Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Race in Sports

The movie Salute presented a very interesting narrative in the lives of three runners. Two were African American and one was white. I was impressed by the way they came together to stand up for equal rights for all. Equality is a difficult dimension to create in sport. Everyone has a different idea of what is fair. For example doping, gender rights, and racial issues all fall under this category.
    Is it fair for one athlete to take a drug to enhance his performance while his competitors do not? Of course not. One of the toughest parts of ensuring equality in sport is determining where to draw the line. How much substance is too much? Daily vitamins and prescriptions are not illegal, but even just take these simple things can enhance one's performance. Mentioned before is the concept of gene doping. If in the future we have the ability to create children before they are even born with ideal genes there will be trouble when it comes time to compete with children who are not made in laboratories.
    Equality also touches on sexual and gender issues. It is an accepted belief that boys are better suited for sports than girls and that is why they compete in different divisions. It is clearly evident boys are stronger than girls, have more muscle, and are faster.  What about the people who change genders. I feel that if a man has a sex change to a woman he should have to compete in the field with the men, even though he calls himself a women. Women who have sex changes, however I feel should compete with the men after a sex change. They have been taking testosterone and therefore will have different body types than the normal women. Last class, we talked of gender testing. I do not believe that is something we need to do until at least the elite level of sport is hit.  I remember on my youth soccer team there was a girl with short hair. One game the opposing coach demanded to see her soccer card to prove she was a girl. My poor 8-year old teammate was humiliated and hurt.
   Race also plays an interesting role in equality. I believe African Americans are better than whites in numerous sports such as distance running and basketball. That being said I still believe we should compete on the same field. In my eyes they are fortunate to have that added ability and should no way be taken away from them. It is the same idea of a tall versus short basketball player. We do not need to create two different leagues in basketball: one for the player over 5'6 and one for the players under it. That is getting ridiculous.
   What makes sports exciting is to see fair competition. Drawing the line for fair competition though is getting harder and harder. If regulations try to divide up sports into more equal playing fields based on every different category lines just get messy and there is difficulty determining a true champion. Lets keep the fields as open as possible and if someone is born with a natural gift so be it. What I do not want to see though, is someone after the fact taking a drug or getting a sex change to better themselves in sports.

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