaments. During the last Olympics in Beijing while she was winning and creating her path for the medal her husband was worried whether to inform her or not about the poor health of 1of their 2sons. The son needed an operation. Her husband informed her and she decided to quit the game and go back as she felt that her son needed her more. But her husband asked her to continue playing the game. She won and still today is playing at the London Olympics. She is one of the strong hope for medal for India.

Saina Nehwal who won Bronze in the single badminton championship at the London Olympics and made India proud had also faced many difficulties. She had the will to play and her father supported her from the start. When she was a child, she sat behind her father on scooter and he used to drop her daily many kms away for the Badminton academy in Maharashtra. Her studies suffered but she cope up. She also wanted to play and enjoy the teenage life like many others around her but she preferred to sweat on the court for fulfilling her dream. She got a great mentor in the form of P. Gopichand who had also won for India and she took maximum out of his coaching.

Thus it could be said that by breaking loose the chain of patriarchy and conventional rigid social structure which is biased against women, by providing better infrastructure and family support India can tap more medals and create laurels of its own.