The fight for equality in sports is founded on the view that it is crucial that the authorities involved should recognize, appreciate, and encourage the diversity of the people that make up the sporting world (Disabled World, 2013). In essence, the argument is that everyone should be valued equally, and should be given equal opportunities. Diversity, on the other hand, refers to the individual difference that is inherent in every human being. Equality in sporting opportunities is championed on the basis that in addition to the numerous benefits that are enjoyed by the individuals who are encouraged to participate, the nation and sporting communities also benefit as their health, growth and development are positively influenced (Disabled World, 2013). When everyone is afforded equal opportunities to discover and exploit their sporting potential, the community and nation are bound to benefit from their success and individual development.
Benefits of Equality in Sports
One of the major benefits of providing equal opportunities for people to participate in sports is that it increases the pool from which a sports organization can draw talent to be employed in various capacities. Sports organizations do not only need athletes, but rather are supported by people playing other roles such as administration, volunteering, and management (Disabled World, 2013). Embracing diversity and equality gives the organization the opportunity to discover talent among different people and to create employment and sources of income for them. In this way, the organization can benefit from the skills, knowledge and creativity of a wide variety of people regardless of their level of athletic abilities.
Secondly, treating people equally is also an important means through which cohesion, unity, and sportsmanship may be encouraged within the sports community (Disabled World, 2013). By teaching people to value the difference and inherent value in each other, a sports community is encouraged to see beyond the physical features that define people, and to appreciate them in deeper and more meaningful ways. Thirdly, equality in sports can also act as an important launch pad for championing equality in other facets of the socio-economic space. For example, when people grow accustomed to seeing women participating in sports that were previously dominated by men, they may experience a shift in their thinking and begin to embrace women acting in traditionally male roles in the economic environment. Therefore, the successes that are enjoyed in sports concerning equality may also spill over to the rest of the sectors that make up an economy.
Furthermore, the equality that is experienced in sports may also lead to positive impact in legislation formation and implementation, more so legislation that touches on the right to equality. Where there may have been difficulty in getting the relevant stakeholders to buy into the idea of the legislation, if the social facts on the ground change so that such legislation is rendered necessary for the times, it would be easier for the stakeholders involved to gather support to pass these legislations. It would also be wise to implement them among the people upon whom the laws are being imposed.
Challenges in Obtaining Equality in Sports
One of the factors that significantly hinder the encouragement of equality in sports are the social factors that affect certain groups disproportionately when compared to other groups (Marivoet, 2014). For example, it is note-worthy that due to biological differences, women cannot, in a strict sense, enjoy sports in the same manner that men can. For instance, married women will most likely have to sacrifice a part of their sporting careers to have children and possibly, raising them. For this reason, it is important to ensure that women are made aware of their reproductive rights and that they are provided with an environment in which they can make decisions regarding their bodies without undue external influences. For this reason, social activism is important, and it plays a leading role in ensuring that disadvantaged groups can enjoy their careers without the negative influences that may hinder such enjoyment and possible growth.
Furthermore, it has become increasingly evident that in some cases, especially where there is a severe disadvantage on the part of the parties concerned, that there is a need for policy provisions which will prevent discrimination and other negative behavioral impediments from reaching the sports community. Whereas equality within sports may lead to a decline in the rate of discrimination suffered by the disadvantaged groups, in some cases, it appears that the influence has to work inversely, i.e. changes in society may assist in improving equality in sports (Marivoet, 2014).
Lastly, the media has also been identified as one of the other factors that are hampering the growth of equality. For instance, by providing less coverage of disadvantaged groups that are participating in sports, the media cements the prejudices that are held by the public regarding the participation of women and the disabled in sports. Some commentators have argued that the media is seen to be partial towards men, with women receiving very little coverage, and even then, mostly in sensational stories which do not underline their performances, skills, or abilities (Mwambwa, 2018). The major complaint in this regard is that women are less likely to be portrayed as autonomous agents, but rather as subjects of the story to whom various unfortunate occurrences are happening (Mwambwa, 2018). Media is a powerful tool in achieving equality because it may serve to motivate for different people to participate in sports. If more young women see their counterparts participating in one form of sporting activity or another, they would be encouraged to do the same as such participation will move from the realm of the impossible and unprecedented to that of possibility and ordinariness.
In summary, equality in sports has been revealed to be an inestimable goal, which would create numerous opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups. These opportunities, it has been discussed, need not be directly involved with athletics but rather, could also be supportive and administrative. The goal in such a mission is to protect the dignity of individuals by giving them meaningful roles within the sports community, thereby allowing them to feel included and valued. As it has also been made apparent, numerous benefits also accrue to the organization which resolves to embrace diversity and equality as an organizational policy. However, it has also been shown that there are various challenges which operate as impediments to the achievement of this equality and which would have to be dealt with if disadvantaged groups are to be raised from the quagmire of discrimination and derision.
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Disabled World. (2013, June 13). Embracing equality in sports coaching. Retrieved from https://www.disabled-world.com/sports/equality-sports-coaching.php
Marivoet, S. (2014). Challenges of sport towards social inclusion and awareness-raising against any discrimination. Physical Culture and Sport Studies and Research, 63, 3-11. Retrieved from https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/pcssr.2014.63.issue-1/pcssr-2014-0017/pcssr-2014-0017.pdf
Mwambwa, L. (2018). Media can promote women in sports. Gender Links for Equality and Justice. Retrieved from http://genderlinks.org.za/programme-web-menu/media-can-promote-women-in-sport-2009-06-29/
Wembley’s Club Coordinator. Passionate about pickleball, tennis, horses, fitness, along with many other things! Loves working for the club, and seeing the growth! Go Cavs!