Regardless of what you may think, gender inequality still exists. While women have come a long way, there’s still a long way to go, especially when it comes to the world of sport.
Since the idea of athletic competition came around, sports have always been viewed as a “manly activity”, that you must be strong and muscular to compete and do well. This is what began the belief that men were superior to women at sport, even though gender has no effect on an individual’s athletic skills.
While we’ve seen significant progression, it’s still far from over. In late December, when Penny Oleksiak was given the Lou Marsh award for Best Canadian athlete, there was an outcry from a noticeably male audience about how Sidney Crosby should have won the award. While Crosby had a good calendar year in 2016, Oleksiak was far more accomplished with her success in the Rio Summer Olympics.
On Jan. 14, during Hayley Wickenheiser’s retirement ceremony, Wayne Gretzky referred to her as the female Gordie Howe. While I’d imagine that the Great One meant well with that comment, this goes towards the issue of inequality in sport: Gretzky doesn’t think of her as the most dominant female hockey player, he thinks of her as the female version of the most dominant male hockey player.
We aren’t even getting to the entitlement factor of male athletes, some who think that they can get whoever they want because they’re good at sports. Evander Kane was accused of sexual assault in late 2015/early 2016, with his counterclaim being that it was an attempt to defame him.
There has been some progress in how athletes who beat their spouses have been dealt with, but the fact that it took this long, goes to show how it probably shouldn’t be called progress. In March 2014, Ray Rice was suspended only two games for domestic violence charges. The NFL barely batted an eye at it until TMZ released video footage of him committing the crime in an elevator. Due to the controversy, the NFL caved and suspended him indefinitely, and he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens. This action saw its impact in other sports.
In October 2014, Slava Voynov was arrested, suspended, and later deported for his domestic violence charges, even if the Los Angeles Kings held onto him as long as possible. The NHL wouldn’t even let him participate in the World Cup when team Russia tried to sneak him in.
This doesn’t just apply to players either. Several organizations still struggle to handle athletes who have domestic abuse problems. Take the Chicago Blackhawks, for example. The star they currently market the most, Patrick Kane, is not even two years removed from a sexual assault case. Also, Bobby Hull, who they market as one of the greatest Blackhawks ever, and have him come to events showing the franchise’s history, has had several domestic violence incidents himself. This includes beating his second wife, threatening her with a shotgun when she filed for divorce, and beating his third wife. Not exactly the best role models for the Blackhawks.
We’ve still gone a long way to go for gender equality in sports, and it’s certainly trending there. Female athletes such as Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, and Christine Sinclair have all shown that they can dominate sports just as well as men can, and eventually we’ll hit the point where female athletes will garner as much fame and fortune as male athletes.