Dimmed light of Indian sportswomen4 min read
August 28, 2015 witnessed the Indian Women’s Hockey Team paving its way to the 2016 Rio Olympics. For the past 36 years, the women’s hockey team has made it to the Olympics only twice, and this stops and makes me wonder whether this could be due to the role of gender bias in the field of sports. This article does not aim to take a feminist approach, but to discuss the opportunities presented to women, in general and in sports.
While the men’s team remains unbeaten in the Olympics, the women hockey team has returned to ground. As much as the victory of women’s hockey team has been applauded, there has definitely been a significant lack of appreciation towards women in sports due to the ideology of sports fans across the country. Many figures in the Indian athletic community have not even been acknowledged for their splendid work and laurels. The Indian Hockey team last featured in 1980 acquiring the fourth position. Winning and paving its way to the Rio Olympics is a big deal and a proud moment for both the team and the nation. It should be treated as such.
Sania Mirza, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Dipika Pallika and Jwala Gutta have made India proud with unprecedented success in their respective sports, but the count of women in the spotlight still stays limited to these many figures in India. Despite these women achieving global success, there is a genuine lack of women enthusiasm in the field of sports. Most sports suffer from a scarcity of women participants, and the many which do take active participation, go unnoticed.
India’s renowned tennis player, Sania Mirza,won her latest Grand Slam at the US open and is now ranked world no. 1 in doubles. Yet the BBC “forgot” to recognise Mirza’s contribution for the second time, while congratulating her contemporary and partner, Martina Hingis for the very same victory when they tweeted
Hingis wins US Open doubles title http://t.co/rHCHBz18kZ
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) September 13, 2015
This was not only seen as a racist approach towards Mirza, but an unexpected mistake and humiliation.
Sarita Devi, an athlete who refused a bronze medal during the Asian games for lightweight boxing, faced humiliation despite having the upper hand against the South Korean opponent. She refused to take the third position and gave away her bronze medal out of honour and self-respect. Regardless of her loss or win, the Indian Olympic Association never protested against the unjust decision of the judges and neither did they support Sarita to fight for her real position.
Every Indian’s invariably loved sport- Cricket, has seen its growth in not only the men’s team but even in the female team. The progressive pace at which the Indian women’s cricket team has seen itself merging with the International Council is appreciated by all. But the apparent lack of organization at the junior level, has led to a dip in the team’s performance, over the last few years.
The ‘Other’ cricket team captain, Mithali Raj recently became the second woman to cross the 5000 run mark has been constantly appreciated for her on field work. Many blame the BCCI for the decline of international matches, as the last test the Indian Women’s team played was in 2004, at Wormsley. Which brings me to the question of what exactly has BCCI been doing with the Women’s Team all this while? In contrary to that, BCCI has promised a U-23 inter-zonal league for women. Will these promises be fulfilled?
I perceive the notion that gender biasness is inevitable until a transformation takes rise. The coverage of women in sports is also somehow bringing the downfall of their success. What can be done to overcome this biased behaviour? Indian media needs to be sensitized to gender issues, especially in terms of sports. Our society needs to go through a massive cultural reform to get the better out of women strength in the realms of sports. To achieve this, the most significant ingredient is motivation and the media can play a big role to change the mind-set of the people. This would also provide the sect with ample number of opportunities to exhibit there talent. As for the Women’s Indian Hockey team, only the 2016 Rio Olympics will define their fate.
Edited by Gargi Kerkar