Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Gender gap big problem in sports

Whether or not Los Angeles Clippers player Chris Paul was insulting the gender of female referee Lauren Holtkamp on Feb. 5 is debatable. What is not debatable is the blatant sexism occurring in American sports.
Paul stated after the game that the technical Holtkamp gave him was “ridiculous” and that being a referee “may not be for her.”
The NBA only has two female referees, Holtkamp, who is a rookie, and Violet Palmer, who has worked NBA games since 1997, according to the NBA’s website.
The NFL has never had a woman referee a game during the regular season, other then Shannon Eastin who served as a replacement referee during the 2012 lockout. Referees Sarah Thomas and Maia Chaka have refereed preseason games but have not refereed in a regular season game, according to ESPN.
Along with a lack of female referees, according to the Women’s Media Center 2014 survey, 90 percent of sports journalists are white males. Compared to the organization’s 2010 data, the number of female sports columnists slipped from 9.9 percent to 9.7 percent.
Women are underrepresented in sports discussions, yet play sports all of the time. However, there are far more men’s professional teams then there are women’s professional teams. While there is a WNBA, there is no professional softball organization or anything comparable to a female football organization.
Even WBNA player Brittney Griner, no. 1 in the draft, had to go play basketball in China during the 2104 season, since they could offer her a $600,000 salary compared to the $49,440 from the Phoenix Mercury, according to the Post Game. Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant’s salary for the 2014-2015 season was $23.5 million, according to ESPN.
Men are taught to be aggressive and play sports. Having women underrepresented in playing, reviewing or even commenting on sports we are embracing the binary thinking that makes women feel as though they have to be passive, and not able to play the sports that our society has clearly constructed to be for men.
Women can play just as good of a game as men, yet I highly doubt the attendance is the same at a men’s and women’s basketball game.
At Augustana, female referees have never once refereed a men’s basketball game in the past 34 years, yet men referee women’s games all the time, according to Dave Wrath, sports information director.
This encourages the stereotype that women could not handle the crowd or coaches, which female referees should find insulting and demeaning.
Having received 79 technical fouls in his career as well as a $15,000 fine in 2011 for verbally abusing a referee, according to CNN, it seems reasonable that Paul was not being sexist with his comment and should be treated as if the abuse was directed at a male referee.
Instead of critiquing Paul, we should be critiquing the cultural practices surrounding sports as a whole.

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Gender gap big problem in sports