My post last week about American Football has given me scope for further thought along a different vein. That’s just how my mind works, I’m afraid. A week and a half ago, in fact, the day before the Super Bowl, I officiated in a women’s 7 on 7 American Football tournament involving four teams. Not knowing what to expect, I have to say that I was rather impressed with the standard of play from the ladies. While, I wasn’t surprised at the gap in the ability between the worst and first teams, I have to hold my hand up to all who played that day. All the teams really got stuck in and I enjoyed officiating it. Furthermore, I have to take my hat off to all the coaches. They took their jobs seriously and the teams were well coached. Even better than some of the men’s university teams I have seen play. Most notable, I did not hear one sexist comment aimed at the teams or players the entire day and that’s a positive in itself. I certainly hope that women’s American Football continues to grow and flourish in my adopted country of Great Britain.
Not any of the teams I officiated but it’s great to see that women are free to take up the sport.
My inspiration for writing the above paragraph came as a result of seeing the opposite once upon a time. Many years ago, at the turn of the century, I used to officiate ice hockey and officiated a number of women’s games. Back then, there were sexist comments a plenty aimed at these ladies. I remember after one game, the referee I was working with made a comment about the losing team consoling one another in the shower after. Many people, sadly some of them officials I used to work with, were quick to cast aspersions at the sexual orientation of those playing the game. “Women, playing ice hockey? They must all be lesbians.” One fact I discovered that the coach of one women’s team divulged that only one of his players was ‘that way,’ (I hate that term), while the rest of the team was straight.
At the time, women’s hockey was criticized for being slow and not very exciting. Well, I know the reason for that was because, unlike American Football, most women’s ice hockey teams were not well coached. With several clubs, the women’s team was given to a coach who only just obtained their coaching license. So, women’s teams had inexperienced coaches. On top of that, if a coach was doing a good job and that women’s team was playing well and winning, then that coach’s ‘promotion’ would be to go and coach the under 12’s team! That does not help any sort of team no matter the sport or gender of the players.
How well coached are these ladies?
My question from all this is: Have attitudes towards women’s sports changed or is American football more open towards women playing the sport than ice hockey? Maybe I should go see a women’s ice hockey game to get a true vision. But sexism in sport, while improving, still has a long way to go in the UK. Other sports also need to improve their attitudes towards women players and not just the successful ones. After all, it took Nicola Adams winning gold at the 2012 Olympics before many in Britain began to rethink their sexist attitudes about women boxers. I bet if Nicola didn’t do so well, those attitudes would not have changed. Even in 2015, after the England Women’s Soccer team came hope from the Women’s World Cup with a third place medal, some idiot man in the England Football Association made a crass comment about the women’s team going back to being wives and mothers. With comments like this, even England’s beautiful game still has a long way to go with women players. Maybe they should pay more attention to those women who play American Football.
Nicola Adams sporting her gold medal