When should you stop skateboarding?

comment Why sexism in action sports must finally stop


Skateboard championships: prize money for male skaters is 1,500 euros, for women there is a 150-euro voucher. That can't be the case, thinks our author. And the unequal prices are the smallest problem.

From: Claudia Gerauer

Status: 07/24/2017 | archive

Who do you think of when you hear the biggest action sports heroes? To skateboard god Tony Hawk? Or the exceptional surfer Mick Fanning? Or rather snowboard legend Travis Rice? Maybe someone completely different - but a female action athlete hardly ever comes to mind. And there are reasons. Not because women cannot, or cannot, perform these sports, but because they have disadvantages in many areas of action sports and are therefore not noticed. And that is a problem for our image of women!

Some people are probably already raising their eyebrows in annoyance and thinking: "Always this whining ... women are just worse, the tricks are boring and the level is not that high." I hear that all the time. And of course, women and men are anatomically built differently. If you take a man weighing 60 kilograms and a woman weighing 60 kilograms who do exactly the same training, have the same fitness constitution, and have the same rhythm of life, there is a difference in performance of around ten percent. It exists and nobody wants to discuss it away - it's just not an invitation to treat people differently. Some better, some worse. But that's exactly what happens in action sports.

A tenth of the prize money - is it still possible?

If, for example, Germany's best skateboarders compete for the championship title, then the best man receives 1500 euros in prize money. For the best woman there is just a lousy 150 euro voucher from a skate shop. Although skateboarders drive the same setup, train the same amount and have the same costs to practice their sport at a professional level. Then you can't just give the athletes a tenth of the prize money ?! But whether it's downhill mountain biking or freeriding in winter: It seems to be an unwritten law that female athletes get less money.

Action athletes also appear less often in TV and media reports - and when they do, then often only as a nice accessory. The consequence: less attention equals fewer sponsors. This makes it much more difficult for women to practice their sport at a professional level, to train full-time, to develop and to push their limits - and thus women's sport as a whole - further.

Girls, gals or "the wife of"

When athletes appear at contests or in the media, they are often reduced to their appearance and the hairstyle, the clothes, in short: the surrounding area is looked at. The commentators then speak of "the beautiful American" or "the wife of xy". The focus is rarely on women as an athlete and their athletic performance. It starts with how women are called: For example as "girls" or "girls" who go to the "girls shred" in the snow park or take part in the "girls' mountain bike camp".

The fact that these athletically active people are mostly in their late twenties, have a job, their own apartment and a car and are mature, responsible women is thus trivialized. As soon as it comes to action sports, women become children or teenagers again. This also makes it clear how many dusty stereotypes are still firmly anchored: For example, that it is not appropriate for adult women to get dirty, to have abrasions or to do high-risk sports - and they should rather look pretty, smile and watch .

Injustice in action sports affects us all!

Many, who slowly come to the realization that it is "somehow" unfair, then try to appease. It often says: "Well, but that doesn't affect so many ... the few women who do these sports." But that's wrong! Because sport and the role of women in this context also shape our image of women in society. Action sports in particular deliver spectacular images that inspire and guarantee wow moments. But if only male athletes are admired and women are only the pretty accessories corresponding to the slim, flawless ideal of beauty, this is not only unfair to the athletes and their fans, but bad for all women and girls in our society.

Without female role models in skateboarding, BMX or downhill mountain biking, girls and women rarely consider such sports for themselves. Instead, sexy "can girls" and hostesses cement images of women that should have long since been out of date. This slows down the development in women's sport and prevents an equal, modern image of women.

A picture in which it goes without saying that women can do the same sports as professionally and with the same support as men - and do not have to be particularly blonde, slim or big-breasted to be noticed. Sure, it might not be better about equality elsewhere in our society - but isn't action sports so young, modern, up front and different? As long as nothing happens, no one has the right to say that sexism in action sports is pulled by the hair.

Broadcast: Filter, July 25, 2017 - from 3 p.m.

Podcast: Sexism in Action Sports - How Women Can Make Better Use of Their Opportunities

Beautiful surfers get the most sponsors, revealing skaters get the biggest fame: With action athletes, athletic performance often only takes a back seat. This has an impact on our image of women - and has to change. How, you can hear that in ours PULS special.