Level the Playing Field: Women in Sports Essay

The current diversity towards both male and female activities has far ranged in various dimensions and practices. In sports, various differences should also be considered among women who engage in such endeavors. As coaches, it is their responsibility to determine that female athletes have different perceptions and views in handling competition, motivation, and game play.

Due to this, various concerns have been brought up by women athletes with one aim in mind; understanding. In the end, coaches need to efficiently adjust to such scenario so as to provide equal benefits towards their female players and at the same time adjusting to their needs so as to foster effective motivation and higher levels of competitiveness.

Development towards a level playing field

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            The initial development of issues surrounding women in sports in the United States started in 1972 during the reelection of President Nixon. It is with these efforts that the Title IX of the Educational Amendments was ratified. “This statute prohibits sex discrimination in any discrimination in any educational program or activity within an institution receiving federal financial aid” (Blaisdell, 2003, p.1). After that development, there have been an increased number of women participants in sports.

            Moreover, such amendment has increased the adoption and inclusion of various educational institutions of new sporting activities to cater the growing number of female participants in sports. “Because of the increase in females attending college, schools get creative in how to meet proportionality and add sports” (Blaisdell, 2003, p.1)

            Though there were many critics of Title IX and even brought it towards Supreme Court, there was little that these groups can do to the increase participation of female athletes. This development captivated the move of women athletes to improve and develop. It was evident during the women’s team first participation in the summer of 1973. “The outstanding performances last summer by the U.S. Olympic women’s teams in soccer, swimming, basketball, softball and gymnastics are directly attributable to the expansion of women’s sports mandated by Title IX” (Wulf, 1997, p.2)

Women Players: Issue of Sensitivity

            One issue that coaches should consider is that women vary in men in terms of how they react towards individual and group comments made. In this light, coaches must be able to understand that women take statements differently than their male counterparts. Due to this, each one must understand that by properly engaging women into sports, they can adequately improve player performance and impart obtain various skills in the optimum level.

            This in turn can attract more women towards engaging in sport activities and foster skill acquisition towards which they can use in the future. “Involvement in sports for women and men teaches critical lessons on discipline, goal setting, communication and work ethics that are widely transferable and often translate into successful careers down the line” (International Labour Organization, 2006).

            Looking at my experience as a coach, I can clearly see the differences between how male and female players take comments during practices and games. For male players, I can say anything that I want from them. It is in here that they gain the motivation to do better or to persevere in their weaknesses so as to improve their game play and performance. On the other hand, in handling women, a coach must be more careful in giving comments. The message must strike its significance while at the same time taking into consideration the personal feelings of the group or individuals. By doing this, team efficiency can be created while careful consideration to emotions are considered.

            In response to this factor, I will try to incorporate better communication patterns that can improve the process between coaches and players. Also, a teambuilding activity can be an important catalyst towards harmonization and cooperation not only for players but also for the coaching staff. Creating these programs can increase team bonding and recognize each ones weaknesses and strengths. Lastly, coaches must also think of alternative programs that can help improve relationships within the team. “Experimental programs can be useful to learn the experiences of girls in sports programs and identify ways to involve girls in sports” (Brady, 2007, p.3).

The question of preference

            Another issue surrounding the issue of leveling the playing field involves the preference of women athletes toward female coaches. They feel that female coaches seem to have greater insight into the feelings of players than male coaches. In addition, some women have a stronger need to compete than others which can only be understood by a female coach. This preference in turn has resulted to an increase of female coaches in the recent decades as more females participated in games.

            Looking at it, female coaches do contribute to increased outcomes for an all women group. “Female coaches can make a big difference in increasing female participation, as well as helping some women to feel more comfortable in a sporting environment” (Women Sports Foundation, 2007, p.1). Moreover, the style used by female coaches is in line with the needs and demands of female players. Contrary to the styles of showcased by male coaches (aggressive, superiority and authoritarian), female coaches exemplify facets such as cooperation, empathy and communication (Women Sports Foundation, 2007, p.1).

