Cash prizes and inequality - is it allowed?
Example - the Fastpaddle Canoe Association conducted an open division canoe competition. On the day, the first male who crossed the line received a cheque for $3000. The first female received an empty envelope and was told she would receive a cheque once the association had worked out its budget. The prize money later allocated to her was $200. When queried, the association explained that the higher percentage of prize money pool being allocated to men was due to the men having greater representation in the event.
Although the Fastpaddle Canoe Association is likely to be a voluntary body and therefore exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act, it is worthwhile pointing out to them that the basis of prize money allocation is discriminatory. This practice does not encourage women to enter the competition and thereby increase the prize money pool.
Can girls play on a boys team?
Example - a local rugby club conducts an under 12 competition. The Touchdowns enter a team; however, other teams are surprised to find that L Smith and K Jones are girls. These teams complain to the association claiming that their players would be intimidated by having two girls in the opposing team and would be apprehensive about full tackles for fear of hurting the girls. As a result, the club's executive decides that the girls cannot play in the competition.
This appears to be discriminatory. Discussions could be held with the club executive about grading players into teams according to their ability and not on the basis of their sex. If this is not successful, an enquiry could be made as to the possibility of lodging a complaint. Again, the "voluntary body" issue would have to be considered.
As a coach, what advice can I give to a player in care who is opposing a pregnant player?
People's perceptions about pregnancy often lead them to believe that pregnant women are more vulnerable to injury than they actually are, particularly in the first trimester (the first three months) of pregnancy. You, as a coach could recommend that participants obtain relevant medical information about the risk and benefits of playing when pregnant to ensure that they are aware of the facts of the situation. This can apply to anyone engaged in sport or physical activity who has difficulty accepting pregnant women on the field of play: Education may be the key to better attitudes.
Should an organisation formalise its guidelines about pregnancy in sport by having women sign a disclaimer, release or indemnity if they wish to continue to play while pregnant?
It is a good idea from a legal perspective. The more the organisation does to protect itself and its participants, the more likely it is to avoid liability. Administrators should obtain legal advice about the form and wording of documents to be used for these purposes.
How can a sporting organisation best protect itself against potential claims for injuries to pregnant women or their foetuses that occur in sport?
Sporting organisations should advise pregnant women who wish to continue playing sport that there may be risks, and that they should obtain medical advice about their health, and about whether to keep playing and for how long. They can do this by including such information in the registration form for that sport or competition, and by displaying a similar notice in a prominent place where participants will see it.
Sporting administrators may ask participants to sign a release that will indemnify the administrator and the sporting organisation if claims are made for injury that occurs during sporting activity. However, the obligation to take reasonable care to prevent injury or harm to participants cannot be removed, and agreements of this sort cannot always protect the organisation or its administrators. Agreements that seek to absolve organisations from liability for injuries in respect of pregnancy alone maybe discriminatory, too, and could then attract other litigation.
Other ways in which sporting organisations can protect themselves against such claims include ensuring that their insurance is up to date and that it provides appropriate cover. Appropriate cover means;
they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that rules of the game are followed, and that the playing environment is safe for all players,
their policy documents clearly outline their position on pregnancy in sport (for example, a club may have a policy that pregnant women should continue to play if they wish to and if medical advice supports that choice).
Why should we be trying to increase the number of women coaches?
First, women represent an untapped resource in many sports. Although female athletes constitute as much as 50 per cent (and sometimes more) of the membership of many national teams, the percentage of women who coach at that level is significantly lower. With so any women having a successful high performance competitive experience, the fact that so few enter coaching means there is a huge loss of knowledge and potential coaching expertise for any sport.
Second, it is well documented that women have different life and leadership experiences, values and attitudes. One of the reasons that corporations have focused on advancing women into leadership roles is to assure themselves that they have a full range of perspectives available to confront business challenges. Sport, too, should be more active in tapping into the experience and expertise that women can bring to coaching.
In addition to increasing the number of women coaches, we should examine our models of coaching. Accepted ideas about leadership are changing. The traditional view of leadership was founded on male-oriented values of rationality (everything must be based on reason), competition (only the strong survive) and independence (every man for himself). These assumptions have shaped the culture of many of our organisations, including sport. When we simply try to fit women into this existing leadership (coaching) model, they often are isolated, receive little support, have limited opportunities and do not stay around, thereby perpetuating the prevailing thinking that women can't take the pressure.
We need to look at coaching differently. We need to ask some hard questions and then develop models of coaching that can accommodate both men and women.
Does it really matter if the coach is a man or a women? Shouldn't you just hire the best coach for the job?
"Best" is a word that can get us into a lot of trouble. How we define the word varies according to our own experience, values and attitudes. There are also commonly held assumptions about what makes an effective leader. These assumptions are changing, as are society's ideas about which qualities make the best leader or coach.
Of course we want the best coaches working with our teams and clubs. They are the ones who have the most appropriate experience, skills, qualifications, values and attitudes for the particular coaching context.
Where is it written that female athletes must be coached by female coaches?
There is obviously no rule that states that female athletes must be coached by female coaches. Coaches who have worked with both genders will say that they coach girls and women differently than they coach boys and men. Why is that? The life experiences of girls and women are different from those of boys and men; it is generally accepted that females have a different psychological makeup. If we agree that effective coaching is as much about mental preparation as it is about physical preparation, then the need to understand how an athlete approaches her sport mentally is evident. Growing up as a female provides women coaches with a unique empathy with the thinking and feeling processes that girls and women bring to competitive sport and that can be a significant advantage. So women coaching girls and women can be a very positive experience.
Are special programs for women coaches really not just discrimination in reverse?
When people talk about "reverse discrimination", what they are saying is that the status quo is fine for now and that change will come naturally and slowly overtime. Their fear is that speeding up the process will take opportunities away from those currently benefiting from the system. To target certain groups and offer them special measures is the proven way to eliminate imbalances supported by outdated traditions. Those currently receiving the benefits must learn to share the existing resources and programs. Since we are seeking a sport system in which all persons have opportunities to participate, it is women and other currently marginalized groups who need assistance.
Should I wear a sports bra while exercising?
An unsupported 12B bust can bounce up to 8cm and a 16DD bust to 19cm during high impact exercise like running, which can contribute to back pain. Not wearing a sports bra may also lead to tearing and dragging on the coopers ligaments which are tiny tissues that give breasts shape, sometimes resulting in permanent damage such as breast sag. To minimise or prevent these issues always wear a supportive sports bra when exercising as this is just as important to your body as the right footwear.
Australia's leading sports bra manufacturer, Berlei undertakes a program of ongoing research and development with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and has a range of sports bras with varying support factors to suit a range of activity levels. For more information visit Berlei's website (see related links).