Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The World Cup is Now Underway

The World Cup began this week. Probably most of you made the assumption that the World Cup means men are playing, and maybe wondered why it wasn't in the news. Did you even know there is a Women's World Cup?

In Germany, people have heard of the Women's World Cup, including the 73,680 people at the sellout crowd for Sunday's opening game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It's too bad that in the United States, we miss out on so many fun exciting events because only one group of athletes get the vast majority of the coverage, that group on top of our athletic hierarchies - able bodied men. Charlotte went to the Paralympics in Atlanta, and the attendance at the events was sparse, even though the Paralympics (for athletes with disabilities) were sold out four years before in Barcelona.

Last weekend, we both attended the able-bodied USA National Track and Field Championships here in Eugene and were so glad to be at an athletic event where men and women's events appeared to be equally scheduled, and where both male and female athletes were featured in the commentator's remarks and on the big screen.

The language we use gives us clear indications about who's on top. When we talk about a sporting event with both men and women's tournaments, we assume men are playing so we don't have to mention which tournament we are discussing. For example, when the media discusses the "Final Four, " we assume we are talking about the men's NCAA basketball tournament. If we are talking about women, we have to specifically say the Women's Final Four.

Again, our hierarchies limit our experiences. When one group gets placed above others, all of us miss opportunities.