Levelling the Playing Field – by Lesley Apelbaum

November 25, 2015

Canadian cross-country runners and coaches are speaking out for equality.

Throughout Canada, women’s cross-country races are typically shorter than men’s races. Runners and coaches, both women and men have started speaking up, contacting their organizations and holding their own distance-equal races. However, the trend has not caught on. High schools, universities and athletic associations continue to train their female athletes to run shorter distances than their male counterparts.

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Steve Boyd, coach at Queen’s University put forth a motion for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) coaches to commit to gender equality in cross-country racing distances starting in 2016. It was declined.

This double standard is based on the premise that women are weaker than men. It’s a premise that’s inaccurate, old-fashioned, sexist and demoralizing.

There was once a time when these issues were never discussed. Now it’s coming to the fore. Last week we blogged about Kaillie Humphries’ fight for gender equality in bobsleigh. Last summer, when FIFA World Cup organized the women’s soccer at a stadium with astroturf, many of the women’s teams and players advocated for the instalment of real grass, equal to the men’s soccer stadiums. Women are gradually being recognized and accepted in the men’s leagues too, like Becky Hammon, the first female full-time assistant coach in the NBA. She paved the way for Nancy Lieberman to join the King’s as a female assistant last summer. A few months ago, Jessica Mendoza became the first female game analyst for a nationally televised MLB postseason game. Jen Welter was accepted as an assistant coach intern for the NFL preseason. She’s believed to be the first female coach of any kind in their history. And Sarah Thomas debuted as the first female NFL referee.

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Road to Possible supports all initiatives to level the playing field. Our profiles are currently gender-balanced. We want to maintain a balance in the gender, race, religion and age of our profiles as much as possible, reflecting the makeup of our society. On Road to Possible we stand for equality, inclusion and diversity in all forms. We believe that all people should have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams, move forward with their ambitions.

Do you feel that real progress is being made? Do you know anyone addressing these issues, be it in sport or anything else? We want to hear from you – please share your stories with us. Let’s keep the conversation and progress moving forward.

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