Posts tagged with "International Olympic Committee"

Illustration By Alex Bogdan for use by 360 Magazine

BLACK FEMALE ATHLETES FACE OLYMPIC DISCRIMINATION

By: Clara Guthrie

Leading up to the postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo—with opening ceremonies scheduled for Friday, July 23—the International Swimming Federation (or FINA, a shortening of the “Fédération Internationale de Natation”) has banned the use of swim caps specifically designed to fit the volume and texture of Black hair. Their reasoning for such a targeted and controversial ban seemingly lies in the cap’s novelty, leaving officials wondering how the product may affect different Olympic swimming events. (Many people have been quick to point out, however, that the larger size of these caps could actually cause more drag in the water rather than any sort of advantage.) In a statement, FINA said that, to their knowledge, “the athletes competing at international events never used, neither required, […] caps of such size and configuration.” Additionally, they took issue with the fact that the caps do not lay flat and tight across the head as other swim caps used by white athletes do.

The caps of interest were created by a Black-owned British company called Soul Cap. According to their website, their products are intended for “those with dreadlocks, weaves, hair extensions, braids, thick and curly hair” and are “designed with extra room in mind.” Their business—which was founded in 2017 and includes a variety of swimming-related haircare products for those “blessed with voluminous hair”—grew out of an understanding that the beauty industry was overlooking the needs of these individuals.

Preceding this controversy, Soul Cap had partnered with marathon swimmer Alice Dearing, the first Black female swimmer to represent Great Britain in the Olympic games. This partnership was intended to promote diversity in the world of swimming and help break down barriers for other minority swimmers who may be blocked from competing at the highest level. “Swimming as a sport hasn’t always been as accessible to people from minority communities,” Dearing said. “Increasing diversity in the water is a huge passion of mine, so with Soul Cap, […] we hope we can start to dispel those barriers.”

This decision to ban Soul Caps from the Olympics has caused public outrage among many swimmers, specifically swimmers of color. According to the BBC, one young swimmer said she was “heartbroken but not surprised” by FINA’s discriminatory action. Another swimmer, 17-year-old Kejai Terrelonge, said that swim caps made for thinner or untextured hair have posed perpetual problems throughout her athletic career. “Using the smaller swimming caps that everyone else would use—it would fit on my head, but because I put oil in my hair, when I was swimming it would just keep sliding off, and my hair would get wet,” she said. Since Black hair is naturally drier than other hair, exposure to chlorine and other chemicals in pool water can cause severe damage to hair. In 2019, Dearing herself even acknowledged that she “can fully understand why someone would quit [swimming] over their hair.”

Non-athletes have also joined in on this critique of FINA, taking to Twitter to voice their frustration. One user called the decision “cultural insensitivity on an international scale.” Another said, “this misguided notion of uniformity is the antithesis to inclusion.” “It’s 2021 and still there is ignorance about Black hair and naturalness,” said another Twitter user. “People who make decisions about Black hair should do the research first. Our hair may not be natural to you but it is to us!” This final sentence seems to be a direct response to another quote from FINA in which they said that Soul Caps do not “fit the natural form of the head.”

Unfortunately, this move to ban swim caps for Black hair has not been the only inequitable decision surrounding Black female athletes made by Olympic athletic committees. Last week, 21-year-old sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC and thus failing her drug test. While marijuana is explicitly against the rules for competing athletes according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards, many people were outraged at Richardson’s suspension seeing as the drug is legal in Oregon (where Richardson ingested it) and the drug’s known effects are in no way performance-enhancing. Actor and outspoken supporter of marijuana Seth Rogen weighed in on Twitter, saying, “The notion that weed is a problematic ‘drug’ is rooted in racism. It’s insane that Team USA would disqualify one of the country’s most talented athletes over thinking that’s rooted in hatred.” 

In another Olympic-centered controversy, 18-year-old Namibian sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi were withdrawn from the 400-meter race due to their “natural high testerone level[s],” according to the World Athletics governing body’s policy on Athletes with Differences of Sex Development. This policy states that women’s blood testosterone levels must be below 5 nanomoles per liter to compete in the 400-meter race, among other events. These new regulations were introduced in 2018, and the only proposed solution for these athletes is to lower their testosterone levels with medicine in order to compete. It is important to note that neither Mboma, Masilinigi, their families nor their coaches were aware of their hormonal condition prior to being tested.

As these debates that target the rights and Olympic potential of Black female athletes continue to unfold, FINA has announced it will review the original decision to ban Soul Caps from the summer games. In an official statement, FINA said that it is “committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage.” FINA also said that it plans to “speak with the manufacturer of the ‘Soul Cap’ about utilizing their products through the FINA Development Centers.” No further statements or decisions have been made at this time.

According to the official Olympics website, part of the IOC’s mission is “to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement” and “to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures.” And yet, the past few weeks have revealed unflattering truths about the international world of athletics and the discrimination that athletes of color—specifically female athletes of color—repeatedly face in order to pursue their Olympic dreams. The IOC represents the highest standards of athletics and competition, and thus they must rise to the same standards when it comes to protecting, empowering and uplifting the athletes who participate.

Transgender Sports illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam facilitators publish open letter condemning anti-transgender legislation

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam, a group of NCAA- trained facilitators at colleges across the country published an open letter condemning the actions taken by 28 states across the country to introduce, pass, and sign anti-transgender legislation. 2021 has been a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with 93 anti-transgender bills introduced across the country, the vast majority of which attempt to ban transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports or ban transgender youth from accessing medically necessary, gender-affirming health care.

