The Cafe at On The Issues Online Magazine is deepening the conversations by continually adding the insights of progressive writers, thinkers and artists on the topics we address. Check back frequently for new commentary. If you wish to contribute to the Cafe, email cafe@ontheissuesmagazine.com.

We’re now taking comments in The CAFE! Join the discussion.

 

Listen, Really, I Mean It: Sick of Kids' Sports

by Phyllis Lombardi

September 6, 2012

Can I be honest here?  Get ready, this might be fresh at times.
 
I am so sick of organized sports...I can just well, write about  it!

Has anyone stepped back and realized just how crazy the organized sports part of our kids lives has gotten? How we let this go so far?
 
When I was a kid, I know I sound like an old lady. ... But seriously … when we were kids, you went outside and played. You used your imagination and your had fun. No stress, no score, no costly uniforms, bats, gloves or hotel rooms needed.



Read More:
Listen, Really, I Mean It: Sick of Kids' Sports
6 comment(s)

Women Coaching Network Takes to YouTube, Blog

by Mary Waechter

August 31, 2012

Emerging from Drexel University in Philadelphia this past year are two new projects designed to support women coaches and aspiring coaches. Dr. Amy Giddings, Sport Management Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel, launched the "Women's Coaching Blog" and the "Women's Coaching Network" to help sport administrators recruit and retain women coaches.

Research indicates that the number of female head coaches has been extremely limited, despite the growing participation of women in sports since the passage of Title IX in the 1970s. Through "Women in Coaching," Giddings is seeking to delve deeper into the current state of coaching, as well as to provide concrete …


Read More:
Women Coaching Network Takes to YouTube, Blog

Sports Confessions of a Teenaged Klutz

by Stacia Friedman

August 24, 2012

You remember me. When you were in grade school, I was the last kid picked by any team captain, regardless of the sport. Yes, that was me. The pale girl with the frizzy hair and arms like toothpicks.

My response to a ball hurled in my direction had nothing to do with winning. It was Duck and Cover. I viewed all sports as a potentially hazardous to my well-being and my experience only confirmed my fears. The brain of a bright boy in my seventh grade class was turned into Play Dough by a golf ball that hit him in the head. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I ask you: Why look for trouble?

My gym teachers didn't help. They singled me out for …


Read More:
Sports Confessions of a Teenaged Klutz

Gretel Bergmann, the Nazi Olympics and the Dream Being Who We Are

by Stacey Linnartz

August 17, 2012

When I decided to portray Gretel Bergmann, a female track and field athlete in Germany in the 1930s, I began by doing research. As an actor, I inhabit a character by studying the culture and events of the times, but also by drawing up a complex mixture of both of our histories and emotions. In this case, I researched the Olympics of 1936 in Berlin, but also thought about my mother's childhood in the 1960s in the U.S. and my years of training as an actor.

Gretel Bergmann was an outstanding athlete. She was a high jumper. She was German. And she was Jewish. She moved to England as a young undergraduate because she was not allowed to pursue sports as a Jew in …


Read More:
Gretel Bergmann, the Nazi Olympics and the Dream Being Who We Are

Olympics 2012: It's a Wrap

by Meg Heery

August 12, 2012

To answer the question of whether the 2012 Olympics marked a breakthrough for women in sport, all you have to do is look at the stats. For the first time, every sport had a women's competition. As of Saturday afternoon, women had won 56 of the U.S.'s 100 medals. Of those, 29 are gold. The youngest U.S. team member, a female swimmer named Katie Ledecky, won gold and broke an American record.  And that's just the Americans.

Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, at last, permitted women athletes on their teams.  That doesn't mean all countries had women athletes: The Telegraph


Read More:
Olympics 2012: It's a Wrap

Fighting Irish: Katie Taylor, The Best Amateur Boxer in the World

by Meg Heery

August 10, 2012


While much of the world was watching the exciting U.S. women's soccer finals, many of the rest of us were transfixed as Ireland made history. Specifically, we were watching Katie Taylor -- the victor in the very first women’s boxing tournament in Olympic history, who also became the pride of a nation.

The Irish are known for their hyperbole. But, this week, Irish commentators really meant it when they said that lightweight boxing champion Katie Taylor had brought the country to a standstill.

So many people tuned in to the fighter’s Olympic semifinal on August 8 that they crashed  the servers of the RTÉ,  Ireland’s national television …


Read More:
Fighting Irish: Katie Taylor, The Best Amateur Boxer in the World

The Olympic Spirit: It's a 'Girl Thing'

by Meg Heery

August 9, 2012

While the books have yet to be closed on these Games, there’s no doubt that “women setting records” has been a visible and recurring theme. Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana set a new Olympic record for the women’s marathon. The sound of records shattering, sometimes hourly, could be heard at the aquatics center and the velodrome.

