Are Olympic Regulations Outdated?

The Olympics faces backlash due to discrimination.

Many people love watching the Olympics and their favorite athletes making a name for themselves. Kids my age or even younger become inspired by many athletes who pave the way in the sports industry.                                                     

Sports, in general, have become one of the most popular sources of entertainment; however, they find themselves becoming more discriminatory. Many women train day and night to participate in the Olympics and qualify only to later get disqualified. With unjustifiable reasoning, many Black women were disqualified from participating in the Olympics. 

The Olympics are one of the many examples of Black people being discriminated against and still, to this day, get unfair treatment. There are many cases where justice still hasn’t been served and questions are left unanswered, which will only set us back. Many kids start at an early age, pushing to become one of the best athletes of their generation, but that can suddenly come to an end when facing discrimination and potential harm. Kids trying to pursue their dreams will have a sense of doubt about their ability to succeed due to discrimination.

Their Stories

Gwendolyn Berry

Gwendolyn Berry is known for her powerful hammer-throwing skills and secured a spot in this summer’s Olympics, yet was cut short after being disqualified while protesting. According to the New York Times, “On the podium at the 2019 Pan Am Games, Berry raised her fist. Then she paid for it. She was reprimanded by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and is now unsponsored. She is among the top hammer throwers in the world, but hasn’t received an athletic grant since protesting.” 

This isn’t the first time Berry has protested and was punished for doing so. The Olympics purposely silences her voice and many others’, taking away their opportunities to shine and their confidence to convey their opinions about the issues going on in the world.

Soul Caps

Soul caps were created for the purpose of benefiting Black people so that they can swim and keep their hair comfortable and secured. Yet it was banned?  According to FINA, the international governing body for swimming, they said, “The cap doesn’t follow the natural flow of the head,” but how does that affect the swimmer’s ability to swim? Many Black swimmers are disappointed and in shock. Black hair is very different from white hair as it is naturally dry; it can’t withstand the chemicals put in the water, which could cause breakage and damage to one’s hair. This will make many Black people quit the sport in general for fear of their hair being ruined and the discrimination that comes with it.

Their Thoughts

Do you know anything about the recent acts of discrimination going on in the Olympics or any kind of sporting tournament? If so, what are some examples? If not, does this come as a shock to you?

 “I’m not the biggest sports enthusiast, but I heard about the Norwegian team that decided to wear shorts over bikinis because of how revealing it was and was disqualified.” She adds, “You would think that they would want their teams to feel comfortable in the uniforms they wear to perform.”

Do you think Olympic regulations are contradicting their statement of trying to make everyone stand on equal footing? 

“Absolutely, I definitely think that is the case, especially going back to the previous conversation about uniforms. I think they are constantly trying to find excuses saying everyone is on the same page when we are not because then they would make men wear the same thing if we were on equal footing. There has always been an issue regarding race discrimination and sexism. The fact that they’re still forcing women to look a certain way is very telling how they actually feel about women and women’s sports compared to men.”

Have you ever faced any kind of discrimination either in form of gender or race?

“In terms of race, no, but definitely gender as a woman, and also I am a Jewish woman. Even though I am not someone who follows Judaism. I have received anti-Semitic comments and experienced discrimination in my workplace as a woman and in pay. There are times where I feel like I have to pretend I am a different person just to fit into the standards.”

Do you think drugs that don’t enhance your physical skill should be worthy of disqualification?

“As long as it doesn’t enhance your physical abilities or rather disable your abilities, I don’t think it is our business to say. I know who you are referring to, Sha’carri Richardson was a runner who was found with marijuana in her bloodstream which is not an enhancing drug if anything wouldn’t that affect your performance more? I feel like this is an old rule that has to be adjusted, many people take drugs due to medicinal purposes. As long as the drug or substance doesn’t give you a better advantage over others I don’t see the reason why it should be an issue.Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100-meter race at the U.S. trials, but the positive test will prevent her from competing in Tokyo.”

Should protesting be allowed at the Olympics?

“Absolutely, the right of protesting applies to everything. It doesn’t matter what the setting is, you have the right to protest. It’s part of one of the universal human rights, you have the freedom of speech. I think as long as protests never get to the point where people are in harm’s way or affecting people’s performances, they have a right to do so. A lot of Americans don’t like to realize that they live in a society that does not treat others equally and pretends as if it doesn’t exist.”

Where do you draw the line between praise and punishment with testosterone?

“I think the issue that becomes unclear is which should be considered natural. In my opinion, anything that you unnaturally inject yourself into is not good and not because it isn’t fair but because it’s unhealthy. Depending on your gender and body type your hormone levels would be completely different. I think this rule can affect those who are transgender as well because those who were born female and identify as male take testosterone and it’s discrimination against them and it’s another thing the Olympics needs to consider. Where do you place people who are transgender if there are rules that prevent them from succeeding?”

Do you think the discrimination in the Olympics will affect younger generations who try
to participate?

“I think it will continue to affect generations if they continue to not do anything. The very fact that more folks are still protesting with the risk of being disqualified from the Olympics is setting the tone for future generations in a positive way as you can see with yourself; you took an interest in this because you see all these folks protesting and having a voice. The more it continues to happen it’s going to force people to make a change. The more people speak out, I think we will see results.”

What We Must Do

Not many people understand the importance of being aware of the discriminatory issues affecting the people around us, especially in sports, but speaking out about it and letting people know will help spread more awareness. Our voices shall never be silenced, as we have the right to speak on issues that are bringing injustice towards our communities. As someone who knows equality is not something that can be given easily, if we all come together and help others realize how Olympic regulations are affecting racial minorities and gender equality, we can make a difference.

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