All posts filed under: Sport

The Uncertain Boundaries of Corporate Morality

A deeply unusual public spectacle has been playing out in Australia for a number of weeks involving a prominent rugby player, a mangled bible verse, the rugby player’s wife, a crowdfunding platform, a major bank and a health insurance fund. All the elements of a terrible joke are present, yet the core of the matter—the messy intersection of legal freedom and corporate morality—is proving to be serious. Rugby player Israel Folau, domestic and international superstar, allegedly breached his contract with Rugby Australia by posting an adaptation of a bible verse to Instagram which suggested unrepentant homosexuals would ultimately find themselves in hell, alongside liars, adulterers, persons with tattoos, and a variety of other sinners. As a consequence of his refusal to remove the post, Folau’s lucrative contract with Rugby Australia was terminated. The legality of this decision has yet to be decided in court. The case has attracted immense interest and is already being touted as a potential landmark for freedom of religion and religious expression in the domain of Australian employment law and—to a …

A Victory for Female Athletes Everywhere

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) this week upheld the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations governing eligibility for the women’s category in international elite athletics competition. In effect, CAS decided the question “who is a woman” for purposes of elite sport. And it ratified the IAAF’s preferred answer: A woman in sport is anyone whose legal identity is female—whether they personally identify as such or not—and who has testosterone (T) levels in the female range. That may seem like a mere technical ruling. But as I’ll explain in this article, the ramifications are profound for female athletics everywhere—a cause that has been central to my life and to the lives of millions of girls and women worldwide. The female range for testosterone is categorically different from the male range. In general, males have 10 to 30 times more T than females. Most females, including most elite female athletes, have T levels in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). For men, typical values are 10 to 35 nmol/L. The …

Sex Differences, Gender, and Competitive Sport

Sport often presents us with striking visual examples of how certain aspects of society play out. Whether it be nationalism, leadership, teamwork, competitiveness, or the ability of humans to achieve truly great acts, sport is an embodiment of how these factors interact and display themselves on a world stage. Sport also offers some of the most obvious visual representations of inherent biological sex differences between men and women. Unfortunately, although perhaps not surprisingly, the current desire for equality and inclusion, and the general misunderstandings about biological sex as an evolutionary process has resulted in questions and confusion around the traditional use of sex categories in sport. In some ways this also highlights the difficulties that may be apparent with the erosion of sex categories in other areas of life, such as regarding prisons, changing areas and the issues of equal pay. As a performance scientist and someone who has worked in elite sport for over a decade, I am interested in the determinants of physical performance and how to manipulate and enhance these variables. Over …

Confronting a New Threat to Female Athletics

On 17 February, tennis legend Martina Navratilova published an article in the The Sunday Times wherein she voiced her concerns about men who “decide to be female” participating in women’s sports. The followup to this publication was met with Navratilova being subsequently dropped as an ambassador by Athlete Ally, an organisation which supports LGBT athletes, and she was removed from the advisory board of Trans Actualy, a non-profit U.S. organization. Here’s the back story. In December, Navratilova responded to a tweet from one of her followers about female-identified biological males participating in women’s sport: “Clearly that can’t be right. You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.” Rachel McKinnon, a male-born Canadian philosophy professor who competes against women as a transgender athlete, weighed in with a lengthy social-media dissertation, in which McKinnon informed Navratilova that “people’s genitals are irrelevant to sports performance,” and called her comments “transphobic.” In recent days, this fight has entered a new phase, with Navratilova’s article …

“Basketball!” Deconstruction of a Hockey Game Taunt

On February 17, 2018, four fans at a Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey game yelled “Basketball! Basketball! Basketball!” at the Washington Capitals’ Devante Smith-Pelly, who was sitting in the penalty box. Smith-Pelly is black, and security officers removed the taunters from the arena on the grounds that the taunt was racist. Subsequently, the United Center banned them from all events, and the Blackhawks formally apologized to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals. National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman condemned the fans’ behavior, the incident prompted widespread coverage in the media, and the predictable torrent of on-line commentary followed. It's disturbing something like this happened to Devante Smith-Pelly. It's perhaps more disturbing that I've received tweets since last night wondering what's so bad about chanting "basketball" at a black NHLer. We all know the meaning/intent there. https://t.co/EIVpfgrzpv — Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 18, 2018 But was the taunt racist? Smith-Pelly certainly thought so, citing it as yet another example of the abuse to which he and his 30 fellow black NHL players have been subjected throughout their careers. In his …