            Reacting to this statement, such differences can indeed shed a light towards how players perceive and want coaches to address the individual and group needs. The varying leadership styles can promote various outcomes for players as it seeks to develop its unique sense of loyalty, camaraderie and teamwork. Though such may be true, I do not fully advocate that majority of male coaches exhibit masculine traits in sports. I believe that there are other male coaches who exemplify and use feminine characteristics to boost and motivate players to perform better.

            In order to address this issue, male coaches can undergo training and development programs aimed towards creating better motivational conditions for female players. By doing this, a male coach can actively address the needs of the team and can enhance the way they compete against their other counterparts. Lastly, the coach also must constantly create continuity in keeping the team together. This means that he/she must work hand-in-hand with school authorities towards creating a better opportunities for involvement. “Schools must make good faith efforts to increase athletic participation opportunities for students who previously have been denied opportunities, usually females, either through the addition of teams or the addition of athletes to existing teams” (Brady, 2007, p.5).

Understanding a Woman’s Chemistry

            Understanding that various factors affect female players’ performance is also another facet that coaches must take into consideration. With the various changes happening inside a woman’s body, it can also affect the way they perform during competition and events. For female players, they want their coaches to understand the difficulty of having to adjust to these bodily changes and such can affect their performances in games. For example, due to menstruation, the weight of a female athlete goes up which in turn affects the way their ability to play their best.

            In response to this, as coaches we do attest that sometimes we exert too much pressure on our players to do their best and perform. This in turn creates standards of behavior that is adequate or needed in order to win or succeed. On our part, we only want to ensure that the female players can maximize their full potential as they aspire for the overall goal of winning. Though at times, we tend to exert our authority too much among players, it is due to our passion to impart to players the value of the game and its relative importance to the school. In the end, we coaches want only to see the development and improvement of our players’ potential.

            Responding to these, I believe that we must understand woman’s biological makeup so as to be familiar in what they feel. By grasping what women feel during these phases, coaches can efficiently adjust towards the needs of his/her players. In addition to this, a coach must be patient towards the changing attitudes of his female players. He must be able to correlate the situation and try to pursue a rather different approach of handling a particular incident. In the end, by being sensitive towards the needs of players, I may be able to get certain levels of improvement in the problems I wish to get resolved.

Conclusion

            To conclude, the experiences of women in sports showcase the challenges that the leveling the playing field agenda has been experiencing. As coaches, each one must be aware of the players needs and create better approaches towards increasing efficiency and effectiveness. By doing this, coaches can facilitate increased cooperation and collaboration while at the same time taking into consideration their individual differences. It is through this that the level of game play is achieved at the optimum.

References

Blaisdell, D. (2003) Title IX: Leveling the Playing Field in the Signpost. [online] Retrieved

September 4, 2008 from, http://media.www.wsusignpost.com/media/storage/paper985/news/2003/04/09/Sports/Title.Ix.Leveling.The.Playing.Field-2107244.shtml

Brady, M. (2007) Leveling the playing field: Building girls’ sports programs in the developing

world. Retrieved September 1, 2008 from, http://209.85.175.104/search?q=cache:95IlGzBrxuwJ:www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/TABriefs/PGY_Brief01_Sports.pdf+Level+the+Playing+Field+-+Women+in+sports&hl=tl&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=ph

International Labor Organization. (2006) Planet Work Women in Sports: How level is the playing

field? Retrieved September 1, 2008 from, http://www.ilo.org/wow/PlanetWork/lang–en/WCMS_081377/index.htm

National Women’s Law Center. (2000) Check it Out: Is the Playing field level for women and

girls at your school? Retrieved September 1, 2008 from, http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/Checkitout.pdf

Women Sports Foundation. (April 2007). The issues surrounding women and coaching. Retrieved September 4, 2008 from, http://www.coach.ca/admin/pdf_admin/pdf/WSF_Factsheet.pdf

Wulf, S. (1997) A Level Playing Field for Women in Time Magazine. Retrieved September 1,

2008 from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986284,00.html

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