And if it wasn’t clear a week ago that women really are the shining stars of these Olympics, Day 12, August 8, put all doubt to rest. As the Olympics start their kick to the finish, the influence of female athletes is accelerating all over London from beach volleyball to water polo. And for the first time, people get to see it all …


Read More:
The Olympic Spirit: It's a 'Girl Thing'

Women’s Soccer: “You cheated!” Really?

by Meg Heery

August 8, 2012


On Monday, in the soccer field at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, the United States and Canada met up in the Olympic women's soccer semifinal. It was a terrific, physical, aggressive, gripping match -- even for someone like me who does not watch that much women's soccer. And where did we find ourselves, yet again?  Not marveling at the amazing display of athleticism, but hand-wringing over accusations of cheating.
It was an amazing match, by any standard. In the 22nd minute of play, Canadian forward Christine Sinclair scored against the U.S. -- the first time this had happened since the Olympic quarterfinal in 2008. At 54 minutes, it became a …


Read More:
Women’s Soccer: “You cheated!” Really?
1 comment(s)

Women Box Their Way to Medals in 2012

by Meg Heery

August 7, 2012

Strength. Masculinity. Manliness. Such words have always defined boxing. When the sport's modern era began in the mid-19th century, boxing expressed ultimate masculinity while containing its more brazen tendencies and lending a legitimacy to men bashing at each other's heads. Yet, for as long as there has been boxing, there have been women boxers. Now, with women's boxing an official Olympic sport for the first time,  that legitimacy is theirs, too.

The desire to hit something hard has never been the exclusive province of men. The first women's match on record took place in 1722. These fights, billed as entertainment (as were men's bouts) included …


Read More:
Women Box Their Way to Medals in 2012

This is What Winning Looks Like

by Meg Heery

August 6, 2012



Where to begin? This weekend was so jammed with unbelievable moments for women Olympians that it’s tough to take it all in. Beginning and ending with contests that created a 72-hour explosion of civic pride all across the UK, women from a dozen nations crushed a slew of world records.

Rather than home in on any single event, it’s instructive to let the facts speak for themselves: The new face of athletics is female.

Go Team!
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins kicked off the British medal avalanche by winning rowing’s double sculls event on Friday. Saturday morning, Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking took the …


Read More:
This is What Winning Looks Like

Pioneers? Yes. Is it Enough? No.

by Meg Heery

August 5, 2012

Last week, the world glimpsed women from Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as they walked in the opening ceremony (several paces behind their male counterparts). Finally, every participating country allowed female athletes to represent.

Their performances have received less fanfare. Admitted through an International Olympic Committee rule that accepts certain non-qualifying athletes in order to broaden participation, these women never had a prayer on the playing field. But, as Olympic organizers and broadcasters tacitly acknowledged in press releases and smiling platitudes, the Games aren't just about winning. They're also about bringing out the best in humanity …


Read More:
Pioneers? Yes. Is it Enough? No.

"I like 'Em Big, I like 'em Proud..."

by Meg Heery

August 4, 2012

Thankfully, it looks like Olympics fans are finally embracing big, and embracing it where it's most visible: women's weightlifting. The sport has trended sharply upward this Olympics, and not entirely because of Samuel L. Jackson's tweets. The event's raw athleticism and mystique has generated stories celebrating the sport, and the interwebs have been agog with the witty, brazenly positive and media-friendly U.S. super-heavyweight lifter Holley Mangold and her teammate, Sarah Robles, as well as Britain's Zoe Smith. All the publicity has had the mostly delightful effect of bringing female lifters — and the issue of women's body size — increasingly into the spotlight. …


Read More:
"I like 'Em Big, I like 'em Proud..."

They're Olympic Champions. Not Prey.

by Meg Heery

August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2nd, was a huge day for American women in the prime-time Olympic sports. Rebecca Soni set a new world record and snagged gold in the women's 200m breaststroke. Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Franklin scorched the field leading up to the 200m backstroke final, leading their respective semifinal heats by 1.24 and 1.48 seconds. Beach volleyballers April Ross and Jen Kessy advanced to the round of 16, where they join legends Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. And in Judo, Kayla Harrison won the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. – ever.

Notwithstanding Harrison’s historic moment, of course all eyes were on the women’s gymnastics all-around …


Read More:
They're Olympic Champions. Not Prey.

Olympic Fencing: A Mighty Duel, a Sound Strategy

by Meg Heery

August 2, 2012

If you watched Olympic fencing this week, did you ever wonder what all that screaming was about?

