Where Can I Find Good Coverage of Women’s Sports?

You might know from some of my posts that I’m a fan of women’s (and men’s) sports.  But it’s always been frustrating for me to find the results of women’s events.  CNN.com is my primary source for sports but there is almost no women’s coverage there.  On its main sports page, CNN has these tab headings: NFL, College Football, Major Leage Baseball, NBA, College Basketball, Golf, NHL, Racing, Soccer, Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing, Tennis, and “More.”  Under College Basketball, there is no coverage of women’s NCAA basketball or of the WNBA.  Under Golf, there is no coverage of the LPGA.  Under Soccer, there is no coverage of the WPS.  Tennis is the only specific sport tab that has a subheading (the WTA) for a women’s sport.

And so, other than for tennis, you have to go to “More” in CNN.com to find anything about women’s sports, where it lists Olympics, Track and Field, Figure Skating, Women’s College Basketball, and the WNBA.  Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?  Don’t you think that CNN could at least have a main heading of Women’s Sports, even though that would still be woefully inadequate compared to the men’s headings.  (The coverage within those “More” women’s headings is still inadequate, of course, but I’m only talking about the headings for now.)

ESPN.com is my secondary source for sports news and it is not much better than CNN.com.  ESPN’s main headings are NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NASCAR, Soccer, and “More Sports.”  But it at least has a heading for women’s basketball under NCAA Basketball.  Again, almost the sole coverage of women’s sports is under “More Sports,” where it lists Women’s Basketball, but nothing else specific at that level other than “espnW.”

Somehow I had never known of espnW until this morning when I read a short comment about it in the sports pages of my local newspaper.  The comment said it is where ESPN focuses on women’s sports.  That sounded good–I thought–a single site where I could go to get coverage of all women’s sports.  Alas, it was not to be.  When I went to espnW, the tag said: “Online Destination for Female Sports Fans and Athletes.”  In other words, this is not a site in which to find total coverage of women’s sports.  Instead, it is a site for females to go to read about sports-related things that (according to ESPN) interest females.  My take on this meaning was confirmed by the main categories on the site.  They were WNBA, Tennis, Golf, Women’s World Cup, and Major Leage Baseball.  Major League Baseball has no female players, of course, and many of the articles about other sports are about male athletes.  And, so, this site is as I suspected–a site that writes about what it thinks females are interested in.  Being a male and feminist, I feel somewhat bad about not being in the target audience, but, if it gave me the game and competition results that I’m looking for, that wouldn’t matter.

Then the stereotyping of espnW really kicks in.  Seemingly a majority of the articles are not about the results of games and competitions, but about what the old ABC TV coverage of the Olympic games would call “Up Close and Personal.”  This has been the long-held stereotypical view of women that they don’t care about sports per se but only about the personal side of sports.  A little of that is fine, but, to me, it has to be secondary to the actual results.

And, so, I will not be adding espnW to my bookmarks.  I guess it’s a step in the right direction, but, really, it’s only continuing stereotypical thinking about women’s sports.  But I encourage you to look at the site and let me know if you think it’s a good step.  And, if you know of any good sites, please, please, let me know that too.  I want to go to a main site that has coverage of all sports, men and women.  I don’t want to have to go to one site for the WNBA, another for the WPS, etc.

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“It’s not because [Palin and Bachmann] have breasts, it’s because they are boobs”

I always have a problem with Bill Maher.  I almost always agree with what he says.  And I thought his movie “Religulous” was hilarious.  But I don’t like his “style” as a comedian and he sometimes is unnecessarily “anti” particular individuals.  And his comments on women sometimes (often?) sound sexist.

But, on his HBO show this past Friday, he got it right about sexism.  His “New Rule” was that Republicans have to stop making up “intricate psychological reasons” for why liberals don’t like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.  His (correct) answer was that the reason is because they are “crazy people” and are “not that bright and are full of awful ideas.”  He summarized by saying that “”it’s not because they have breasts, it’s because they are boobs.”

It got better.  He (obviously correctly) stated that it’s not sexist to point out how terrible Palin and Bachmann are, but that it is sexist for the main stream media to plaster their papers and magazines with Palin and Bachmann while providing far less coverage of not so “pretty” people, such as Tim Pawlenty, who have at least some reasonable things to say (if you can ever say that any Republican has anything reasonable to say).  Maher showed six Newsweek covers of Palin and, then, in a great moment for atheists like me, said: “If you want to know where most of this nation’s sexism is really coming from, you don’t have to look any further than the one person who makes the cover of Newsweek more often than Sarah Palin”–and then showed Newsweek covers that have had Jesus on then.