Laws have been signed banning transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, with Executive Orders being signed to the same effect in South Dakota.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam open letter reads as follows:

An Open Letter in Support of Transgender Student-Athletes

We, the undersigned, are facilitators of the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA)Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program, which is a national training program that fosters LGBTQ+ inclusion in NCAA Division III athletics, and members of the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ Working Group. Given the recent rise in legislation that is focused on excluding transgender people from athletics across the country, we have decided to use our collective voice to condemn such actions. We call on elected officials across the country to immediately halt legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport.

In our role with the NCAA’s LGBTQ OneTeam Program, we train coaches, athletics administrators, and student-athletes across the whole of Division III athletics. This program is aimed at helping to understand the importance of LGBTQ inclusion in college athletics, while also identifying strategies and best practices for institutions and conferences to better ensure that all student-athletes–regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, and/or gender expression–can participate in an inclusive and safe athletic climate. We cannot, in good conscience, fail to speak out at this critical moment.

In the past several weeks, actions–which are aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport–have been taken by elected officials inseveral states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. At the time of this writing, the Governors ofArkansas,Idaho,Mississippi, andTennessee have already signed such dangerous legislation into law. 

Legislation aimed at categorically banning transgender people–and particularly transgender girls and women–from sport is inherently discriminatory. Such legislation is often “informed” by hate and misinformation rather than science, and it is most certainly “informed” byfear instead of fact. Conversely, trans-inclusive policies, such as those established by theNCAA and theInternational Olympic Committee (IOC), are better informed by the current scientific evidence, and this evidence shows that transgender women do not have an inherent competitive advantage over cisgender women.

Furthermore, discriminatory legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender people from sport has a number ofserious consequences for transgender students. Such legislation dehumanizes transgender students, refuses them the opportunity to participate equally and equitably in athletics, undermines their support in educational settings, damages their mental health, and ultimately harms these students, while also contributing to an exclusionary athletic environment and a more hostile school climate for all students.

We immediately call for 1) an end to such legislation in all states and 2) a repeal of such laws in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Tennessee. And finally, we also encourage our legislators to better consider theNCAA best practices and importance of an inclusive athletic environment for all student-athletes.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Timothy R. Bussey, Ph.D.

Pronouns: they/them

Associate Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Kenyon College

Kayla Hayes, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Denison University

Kyrstin Krist, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Faculty Athletic Representative | Methodist University

Melynda Link, M.B.A.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletic Facilities & Game Day Operations, Dept. of Athletics | Haverford College

Kathleen M. Murray

Pronouns: she/her

President, Office of the President | Whitman College

Jess Duff

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Services & Internal Operations Dept. of Athletics | Bates College

Jessica Weiss

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Randolph-Macon College

Jennifer Dubow

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Maura Johnston

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Fairleigh Dickinson University

Scott McGuiness

Pronouns: no pronouns

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | Washington & Jefferson College

Danielle Lynch, M.S.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Track and Field/Cross Country Coach Athletic Department | Penn State University – Harrisburg

Melissa Walton

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Associate Athletic Director Athletic Department | Albion College

Amy Reed

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Rochester Institute of Technology

Donna M. Ledwin

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC)

Donnesha Blake, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Dept. of Student Affairs | Alma College

Tim Wilson

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Track and Field Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Stevens Institute of Technology

Anne Kietzman

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Washington College

Ashley Crossway, D.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Education Dept. of Kinesiology | SUNY Cortland

Melissa Brooks

Pronouns: she/her

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Athletic Department | Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham 

Tiffany Thompson

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Gender and Sexuality Initiatives, Intercultural Center | Swarthmore College

Kirsten Clark

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Director, Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | Clark University

Kate Levin

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Sports Information Director Dept. of Athletics | Ramapo College

Cori Collinsworth

Pronouns: she/her

Head Softball Coach, Athletic Department | Hanover College

Bethany Dannelly

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Athletics, Dept. of Physical Education and Athletics | Washington and Lee University

Jennifer Childress-White, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and University Title IX Coordinator Dept. of Athletics | Pacific Lutheran University

Elise Fitzsimmons, M.S., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Trainer, Dept. of Athletics| SUNY Oswego 

Amanda Walker

Pronouns: she/her

Athletic Program Coordinator Athletics Department | Lake Forest College

Danielle O’Leary

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Athletics Department | Mount Aloysius College

Crystal Lanning

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | University of Wisconsin – River Falls

Neil Virtue

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Director of Athletics and Head Swimming Coach | Dept. of Athletics, P.E., and Recreation Mills College

Jose’ Rodriguez, M.Ed.

Pronouns: he/him

Chief Diversity Officer, Office of University Diversity Initiatives | Cabrini University

Karen Moberg, M.Ed., L.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Trainer, Athletic Department | Macalester College

Yishka Chin

Pronouns: she/her

Coordinator for Tutoring Services and Trailblazer Program Director, Dept. of Student Success | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Renee Bostic

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics & Wellness Dept. of Athletics & Wellness | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Megan Cullinane

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | University of Massachusetts – Boston

Maureen Harty

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW)

Stephanie Dutton

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)

Sharia Marcus-Carter

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Director of Compliance, Athletics Department | Brooklyn College