This just in, Norway’s Women's Beach Handball team has been threatened with by Olympic officials for choosing to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms. Is this a punishment that the team and fans should take lightly? Or is this a humiliating example of the puzzling and shameful way women's sports are governed, even at the highest level?
Many are asking these questions along with whether or not the act itself is something to be seen as sexist.
While all of these questions are very valid, I am forced to wonder whether there is any meaning behind the Norwegian team's refusal to wear bikini bottoms? Or was this action just in fact a choice to wear what these top athletes feel most comfortable as they try to compete for a gold medal?
Either way, we need to keep in mind that the International Handball Federation (IHF) rules do state that 'female athletes must wear bikini bottoms' along with many specific alterations to ensure that they are cut/seamed in the exact right ways.
The IHF also states that male players are supposed to wear athletic shorts.
Keeping these established rules in mind, I do believe it is honorable to follow the regulations that are expected of each player. But, do these rules reflect the feelings that a majority of the athletes have?
I mean, the whole point of playing the sport of your choice is that you love the game. We are supposed to have fun and watch our goals change as we compete throughout our careers. Since when does what we do or do not wear affect how each player competes?
Of all places, you would think that the highest caliber of athletes who earned a spot o an Olympic team should be able to feel comfortable in the clothing they wear in competition.
I fully understand being asked to wear more protection for the sport being chosen. However, I also truly believe that forcing any player to wear less clothing than what they feel comfortable doing should not even be considered.
Nonetheless, a warning was put in place that each player will have to pay a fine if they do not abide by these less-clothed rules. It is difficult to follow guidelines when they potentially feel demeaning to the person.
The reality is that the way we view women's sports and those who govern them needs a swift mindset shift.
Instead of giving our women who are simply trying to enjoy the sport they love a fine for putting more clothes on, I would strongly encourage the national governing bodies to be more inclusive of every person who wants to compete.
Allowing players this freedom will open up ample opportunities for growth with each player's athletic abilities. And also will open the doors for a world of sport that is very welcoming with an authentic environment.