As it turns out, vocalizing plays an important and time-honored role in the sport. And on Wednesday, the final rounds of the London Olympics’ women’s individual sabre competition gave us a convincing tale of the value of the scream.

Gold-medal favorite Mariel Zagunis scored quickly, as expected, against Jiyeon Kim of South Korea, scoring three points in the first three seconds of her bout. By midway through the second three-minute round, the American had built up a 12-to-5 lead. Then Kim started screaming: throaty, shrill, out-of-a-slasher-movie screaming …


Read More:
Olympic Fencing: A Mighty Duel, a Sound Strategy

Meet Your New Olympic Heroes

by Meg Heery

August 1, 2012

To borrow a line from Tina Turner, we really do need another hero. Smiling, youthful faces from high-profile sports are nice, but it would be nicer to see some faces with a few lines and rich, complex lives behind them. So here are six – and only two are from high-profile sports. (And also, McDonald's.)

Oksana Chusovitina - "Chuso" won a gymnastics gold medal in her first Olympics. That's not so unusual. What is unusual is that it happened in 1992 and she is still winning medals. Last year she vaulted to a silver medal at the world championships. Now, at age 37, she's a contender for a medal in the vault at her sixth Olympics. She began her career in …


Read More:
Meet Your New Olympic Heroes

Olympics Briefing: Mind the Gap

by Meg Heery

July 31, 2012
 
There was lots of talk about "coverage" over the weekend and into Monday's Olympic happenings. In the U.S., coverage of the day’s busy swimming schedule revolved around  the same gender mismatch. All the buzz was about whether Ryan Lochte would redeem himself after letting down the men’s team in Sunday’s 4x100 free, while predictably, the real swimming action was happening in “other” races:  Missy Franklin won a gold in the 100m back (see below),   Rebecca Soni took silver in the 100m breast), and there were strong swims by American Breeja Larson and Aussie Leisel Jones (.01 second separated them in 4th and 5th places in the 100m breast). …


Read More:
Olympics Briefing: Mind the Gap

Women and London 2012: Historic? Maddening? Both?

by Meg Heery


July 30, 2012

London 2012 made good on its hype as the Year of the Woman on Sunday. Kim Rhode made Olympic history when she won the gold medal in skeet shooting, becoming the first American to win medals (five now) in five consecutive Games. A woman brought the People’s Republic of Korea its first medal, a gold, when Ae An came out on top of the Judo 52-kilogram class. Women set new world records in weightlifting and swimming. And Great Britain’s Elizabeth Armistead delivered the host country its first medal this Olympics, finishing second in the women’s cycling road race.



Read More:
Women and London 2012: Historic? Maddening? Both?

London 2012, Day 2: Women Win, Not Unicorns

by Meg Heery

July 29, 2012

(In daily postings, On the Issues Magazine looks at the 2012 Summer Olympics through a feminist lens.)

What was that? A unicorn? No, just a female athlete.


Early yesterday morning, I watched Dana Vollmer set a new Olympic record in the qualifying heats of the 100-meter butterfly. Then I watched as NBC’s expert swim commentators spent most of their time agonizing about Michael Phelps’s unprecedented failure to reach the final round of the 400-meter individual medley. Who's being treated as the serious athlete here - the winner or the loser?

Meanwhile, the women’s 48-kilogram women’s weightlifting competition was mesmerizing. The …


Read More:
London 2012, Day 2: Women Win, Not Unicorns

Women in London 2012: Who to Watch

by Meg Heery

July 28, 2012

(Every day of the 2012 London Olympics, look to this space at On the Issues Magazine for updates about the Games through a feminist lens. Keeping us up to date is journalist Meg Ryan Heery, whose magazine credentials range from the art magazine DOT to Women's Health and Details, and who is (as she wrote in On the Issues Magazine earlier this month) also currently in training for the Hartford Marathon. On Twitter, you can check @megheery for her more frequent notes on the Games.— Ed.)

I am so excited for the Olympics! I don’t care if it’s all about the ads or the sponsorships or the ratings or …


Read More:
Women in London 2012: Who to Watch
2 comment(s)

Beyond Olympics: Why I Pledge to Attend Women’s Sports

by Veronica I. Arreola

July 23, 2012


You cannot open a paper or magazine (or their digital counterparts) lately and not read a story about an Olympian, especially if it is a woman. During the build up to the Olympics is where being a physically strong woman earns you a photo shoot. However, what happens after the flame is extinguished?

My gut tells me that people stop worshipping women who can lift 500 pounds and go back to worrying about the weight she carries on her body.