He correctly pointed out that “in America, you’re allowed to justify almost any kind of bigotry, sexism or intolerance if you source it” to “God” or some kind of so-called “holy” book.  I couldn’t agree more.  And, as an example of that, the response by his audience when the Newsweek Jesus covers were shown shows the fear that Americans have of criticizing religion.  The audience, almost surely a vastly liberal audience, was almost silent when the Jesus covers were shown, save for a few nervous laughs.

When people like Palin and Bachmann are harmfully wrong, they deserve to be criticized–if not actually ignored.  The same should go for anyone hiding behind–and espousing– the ignorance of religion.

Here is the clip.

Iranian Women’s Soccer Team Banned from Chance to Compete in Olympics because of the Wearing of Headscarves

Politics and sports and women. Again we have the intermingling of the powerful men in a world sports organization with women athletes and politics. Last week, in an Olympic qualifying round in Amman, Jordan, FIFA (the world soccer governing body) officials refused to allow the Iranian national women’s team to compete in a match with Jordan because they were wearing headscarves that covered their necks.  Thus, Iran forfeited the game and lost out on any chance its women players would have to compete in the Olympics.

Iranian Women's Soccer Team with the "unsafe" head scarves

According to FIFA, the reason for the ban on wearing headscarves was “safety.” FIFA had implemented a new rule last year that allows women to wear “a cap that covers their head to the hairline, but which does not extend below the ears to cover the neck.” Of course, there is no logical reason why a cap that goes to the hairline is safe but a headscarf that goes to the neck is unsafe. And, so, why has FIFA implemented this rule? Well, as frequently happens with FIFA, no one seems to know the real reason. For example, FIFA supposedly has a rule that prohibits players from wearing clothing that has religious or political symbols.  However, as an exception to that rule, FIFA accommodates Muslim women and gives them the choice of wearing long pants instead of shorts.

Iran is certainly complicit in what has occurred. For example, it previously accepted the rule on headscarves when, last summer in Singapore, it had the players on one of its youth teams cover their heads but not their ears or necks.  Interestingly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a soccer fan and has previously interjected himself into soccer disputes. He even, in 2006, lifted a ban on women watching soccer matches in Iranian stadia, but was overruled by “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei. Now, Ahmadinejad has vowed to “seriously confront” FIFA about the ban on headscarves.

The losers in all of this, of course, are the female athletes.  (Isn’t it always?)  They want to play soccer on the world stage and now cannot. According to Shahrzad Mozafar, the team’s former head coach, “This ruling means that women soccer in Iran is over. . . . Headscarves are simply what we wear in Iran.” She said that if FIFA no longer allows Iranian women to wear scarves, the Iranian government will no longer send them abroad for competitions.

Almost certainly, if you ask the players, they would say that it was their choice to forfeit the game because they cannot violate their religious tenets. But can anyone really believe that?  After all, the youth team competed without wearing regular head scarves. No, this is simply another case of patriarchal officials imposing religiosity on its citizens.

I have written previously that I concur with France’s decision to ban the burqa.  But wearing a head scarf is far less dehumanizing than wearing a burqa. It is tempting to think that forcing the women’s team out of international existence will cause Iran to change its patriarchal beliefs. Maybe some additional compromise can be reached. But I think the only realistic move that will allow these women to compete will be for FIFA to eliminate the rule.

Stereotyping Ad for Cosmetic-Surgery Office?

There is a company in Reston, Virginia, named the Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery.  It frequently runs full-page ads in the Sunday Washington Post Magazine.  The latest series of ads caught my feminist-attentive eye and appear to me to be at the least, strange, and at the most, stereotyping and discriminatory.

The thing that caught my eye is the upper-right photo that purports to show the “Austin-Weston Center Staff.”  Does it bother anyone that the three doctors are male and that the entire “staff” is female?

My guess is that there actually are some males on the “staff” (their web site shows one male) and that they chose to include only the females in the photo.  (Btw, each black shirt says “Botox.”)  Why would that be?  Do they think that potential cosmetic-surgery customers will be enticed to use their services because all of the staff is female?  That’s either strong stereotyping or discrimination against potential male employees.

The All-Women “Last Supper”

Friends of mine were showing me their photos from a recent trip to Spain.  One of the photos was taken in the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor in Ronda, Spain.  Remarkably, the photo is of a painting in the church that depicts the “Last Supper,” but with all women, including a female Christ.

