You may have heard that on Friday November the 13th the female ski jumpers who are fighting to be included in the 2010 Winter Olympics, had their appeal denied.
In case you aren’t aware of the intricacies of the case let me give you a brief overview. Our courts have determined that female ski jumpers have been discriminated against because of their gender. The ruling on Friday was not about discrimination, which has been determined, but about whether or not the IOC falls under the jurisdiction of Canadian Law.
So at this point we are hosting games that our courts have found to be discriminatory against female athletes but our charter cannot be applied because the discriminatory decisions are being made outside of our country.
I would like to make a final plea to the IOC to add a female ski jumping event and I have two reasons why I think this should happen.
First and foremost we must consider gender equality. This isn’t about ski jumping it is about the history of female sport and by simply adding one female ski jumping event Vancouver will be the first city in history to host a completely gender inclusive Olympics. That is something that Vancouverites can be proud of and that is something that Vancouverites and all Canadians should fight for. We talk about the legacy that the Olympics will leave, well as Canadians who honour our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, let us leave a legacy of equality on the Olympics by allowing us to add female ski jumping to our games.
Secondly, for the love of sport we should let these women jump. Think back to your most cherished memories in sport. Silken Lauman having her leg torn apart by an oar and against everyone’s expectations winning an Olympic medal. Or Simon Whitfield who crashed his bike during the inaugural triathlon in Sydney and came back against all odds to win the gold medal. The athletes who touch us the most are the ones who make it to the podium against all odds.
A lot of people are talking about tickets to the gold medal game in Hockey. What I want is a ticket to the female ski jumping event. If these women are allowed to compete you won’t find three more worthy and grateful Olympians on any podium.
Read more about the history of women in the Olympics by clicking on the link below and then go to www.wsj2010.com and sign the petition.
Help us spread the word. Help us fight to make the Vancouver 2010 Olympics the first gender inclusive Olympic games in History.
In Praise of Female Athletes Who Were Told No
For the 14 female ski jumpers petitioning to be included
in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver
Despite the glory of color it’s easy to be the butterfly;
It’s hard to be the dog or to remain like the river stone.
For Christ sake little lady, sit down you’ve been told.
Because he thought that a woman short of breath was an affront to good manners,
Baron Pierre de Courbertin founded the modern Olympics with only the strength
of men in mind. The heft and depth of sport surely could not be good
for the reproductive organs of a lady—In 1896 at the first modern Olympics,
Stamati Revithi watched the men’s marathon and the next day started out
on her own forty kilometer run. She could not enter the stadium to finish,
as the men had done the previous day, so with one lap around the entire stadium
she finished the run that was thought impossible for a woman to complete.
The most unaesthetic sight the human eyes could contemplate, De Courbertin said,
was the female athelete. In 1922 Alice Milliat held a women’s Olympics
in Paris where eighteen women broke world records in sport.
De Courbertin demanded that Milliat drop the Olympic moniker from her games.
She refused until he agreed to integrate ten women’s events into the Olympics.
Milliat dropped the Olympic moniker from her games but Courbertin
only added five female track and field events to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
For the 1928 games the Canadian women’s Olympic team practiced
for the Olympic relay by passing the baton on the deck of the ship
that sailed them to Europe. At the same time a contingent of Canadian men
travelled to Amsterdam to petition the IOC to do the right thing
and drop female sport from the Olympics. The media called
the Canadian women’s team the Matchless Six for their athletic ability.
The New York Times called one of them, Ethel Catherwood, “the prettiest girl
of the games.” She became known as the Saskatoon Lily, for her “flower-like face.”
Surely, it was said, the Saskatoon Lily would become a movie star
but Catherwood was an athlete. She said she would rather gulp poison
than try her hand at motion pictures. She won gold in the high jump
and remains the only Canadian women to win a solo gold in track in field.
That same year the women ran the 800 metre race so hard that they crossed
the finish line and fell to the ground to catch their breath. The men of the IOC
found this disquieting. The 800 meter women’s race would not be reinstated
until 1968 in Mexico where Enriqueta Basilio would become the first woman
to light the Olympic cauldron.
Eva Dawes was a weak child and her father thought exercise
would strengthen her. He built her a high jumping pit
at her school. At a track meet in 1926 she won two gold medals
in the under 18 category. The officials then refused to let her jump
with the adults until her father walked onto the pitch,
grabbed the microphone and pleaded with the crowd to intervene.
The officials let Dawes jump again and she won another gold that day.
In 1935 she wanted to see life outside of Ontario
so she accepted an invitation to travel to the Soviet Union.
When she returned she was suspended from amateur sport
for cavorting with communists. The next year she boycotted
the Nazi hosted Olympic Games and sailed for Barcelona
to compete in the People’s Olympiad, championed
by trade unions, socialists and communists, then cancelled
with the first shots of the Spanish Civil War.
The athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen gave birth to her second child,
immediately started training, and six weeks later competed
in the 1946 European Championships. By 1948 she was back
in shape, held many world records but still the media thought
she was too old to represent her country and that she should stay home
to take care of her children. She won four gold medals at the 1948 Olympics
They called her The Flying House Wife.
In 1973 former Wimbledon singles champion Bobby Riggs
claimed that women didn’t have the strength to play tennis properly
and that he would beat any woman alive by virtue of his manhood.
He beat Margaret Court on Mother’s Day of that year.
He said “I want Billie Jean King. I want the women’s lib leader!”
He wore a “Men’s Liberation” T-shirt to practice for his match
with King and said that he wanted to be the number one chauvinist pig.
Tennis player Rosie Casals called Riggs “an old man who walks like a duck,
can’t see, can’t hear and besides,” she said, “he’s an idiot.”
A team of football players carried Billie Jean King
into the Astrodome while Bobby Riggs road in
on a chariot pulled by women. Billie Jean King beat him
three straight sets in a row.
Listen: here they come again trying to screw things up for the men. In 2005
the President of the International Ski Federation, Gian Franco Kasper, said
“Ski jumping is just too dangerous for women. It’s not appropriate for ladies
from a medical point of view.”
The chivalry playbook? For the Continental Cup in Germany the men’s
ski jumping team slept in a hotel while the women were billeted
in a farmhouse and barn, with a pile of manure outside their window,
awoken to a farm cat eating their food. Or they slept in a post office
in St Moritz, and under a dining room table in Trondheim.
It is easy to be the butterfly. It’s hard to sleep in the barn.
Perhaps your breasts are not aerodynamic.
Perhaps jumpsuits will increase the popularity of your sport.
“Come her little darling and I’ll teach you how to spread your V-style wider.”
At the top of the cantilevered tower you envision yourself in flight
and prepare your body to react without thought. You tighten the straps
of your helmet, position your goggles, slide onto the starting bar
to watch the wind work the flags with the possibility of flight
as you slide your feet ahead in the track, fold down
and zip into the inrun—you feel the compression
of the curve. You are over the knoll.
If you bend your knees you lose control.
You master the airfoil and steer with the slightest movement of your hands.
You look straight ahead and command every turn and nuance of posture.
You are flying. There is no other explanation.
Your body is muscle and memory held up by the wind.
Go to www.wsj2010.com and sign the petition.