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Posts from the ‘Athletes’ Category

The Paralympics, Past and Present

By: Adam Turner

The Paralympics originated in Britain as a venue for people wounded in World War II to compete. Today, the Paralympic Games is one of the largest sporting events in the world. It provides an avenue for people of different physical and developmental types to compete on the world stage in a way they were never allowed to before. Like the Olympics, it celebrates friendly competition, teamwork, determination, and athletic accomplishment. The history of the Paralympics, however, reveals a far more complex picture, fraught with political, social, and even medical tensions. For many years, the Paralympics has received little media attention and poor funding. What little coverage it has gotten often reinforces stereotypes about disability as a personal tragedy to be "overcome" rather than highlighting ability and athleticism.

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“My, What Healthy Breasts You Have!” (said no one, ever)

By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
This past May, I attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Women Historians, which is one of my favorite history conferences (I’m pretty sure there is no other history organization that concludes its awards banquet with a sing-a-long). Usually I hate to miss any of the sessions. But this year, I snuck off with Cheryl Lemus and another historian (I’ll call her L) to do a little “mentoring” in the shops of Berkeley. This isn’t totally facetious, as we were on a mission: to find me a properly fitted sports bra. I had started running a few months earlier, and while I had great shoes and a snazzy outfit, certain other areas of my anatomy were feeling less well-equipped. Cheryl and L are seasoned runners, and they were appalled by my bounce. So, we headed to the only place where any self-respecting women’s historian would go for such things: Title IX Sports.

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A Responsibility to Speak Out: The NFL and the Belcher Murder-Suicide

By Ashley Baggett
Gender-based violence plagues our community. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know someone who has been abused by her significant other in the past year. Rather than being a highly visible topic, a shroud of silence seemingly surrounds the issue. Over forty years after the Women’s Liberation Movement, we are still trying to break the silence and raise awareness. We should somehow be closer to ending the violence, but we are not. As a domestic violence survivor, I utilize opportunities to break the silence and speak about my experience. My hope is that I help to spread awareness and generate discussions that will dismantle the stereotypes and assumptions about intimate partner violence (IPV). I have little influence compared to some activists in the fight to end gender-based violence, and I have far less reach than large organizations. Most recently, an enormous group⎯ the National Football League (NFL)⎯ had the responsibility to take a stance against IPV and send a needed message to its huge fan base. And, they did.

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Humanizing the Olympic Body

On July 27, 2012, the Summer Olympic Games begin in London. Depending on your interests, they are the highlight of your year in sports or just another blip on your busy life. For me, I’m a Winter Olympic Games kind of girl, but I do appreciate several of the Summer Olympic events and I, like most of the world, watched in awe and excitement as Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in 2008 (I think I actually remember jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. You?) I am giddy at the prospect of him earning even more medals, and he is one of my favorite Olympic athletes (this list also includes Dana Torres). But as the games approached, what struck me the most was the imagery of the Olympic athletic body. Now, I work out on a regular basis (usually, if my hips and pelvis are cooperating), but as I enjoy the health benefits from my sweat sessions, I’ve also become more appreciative of athletes and athletic types. For them working out is not about losing weight or feeling better about oneself; it is actually a lifestyle, an integral part of their being.

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