The NCAA Indoor Championships begin today, so most of the track and field news is focusing its efforts on the teams and individuals competing this weekend. Fortunately, there are a few articles out there on this short news day, so let’s jump in.

Inequality in Sports: Men v. Women

It’s no surprise that on average, fans watch more men’s sports than they do women’s sports. Some sports do garner more viewership; women’s tennis, for instance, does rake in a substantial viewership, especially when it comes to the events involved in the Grand Slam (U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon). In fact, the article mentions that women tennis players experience a higher viewership over the men. The statistic came up at a recent Gender Inequality in Sport symposium at the University of West Indies. However, it is still unequal. Maria Sharapova, one of the most famous tennis players of our time, made a recent suggestion: reduce men’s tennis championship matches down to a best-of-three format to make it equal to women. Currently, men play a best-of-five format, while the women play at a best-of-three format during championship events. The reduction would not only equalize the playing field for both genders, but would incidentally cut down on the airtime men have while playing…especially considering that more people are watching women play.

The article explains that part of the inequality may derive from the faulty premise that women are incapable of playing on the court through a best-of-five match as it “might be too strenuous.”  The premise that women are not strong enough to compete in strenuous events similar to men also may explain why it was only semi-recently that women were able to compete in a heptathlon (7 events) outdoors instead of competing in the pentathlon within track and field. Still, men compete in the decathlon (10 events) – doing 3 more events than the females. The discrepancy continues to illustrate the inequality among men and women. The article does mention that the governing body for track and field tries to equalize the playing field – giving all competitors the same number of attempts in the field events, less heats to qualify for the finals in the 5k and 10k and a tighter false start rule in the sprinting events. Sharapova’s suggestion, though, may gain some traction, but probably not right away.

Innovative Stilted Track In Progress for Commonwealth Games

Who would have thought a soccer stadium would serve as a useful facility to hold a world-class track and field venue? The UK did – and it will be the first country to achieve this feat. The “construction of [the] platform [is] made up of 1,200 base panels and supported by 6,000 steel stilts, on top of which the track and infield turf will be laid.” Olympic heptathlon champion and current ambassador to the Glasgow Games, Jessica Ennis-Hill praised the progress of the construction thus far. Although she will not compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow’s soccer stadium this year, she does have access to see how the construction is unfolding. While the use of this apparatus will not be the first time in history it is used in a stadium (it has been used for a dressage event), it will be the first time an inlaid track sits atop of it. The stadium normally holds 52,000 spectators, but with the two meter raise by the stilts, it’ll bring the spectator count down to 44,000. Regardless, it is an impressive feat if it succeeds. After the Games conclude, the stadium will return to normal in November.

The IAAF has been busy. First, it appointed a new Ethics Commission to coincide with the adoption of a new Code of Ethics. Second, IAAF members flew out to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon to check out the site for the 2014 World Junior Championships. The start of the Championships will mark the first time the United States has ever hosted a World Junior Championship event, and it is no surprise that Hayward Field earned the prestigious honor to host the event.

Former Olympian Tommie Smith reflects on his and John Carlos’ “Black Power salute” action on the medal stand of the 200 meter dash winners (Smith, gold; Carlos, bronze) of the 1968 Olympic Games. They performed the salute in protest of how poorly black Americans were treated in the United States. It’s an interesting article to read, as it briefly touches upon the reactions of people who vehemently disagreed with their protest, and how Smith and Carlos’ lives suffered serious blows and ridicule before they were finally recognized as iconic figures.

Finally, the Boston Marathon will display memorial items from the bombings at last year’s marathon. People can view the items at the Boston Public Library from April 7 to May 11.

 

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