“The representation of our sport is vast; a melting pot of cultures, character, intrigue and conviction.” –USA Shooting
There aren’t many arenas left in the United States where men and women don’t have an equal opportunity. Yet, of those segregated spaces still left, one of them is our nation’s largest past time—sports.
Though there are some young women playing football on high school and college male football teams, there is yet to be a female professional football…soccer, hockey or basketball for that matter…player. In fact, there are very few sports in the world where men and women compete against or even at least with, each other.
No matter the discipline, sports are segregated by sex. This tradition is based on an outdated belief that men are superiorly stronger than women despite long-term testing that women athletes have just as much strength and stamina when it comes to aerobic-type sports. According to next.com, from 1983 to now, women’s sports records are about 90% of that of men’s. It is important to note here, researchers who study athletes don’t disregard biological differences between men and women. Barry Gewen in the New York Times writes, “…the present sexual segregation in sport is based not on physical reality but on anachronistic notions of women as ‘the weaker sex.’”
There are mixed-sex sports where teams comprised of both men and women like tennis and curling. Despite advancement, there are still very little sports were women compete against men—car and horse racing are two of these. But the world’s elite athletes can only compete individually against each other in equestrian and sailing in the Olympics. One sport which men and women compete equally is the shooting sports.
Though Olympic shooting hasn’t been integrated since the 1990s, the International Shooting Sport Federation says sex segregation has allowed more women to join. In 2008, Olympic shooting had 145 women participating. Shooting has been an Olympic sport since 1896 and was a mixed event from 1968 to 1993.
Take this as you will, but at the 1992 Olympic Games, Chinese female shooter Shan Zhang scored 373 out of 375 winning gold and establishing a new world record. Shan was the “first woman to topple the men in the history of the Olympic Games’ shooting competition. Since that time, no mixed events have been held in an Olympic shooting competition.” (USA Shooting)
One of the U.S.’s most decorated athletes is a sports shooter. Kim Rhode holds three gold medals and six medals in total. In fact, in 2016, Kim became the first American Olympian ever to win six consecutive medals and “the only woman in history to win individual medals in six consecutive Olympic games.” (Winchester.com)
There are 15 different shooting events in the Olympics. Six of these are for women. In 2020, 10m air rifle, 10m air pistol and clay trap shooting will become a mixed event. Olympic sports shooting takes incredible skill and concentration. Olympic sport shooters are highly trained and professional athletes.
The shooting sports are one of the very few in the world that provides a truly equal opportunity for women as it does men and now an award-winning sportswriter wants to take that away.
On his website, 3wiresports.com, “award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst” Alan Abrahamson writes, “At the Olympics, the guns have to go — that is, be gone.”
He continues to write that the Olympics should promote “the best of humankind” and that the Olympic values of “excellence, friendship, respect and tolerance” do not align with the shooting sports.
For someone who claims to be one of the country’s premier Olympic journalists, it is obvious after reading his editorial that he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to the shooting sports. He not only discredits himself in his ignorance but may have just called himself out as a sexist.