I did some googling and was unable to find any details about the painting such as the artist and when it was done.  In fact, I only found a very few photos of it.  One of the photos has a comment that the painting was “smuggled” into the church, but that seems suspect since it has apparently been there for quite some time.  Another photo had the comment that “The bishop who commissioned the work was apparently losing his sight and didn’t notice.”  If anyone has any information about the painting, please let us know.  Here it is for your enjoyment.

The Top Protest Songs

The Nation is conducting a survey of the top protest songs of all time.  If you want to tell them your choice, go here.  And here are the choices of one of The Nation editors along with the choices of some people he surveyed.  Some of those mentioned are Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys on Mopeds,” Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth,” Sam Cooke’s “Change Is Gonna Come,” Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man,” Steve Earle’s “Jerusalem,” Louis Armstrong’s “Black and Blue,” Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy,” and Neil Young’s “Shock and Awe.”

For me, there are so many to choose from, but, just because it’s very recent and because I love the music, I’ll choose the Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello live version of Ghost of Tom Joad performed at the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert.  It captures the essence of the hardships from “The Grapes of Wrath,” which obviously are still here today.  (I also like the fact that Morello has a hand-printed “Arm the Homeless” on his guitar.)

Another relatively recent protest song I really like is P!nk’s “Dear Mr. President” (Live at Wembley version) about George Bush.  While you think of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello for their protest songs, it’s great to see P!nk take a chance by doing something that could have harmed her career (but obviously didn’t) .  (And that always makes me think of Natalie Maines’ comments about Bush, which also did not (ultimately) hurt the Dixie Chicks’ popularity).

Obama the Conservative?

When I was voting for President Obama in 2008, I felt that at least he was a moderate–but with some possibility that he had liberal tendencies.  Obviously, for a liberal like me, he was better than Bush.  And I thought he had more of a chance to support liberal causes than did Hillary Clinton.  The deciding factor for me was that I thought he would improve the image of the United States throughout the world–more than would Clinton.

I’m not going to say I made a mistake in who I supported in 2008 since I don’t know that Clinton would have done any better.  And it’s probably going too far to call him a conservative.  But, at this point, I don’t even know if he can be called a moderate.  In any event, I think it’s very fair to say that he doesn’t know how to be a President who leads the country.

I have been criticizing Obama almost since he took office that he would not stand up for what he believes in.  He could say good (progressive) things at first, only to back down later on.  He became more of a mediator and less of a leader as time went by.  The problem was, and is, that he doesn’t know how to mediate (i.e., in his case how to negotiate).  Most mediations open with each side staking out a position that would give them everything they want.  And sometimes one of the sides will open with am extreme position that they know is unwinnable but that will cause the dialog to start at a position more tilted toward them than would otherwise be the case.  (The Republicans, obviously, do both of those constantly.)

But that’s not the way Obama negotiates.  He opens with a position that is not what he really wants and then capitulates toward the other side from there.  (If he opens with the positions he really wants, then maybe it truly is correct to call him a conservative.)  The latest example of this–and it is a huge example that could completely change the meaning of being an American–is the current battle regarding the budget and deficit spending.  Rather than taking a position that preserves benefits for medium- and low-income Americans (i.e., most of the country), he is already compromising on Medicare and Medicaid.  It makes absolutely no sense for a President to open the negotiations by saying that any reductions in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid must be accompanied by tax increases on the rich and cuts in defense spending.  But that is what he is doing.  This is out and out stupidity.  He should be opening by saying that he will not accept any spending cuts on those types of programs and that the real issue is income, not spending.  Doesn’t it seem that it should be easy to convince voters that tax increases on the rich will result in the deficit going down while programs that they have come to know and love will not have to change?  It just makes no sense to me that the medium- and low-income voters (again, this means almost all voters) would want to allow the rich to get richer while they, themselves, get screwed.  And why does Obama think that opening toward the right will help him in the polls?  The Republicans will just keep criticizing him until he goes farther and farther to the right.  That doesn’t help his poll numbers.

It’s no secret that progressives (like me) have been hugely disappointed by Obama.  If the budget and deficit negotiations end up with no tax increases for the rich and massive cuts on “entitlement” programs, the only question for progressives like me will be to decide whether we will stop supporting Obama at all and whether we will support a progressive candidate, rather than Obama, in the next election.  After all, how can you tell the difference between Obama and a conservative?