Mia Hamm led one of the most popular Olympic teams ever, yet the excitement could not sustain a professional women’s soccer league. Unfortunately, the men’s soccer league was not strong enough to carry a …


Read More:
Beyond Olympics: Why I Pledge to Attend Women’s Sports
1 comment(s)

Finding Legs and Body: Running the Marathon

by Meg Heery


July 16, 2012

When I was a kid, running was something boys did, usually scrambling through backyards and down alleyways in pursuit of something pointless, like a beat-up coffee can or other makeshift "home base." Such was the semi-idyllic, semi-urban life of the Western PA steel town where I grew up, like the many conservative, working-class cities dotting the Rust Belt. People didn’t run except to escape an imaginary enemy in the woods or race the hundred meters down the street from the manhole cover to the crack stretching across the pavement.

Because I was the youngest kid on the block, I always came in dead last in those games. Besides, outdoor shenanigans meant …


Read More:
Finding Legs and Body: Running the Marathon

Swish of the Basket: Why Basketball is Part of My Life

by Rebecca Ratero

July 10, 2012

When I began playing basketball eight years ago, I was 10 years old. I started as I might have started any other sport and enjoyed it about as much. I took dancing and swimming lessons; I liked to roller blade and I had ice-skated, too.

As the years passed, basketball slowly became bigger for me.

Then, one year, I had a coach in Spain, where I live, who got the blood into me. None of this nice-nice blandness. We were here to play basketball. We were here to fight. I was going to be tough and do things well because I could. We were going to run because we could. And I became more and more attached to the sheer feeling of playing.

Boom. …


Read More:
Swish of the Basket: Why Basketball is Part of My Life

Me, Babe and Prying Open the Lesbian Closets of Women Athletes

by Carolyn Gage

June 28, 2012

As a playwright attempting to reclaim the lesbian lives of historic women athletes like Babe Didrikson Zaharias, I run into a peculiar brand of homophobia.

Writing about women athletes is a joy. Women athletes defy expectations and societal norms. They run their own races. They inspire and they revolutionize. This is why slamming into their closets is such a jolt and disappointment.

Yes, it's true that lesbians in the spotlight have historically needed to disguise their orientation. The penalties for deviance from the heterosexual template have been swift and severe. This was especially true for women athletes, who, by the very nature of their …


Read More:
Me, Babe and Prying Open the Lesbian Closets of Women Athletes

40 Years Later, Title IX Victories Shadow Work Ahead

by Chris Lombardi

June 23, 2012

The anniversary of Title IX, signed into law 40 years ago, has unleashed a flurry of celebrations of women's athletics, along with reports that highlight remaining barriers to be addressed.

Signed into law on June 23, 1972 by President Richard Nixon, Title IX is simple in its wording: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

The law applies across all academic programs, but its most high-profile application has been in sports programs in educational …


Read More:
40 Years Later, Title IX Victories Shadow Work Ahead
1 comment(s)

Game Changer: My Ever So Modest Team-Naming Idea

by Joel Vig

June 19, 2012

My home state has been embroiled in a fight over the name of university sports teams, but I have a solution that reaches back to a great pioneering feminist and, perhaps, could change the future equality of sports and other endeavors in college.


I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was virtually a given that I would attend the University of North Dakota (UND), as did my parents and all of my five siblings. The University of North Dakota is on a beautiful little campus made up of ivy-covered buildings in the heart of Grand Forks, and I graduated in 1976 from the College of Fine Arts with a concentration in acting and directing. In classic …


Read More:
Game Changer: My Ever So Modest Team-Naming Idea

Ultimate Frisbee: Women Need A League of Their Own

by Sarah Schoenfeldt

June 12, 2012

Ultimate Frisbee, like many other sports, feels designed around male athletes' strengths. It prizes running fastest, throwing farthest and jumping highest. I learned to play Ultimate in college with separate men's and women's programs, but in the independent Ultimate community leagues are more commonly mixed or all male.

Some basics of the sport: Ultimate dates to 1968 and, according to USA Ultimate, is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. It is a competitive sport played by two teams of seven players each on a field with endzones. A score is made when a player catches a disc within the …


Read More:
Ultimate Frisbee: Women Need A League of Their Own
1 comment(s)

Yoga in the City: Counteracting Push and Shove

by Natalie Peart

June 4, 2012

I love movement and there is plenty of it in a city like New York, which is always bustling at a racetrack pace. Coming up on my third year as a New York City resident, I have developed a series of physical coping mechanisms for living in an area where stepping out onto a crosswalk makes me feel like I'm playing roulette with the grim reaper.

