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Research: Canada
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Role of Women in Sports

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Articles, Essays...
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By: Yalda Mahmoudi
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Why is it that men have always had more freedom than women? They even have more freedom and choice in entertainment and sports. Women have been jumping through all sorts of different hoops to get what is rightfully theirs, what should have been handed to them without any struggle has to be achieved by force. But men, across the world, have it much easier; they just have to make up their mind up about doing something and that is it. They donít have to fight for it at all; it is theirs as long as they decide to keep it.

Women of different ethnicities, cultures and religions have different restrictions, when it comes to sports. For example, practicing Muslim women are almost excluded from all competitor sports, due to the fact that they canít be showing any skin or hair, which means they canít wear any team uniforms and they canít be visible in front of men. Now, the kids that are born in these households are automatically excluded from sports after puberty whether they are religious or not. The only sport they are truly allowed to participate is in the one that is done at home.

Most of the sports that involve running are thought to be inappropriate for Middle Eastern girls after puberty. They are to be practicing their cooking and sewing and should not be concerned about kicking the soccer ball around regardless of how good they are. Growing up, I was pulled out of ballet and gymnastics because, the girls that were in those sports for long periods ended up with muscular legs and broken toes. A proper girl in my family should not have any bit of defined muscles and her toes are to be as girly as possible. So, after the age of ten, I was not allowed in any sports that concentrated on muscle definition too much. Swimming was about the only thing that was fully approved, but when I got to high school and I was in the swimming team, my parents started to worry way too much about how wide my shoulders were getting and how big my upper body was.

It is clear that the sports experience for girls and women has been greatly enhanced over the past decades: besides traditionally popular menís sport such as baseball and soccer, a variety of womenís sport have generated attention in the media; many women actively participate in local sports groups or enjoy sports at fitness centers; girls take part in various sports clubs at school and the number of girls participating in these clubs is getting closer to that of boys.

It is no exaggeration to say that sports experience has become an essential aspect of culture for women. It provides communication with other people and improves the physical, mental and emotional well being of women. In other words, sports are important for women since they have significant value for the quality of womenís lives.

It seems that the gap between men and women is sport is getting smaller in terms of statistics and systems. However many issues still remain. First, there is the fact that the participation of women in sport has always been of a lower percentage than that of men. Traditional views of gender roles and stigmas attached to womenís abilities seem to influence the rate of participation. For example, people tend to feel negatively when mothers enjoy sports are utilizing baby-sitters or child-care facilities, while it may not be the case for fathers.

Another issue is that women are under-represented in the leadership of sport. The number of women coaches, directors of sport organizations, physical education teachers, and researchers is very small. Hidden curriculum at school, which covertly imposes womanliness or manliness upon children and fixes gender roles in society, is another problem. It is urgent that we create a society, where every woman and man can play and enjoy sports regardless of gender or sex.

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Research: Articles & Essays

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