Did you miss this?
Canadian skating officials, in advance of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, say the sport needs to get macho. Skate Canada hopes to expand figure skating's audience by projecting an image of "masculinity" that will draw in the "hockey crowd."
Snarkiness of the "Good Morning America" hosts aside, I'm flabbergasted by the assumption that a sport has to be macho to be hard - or the parallel flawed logic, if it's not brutal then it's not really a man's sport.
THIS IS ABOUT HOMOPHOBIA.
"If viewers think the athletes are gay, they won't watch." That's the subtext of this whole thing.
This goes right back to the stereotype that "real" men do hard sports, and if there's a softer sport (I'm thinking ballet and figure skating - two physically demanding but not "aggressive" sports) then the men that do that can't be REAL men - they must be gay. AAARRRGHHHHH!!!!
GAY MEN ARE REAL MEN!!!! For that matter, Swishy, effeminate men are REAL MEN, too! I think I need to shout that again:
SWISHY, EFFEMINATE MEN ARE REAL MEN, TOO!
It also makes me think about Olympic level gymnastics. Those guys don't wear the sequins and frills some figure skaters wear, but even there, with their muscles straining as they do stuff with their bodies that 99.9% of straight guys couldn't even IMAGINE doing (the ring routine? crazy!) Not ONE single gymnastics athlete was OUT in the last summer Olympics in Beijing. Not ONE gymnast. And look how girly it looks:
That's Yang Wei, the all around gold medal winner from China in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - We don't know if he's gay or not, but he sure looks like quite the athlete!
Maybe the answer is for the male figure skaters to wear less! Show us more muscle. Perform in just speedos. It worked for Matthew Mitcham!
That should satisfy the hockey crowd and prove to them the sport is masculine enough to admit they enjoy it. And the gay audience won't complain about the changes, either...
This whole "controversy" tells us three things:
1. Homophobia in sports is still a major problem.
2. We need more athletes - in aggressive AND in non-aggressive sports - to come OUT!
3. The media, in reporting the story this way, is quite happy to let the homophobic subtext go without talking about it. They'll talk around it. And snicker at the thought of figure skaters being masculine, but they won't address their own homophobia. So we have to call them on it.
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