Yoga is the main medium in which I check in with mind and body, infused, as it is, with movements that make me feel good and motions where my body feels right at home.

The urban dweller is surrounded by extraordinary amounts of noise, brushing past and being pushed by other people, and I believe …


Read More:
Yoga in the City: Counteracting Push and Shove

Water Born: Swimming Along in Competition and Life

by Gwen Deely

May 24, 2012

My life aquatic was in full swing before I was born.

Evidently I was busy doing laps and polishing my freestyle in the womb because doctors had to pluck me out with a forceps two weeks after my due date. My parents gave me swim lessons at the tender age of three. A football-shaped float strapped to my body kept me from drowning.

My first race, when I was four years old, was memorable for its ferocity. So determined was I to win that the organizers were unable to stop me when a false start occurred. I swam my guts out while they were shouting, blowing whistles and finally jumping in. Even when I was held aloft above the water, my …


Read More:
Water Born: Swimming Along in Competition and Life

What's "Level" and Fair for Trans, Intersex and Disabled Athletes?

by Avory Faucette

May 21, 2012

As the Summer 2012 Olympics in London gear up, the media will be presenting a number of inspirational stories about athletes who have overcome odds, worked hard and sacrificed tremendously to achieve their dreams.

These stories speak to an ethos that has long been embedded in the collective imagination: athletics are about determination, grit and ambition, and they take place within a fair system by which anyone can emerge victorious. Unfortunately, some people will be missing from this inspirational pretty picture -- namely transgender athletes, intersex athletes and athletes with disabilities.

Not everyone in these categories is …


Read More:
What's "Level" and Fair for Trans, Intersex and Disabled Athletes?

Socially Prominent Sears Broke Victorian Records and Constraints

by Peggy Miller Franck

May 10, 2012

The multi-talented sports champion Eleonora Sears died four years before Title IX became law in 1972, but no one better embodied and advanced the idea of this empowering legislation than the woman who earned the nickname of the "Universal Female Athlete."

Born in 1881, Eleonora "Eleo" Sears burst forth from the Victorian-era constraints that restricted women to lives that were narrow, subordinate and safe. Eleo came to the battle well armed. Her social credentials -- the daughter of one of Boston's founding families and a great-great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson -- were impeccable.

She was blonde and strikingly blue-eyed, and …


Read More:
Socially Prominent Sears Broke Victorian Records and Constraints

A Woman, Without A Fish, On A Bicycle

by Cindy Cooper

May 5, 2012

In 1892, suffragist and temperance leader Frances Elizabeth Willard had a truly wild idea: she would learn to ride a bicycle. Willard made this brave decision, in her words, "at the ripe age of fifty three." She later explained it was "an act of grace," emerging from the "pure natural love of adventure."

Willard not only became the rider of a two-wheeler in a mere three months of testing and practice, but she wrote a bestseller to tell about it – A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle with Some Reflections By the Way, a slim volume published in 1895 (reprinted by Applewood Books in 1997). Willard was no wilting flower, …


Read More:
A Woman, Without A Fish, On A Bicycle

We Came to Play, Not Pose: Dilemma of Women in Sports

by Carole Ponchon

April 26, 2012

In our consumer society, sex is a popular marketing tool: what makes a "good ad" is widely known and sex is an important ingredient. You only have to look at advertisements for cars, perfumes, fizzy drinks, jeans and all kinds of beauty products to see this. Can we really make sport into an economic commodity like the others? And if so, how can this advertising principle be applied to the world of sport?

This is a valid question which recalls the media treatment handed out to our sportswomen and it seems particularly relevant with the approach of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, when women medal winners will be in the limelight. Like the …


Read More:
We Came to Play, Not Pose: Dilemma of Women in Sports

How Equality In Sport is Undermined by Compulsory Heterosexuality

by Leanne Norman

April 20, 2012

A major hidden ideology that runs through sports and that affects all women participants is the need to appear feminine, according to research that I've conducted in the United Kingdom. My study leads me to conclude that the fight to gain equality in sports will mean addressing the enforcement of a heterosexual norm.

Sport, of course, is based on rules, norms and values. These exist not only on the field, court or track, but in attitudes about sexuality, gender, (dis)ability, ethnicity, religion, class or age. Women coaches in the UK talked to me about their professional experiences and personal stories, including issues that affect their sense …


Read More:
How Equality In Sport is Undermined by Compulsory Heterosexuality
1 comment(s)


Print page      Bookmark site      Rss Feed RSS Feed

 

©1983-2015 On The Issues Magazine; No Reuse without permission. • Complete Table of ContentsPrivacyLinks of Feminist and Progressive Interest