Over the past 5 weeks, FII collaborated with The Bastion to carry out a visual series called #TheSportsEdit. The series addresses several points of exclusion that exist in sport, making it a less accessible and safe space for many. Our idea of sport is almost always attached to masculinity, and our attitudes and accommodation towards anyone who does not match our schema of the masculine, athletic man can often become hostile. It is imperative that we accommodate different gender identities, different class and caste identities, different sexualities and body types in our imagination of what being fit, active, and “sporty” looks like. Let’s look at the different issues address through this series:
How can Sport help bridge Social Gaps and Build Unity?
We cannot truly develop if our idea of development is exclusionary. We must acknowledge the invaluable role sport can play in fostering positive development of young people – if we allow it to. Hence it is crucial to make sport accessible and enjoyable for all. Here are 3 organisations that try to transcend lines of race, caste, class, and gender in order to level the playing field – literally – so more people can reap the benefits of sport!
The School Playground: Sites for harassment and bullying?
We know now that sport is beneficial for young people. Now, how do we ensure that the benefits can be provided to all young people? What can serve as a wonderful, open space for many to enjoy sports in can easily turn into a hostile one if we do not address the bullying and harassment that takes place on the school playground. Being on the field should not be a source of anxiety for anyone! Let’s find out who is more vulnerable to this hostility and what we can do about it.
Gender Binary in Sports: Trans Athletes and Hyperandrogenous Athletes
Can sports be truly inclusive and safe for all if it still works within the distinction of the gender binary?
As our understanding of gender evolves, it is crucial that major sports committees follow, and do away with the questionable methods on the basis of which we currently decide who should compete where.
How does gendered access to playgrounds restrict participation in sport?
Did you know that, as many other spaces, access to public playgrounds is inherently gendered? Factors such as security, type of infrastructure, location, etc. exclude many women and socio-economic groups by default. On top of that, playgrounds – free of cost and those with minimal maintenance fee – are rapidly disappearing city plans. How can we prioritise them so that accessible spaces to play continue to exist? And how do we work towards making them more secure for use by all?
Women in Sports: Reporting Sexual Harassment
Participation of women in sport is greatly hampered by the threat of sexual harassment and the lack of adequate redressal mechanisms in place. Women should not have to choose between having a growing career in sport, and being treated with respect and having their complaints taken seriously. Women should not have to accept harassment as a cost for playing sport!
From the above posts it is clear that sport is exclusionary along several lines: gender, sexuality, body, caste, and class. There is much room for improvement, and if worked upon, sport can truly fulfill its potential in being an inclusive space that transcends social gaps, and allows enjoyment and fitness for all. Let us strive to make sport more accessible and safe!
Also read: 13 Indian Sportswomen Who Made Us Proud in 2019
Manasi Pant and Maduli Thaosen from FII worked on #TheSportsEdit series with The Bastion.