January 30, 2015 by Sean Childers in Livewire with 0 comments
Former USAU staffer Baker Pratt was one of many big names in the comment section on Tiina Booth’s latest column and carved out a pretty interesting position on the proposed gender equity ombudsgroup:
While coverage of the sport is exceedingly important, I think that the focus of the gender equity policy upon coverage/promotion is at times a shortcoming of the policy (and of the discussion around it). There are many different ways that resources can be divided, and focusing solely upon media is short-sighted.
In addition to arguing that a focus on media first is a bit unwise, Pratt does an excellent job of highlighting the actual efforts USAU has made in the overall gender equity arena, even while conceding that it may not be enough. (Disclosure: I’ve known Pratt since I started playing Ultimate, though we’ve had our fair share of disagreements.)
Obviously it’s a bit audacious for an editor at a prominent blog, which focuses on the Men’s divisions more than the Women’s, to suggest that proponents of gender equity should care less about media focus. But I do think Pratt is 100% onto something here. Yes, female role models are incredibly important to (some) girls and media exposure helps create those figures. But that’s not the only way that starting to play competitive ultimate is harder as a female than as a male!
There are fewer teams, fewer leagues, sometimes fewer willing coaches, and further travel requirements to play equal-level teams, as compared to Men’s. Broad pushes to increase female participation, such as the GUM efforts, and smart thinking about how to reduce costs for younger female players may be less visible than counting video and article disparity, but my intuition is that it could lead to more meaningful outcomes and a more equal future.