Read each case study. Be sure to number each response so that it will be easy to identify which question you are addressing. no cover sheet no reference sheet.
Sexual Politics: Sport Challenging the Gender Binary
Sex is defined by someone’s biological and physiological characteristics; gender refers to how a person self-identifies. Western culture traditionally operates on a gender binary classification system whereby there are only two genders: male or female. Gender is assigned at birth but has the possibility to be reassigned as people mature and can formulate their own opinion on how they want to self-identify. Although Western society operates on a two-gender system, there are over 50 gender options—for instance, agender, bigender, cisgender, gender fluid, transgender, pangender, and gender nonconforming (Eliason 2014).
Historically, sport has always operated on a gender binary system with teams and athletes competing as girls or boys or as women or men. Therefore, a person who does not identify as male or female is excluded from sport participation on the basis of gender discrimination.
In the mid-1940s, international sports administrators had female competitors bring medical “femininity certificates” to verify sex, and by the 1960s, women were forced to unrobe for inspection by officials, because sports officials couldn’t trust nations to honestly verify the sex of their athletes. By the 1980s international administrators implemented chromosomal testing for sex verification, but it was soon found that one’s sex could not be determined by the makeup of chromosomes.
The IOC has come a long way with their policies on gender verification testing and Olympic athletes. The IOC and other international and national governing bodies have started to create or modify policies to make sure that competition is fair and inclusive within the world of sport. The current IOC guidelines state the following (International Olympic Committee 2015):
1. Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction.
2. Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category under the following conditions:
2.1. The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
2.2. The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
2.3. The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
2.4. Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.
Although the IOC and other governing bodies are moving in the right direction of inclusion, there are still many questions concerning whether it is fair for an athlete whose gender does not match his sex to compete with or against people of the same gender category.
An athlete is eligible to compete as a female if the athlete has formally declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for the purpose of competition in sport, for a minimum of _______ years.
______ is a function of a person’s physical and physiological characteristics.
____________ is how someone self-identifies.
Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) was the 1976 decathlon winner. Based on Caitlyn Jenner’s reassignment surgery, would she compete as a male or a female under the current IOC guidelines?
Athlete and Team Activism
Athlete activism is nothing new in the realm of sport. In 1936, some United States athletes objecting to Hitler’s Aryan agenda decided not to make the trip to Berlin as a protest of Hitler’s treatment of the Jewish population. African American athletes at the time wanted to stand in solidarity with their Jewish brethren because of the discriminatory treatment they were receiving in Germany. Keep in mind that this was during the Jim Crow era in the United States, and African American athletes were being discriminated against through segregation.
The United States ended up participating in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, where they had an outstanding performance; Black and White athletes competed alongside each other and ended up winning gold for the United States. Track and field athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Germany. However, despite America’s excitement and enthusiasm for Owens, he was not invited to the White House with his White teammates to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1967, the boxing heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, refused to serve in the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs. Ali wanted to take a stand against social injustice and made it clear that as a conscientious objector, he was not dodging the draft. He did not want to be sent to Vietnam to fight against an oppressed population of people for a country that didn’t recognize his civil rights. He was a controversial figure in the 1960s for his stance and almost went to jail for five years. His boxing license was stripped from him in his prime and wasn’t reinstated until three years later. Today, Ali is known for his stance on social justice and racial equality even though many saw his stance in the 1960s as divisive and un-American (Long, Fletcher, and Watson 2017).
The following year, in 1968, Americans John Carlos and Tommie Smith and Australian Peter Norman, after winning the gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively, protested racial inequality by raising a fist during the playing of the U.S. national anthem at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. The two African American athletes were immediately banned from the U.S. team and were prevented from entering the Olympic village. Peter Norman, the Australian runner who had stood in solidarity with Carlos and Smith, was shunned by his own country and not allowed to compete for Australia in the future, even though he qualified to represent Australia in track and field. The 1968 protest was seen as divisive and unacceptable according to the IOC president at the time, but now the image of the trio is viewed as iconic because they made a stand for racial equality.
At a game during the 2016 football season, San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. He took a knee to protest the oppression of Black people in America and the excessive use of force by police officers against African American citizens—force that often resulted in death. Kaepernick cited his conversation with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, who suggested that Kaepernick kneel, rather than sit, in order to show respect for the flag while at the same time demonstrating for Black Lives Matter (BLM) (Surya 2019). Many players in the NFL and sports teams across the United States followed suit and started to kneel with Kaepernick in solidarity to protest police brutality against African Americans in the United States. These kneeling protests received both backlash and support from people around the world.
Fast forward to 2020, and the world hits the pause button because of the COVID-19 pandemic. George Floyd, an African American man arrested by Minneapolis police, dies. Millions of people watched the eight minutes and 46 seconds long video that showed Floyd plead with one of the officers to take his knee off of his neck. In the last few moments of Floyd’s life, he gasps for air and calls for his mother before taking his last breath.
The video sparked demonstrations that started around the United States and then went global. People around the world showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement through social media postings, protesting, running for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds (the time that the officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck), and demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and Breonna Taylor.
Soon athletes, teams, and leagues began to speak out about issues involving race relations and systemic oppression in society. Teams and leagues debuted Black Lives Matter patches, knelt as one team, and created signage in facilities in support of Black Lives Matter. Here are some ways that U.S. teams and leagues showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
NASCAR banned the confederate flag from NASCAR races and had Bubba Wallace drive a painted Black Lives Matter car at the Martinsville Speedway.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a speech stating that “Black Lives Matter.” He said that he was wrong for not initially supporting Colin Kaepernick kneeling and encouraged “all to speak out and to peacefully protest.”
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) jump-started their 2020 play with players wearing BLM T-shirts and kneeling.
The NBA and the WNBA painted a Black Lives Matter mural on the courts in the “bubble” that they played in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WNBA players opened the 2020 season with Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys.
Several MLS team club captains wore special armbands supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, many MLS players performed a silent demonstration at games that took place at Disney’s Wide World of Sports during the pandemic.
During the opening day of the 2020 MLB season, many teams knelt in unison prior to the playing of the national anthem to show solidarity with BLM. Some MLB teams started the season with BLM painted on the pitcher’s mound.
NHL 20, a game by EA Sports, created a pop-up banner supporting BLM to appear before fans start playing the game.
On August 26, 2020, the NBA, WNBA, MLS, and MLB stopped league play to bring attention to the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the playing of the national anthem in 2016 initiated discussions on race, systemic oppression, and patriotism. This shows that the power of sport is endless and demonstrates how much of a platform athletes, coaches, teams, and leagues have for audiences around the world.
How is the story of the 1968 Olympic Games similar to and different from Colin Kaepernick’s story?
Provide examples of the various ways athletes can make their voices heard by the masses if they want to stand up for a cause they feel passionate about. Give two to three examples.
With whom did Colin Kaepernick consult before taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem?
In 2020, which league had Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys?
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