Sex Equality in Sports written by Jane English focuses on the three major views developed by philosophers regarding equality, and why they do not hold up when used in context with “permanent differences”. The last of the three points discussed by English is the creating of separate sports for both males and females to facilitate the physical handicaps that woman face. This is the point that I maintain as incorrect and that I will elaborate on by providing further examples supporting the separation of males and females in sports. The example given by English in rebuttal to “sex-blind” sports, is one physiological in nature.
There are currently two ways to treat physical disadvantages for groups in sports. The first being the formation of distinct classes based on obvious, clear-cut differences, such as weight, age, etc. She also proves that there are some sports where the marginal difference between male and female competitors is too small or unclear to realistically have an equal competitive group separation. The sports used to exemplify this were diving and skiing, sports where the separation of sex may not be as clear cut as one where a male may be dominant, such as boxing or weightlifting.
There are also examples given my English showing that a physiological disadvantage in one sport may be an advantage in another sport (English 275). The divide between female and male becomes clearer as we see that disadvantages such as lower weight and shorter height, physiological factors that are much greater in males, become desirable characteristics for another sport. Balance beam in gymnastics is a competition where shorter competitors have an advantage due to their low center of gravity, as exemplified by English, and low weight may be disadvantageous in Sumo wrestling but desirable for marathon runners or horse jockeys.
English proposes the formation of new sports based on physical characteristics rather than lower level leagues or “classes”, as proposed by the other two commonly used competition barriers. English goes on to further state that “this method is different from forming handicapped groups…It contributes to a woman’s self-respect…But this pride is tempered by the knowledge that they are ‘only’ the best women. ” This can be seen as an example of a Sweeping Generalization being that English used the example of women golfers. Some sports are made specifically for woman but have been adapted for men, such as softball.
Being the best woman softball player in the world may be an honor to one, where English sees it as a sign of implied inferiority. There is not an adequate amount of information given by English proving that woman believe there is signified discrimination upon using those words, and it also is too small of a sample group to speak for the large number of woman athletes in a variety of sports. Being that the whole female sports community is not accounted for in this claim of inferiority, it can be seen as a Fallacy of the Whole, being that the whole group is represented by one example.
In conclusion, there is an obvious difference in athletic potential in men and woman, which is why there is a separation of the two in competition. There have already been accommodations made to cater to the female communities worries regarding physical handicaps. This can be seen with the formation of sports such as softball, or the changing of rules in games such as lacrosse, where woman do not wear shoulder pads and hit as often as men do in the same sport.
Creating new sports would be an unnecessary action that would ultimately create a large problem with the excessive amount of factors that would go into determining the division of these physically determined groups. This only slightly broaches the whole argument, and I suggest further reading the article in depth as well as weighing the fact that many male sports, such as football, are relatively new when compared to sports such as soccer. This journal piece by English only begins to fully address the many problems that are faced with woman in the sports world today and continue to as sports evolve every day.