Week 15- Sex & Abuses of Power in Sports

Don’t Dismiss the Washington Football Report as Just Another Problem With the Franchise, by Clair McNear, ends asking readers one important question: “Is there any franchise where revelations of a toxic, abusive, or sexist culture would surprise you?” To answer her, I respond no. If we were to expand her question to all sports- “Is there any sport or organization where revelations of a toxic, abusive, or sexist culture would surprise you?” I again would answer no. I am not surprised by the sexist culture at the Washington Redskins Franchise, I am not surprised by the abuse in USA Women’s Gymnastics, I am not surprised at how many toxic men were outed by the #MeToo movement. I’m not surprised anymore when it comes to harassment, sexual assault, rape, etc. As women, we are used to these words, these circumstances, this treatment. I don’ t remember who it was but one of my classmates asked our guest speaker Katie Taylor who was speaking on her article, “Here’s the Football Heroine,” if she had come across reports of women or girls being abused or taken advantage of when playing games against male teams. Taylor hadn’t, but I thought the question was of considerable importance. It made me wonder, in sports history, is there anyone studying the abuses of women in the sporting world? We’ve discussed gender pay and general recognition inequality in sports. We’ve read Futbolera which focuses on women and how their bodies were controlled by men leaving sport as an avenue to push boundaries. But we haven’t so far encountered a specific focus of Sports History that focuses on the physical or mental abuse women have encountered in sport. Perhaps this is because finding evidence in history can be daunting, for who would record evidence of sexual assault- but maybe mental or physical abuse/toxic culture would be more likely to be documented in the way officials or coaches micro-managed female athletes from their food to their clothes to their ability to live a ‘normal’ life. After writing and taking a moment to collect my thoughts, it makes sense that there might be an area of sociological or psychological academia already committed to this avenue of research but maybe sports history could blend its way into that academic field to make it more specialized. I think it’s an important topic which should be covered by the sports history field.

2 Thoughts on “Week 15- Sex & Abuses of Power in Sports

  1. Great post, I think this is an issue of men in power not only in sports. Marriages, celebrity’s, and just men in power take advantage of women all the time. Although you do a great job of not only focusing on the scandals but also the feeling of male dominance. Using “Futbolera” as an example of keeping women down, is effective and a good way of showing the male dominance sports. By the end when you state this topic should be covered more in sports I also agree. This isn’t something we hear about much today unless it’s Women’s pay or Michigan State.

  2. Hey Shiloh. I really liked your blog post and how you quickly identified the main theme and idea of the articles. I can answer the question above with the same definitive response, and as I reflect on what we have learned and discussed throughout the semester, I believe our answers are highly reflective of the inherent domination and structural influences of patriarchal ideals within athletics. I also loved how you included the discussion between Katie Taylor and one of our peers, because although her answer was accurate for the context, it is interesting and honestly disturbing to reflect on how many untold stories of sexual assault survivors within athletic organizations or teams occurred that can not be validated by historical evidence (most likely b/c female victims were not listened to or valued at the time?)

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