Posts Written by Mara

If it’s pretty, it’s not a sport

A SYTYCB entry

The Olympics are a time of unity and excitement: we acknowledge diversity and achieve international cooperation; we celebrate feats of the human body that take our collective breath away. And somehow, during all of this, yelling “but is it a sport!?” becomes another Olympic event.

According to people who whined their way through Olympics coverage, basically every single Olympic event is “not a sport.” We all heard it: in the middle of rhythmic gymnastics, during Aly Raisman’s gold medal-winning floor routine, or after watching Russian synchronized swimming, someone (usually sitting on his or her couch) got very emphatic about whether the event used too much make up, included music, or was “silly” (because clearly, kicking a ball across a field for 90 minutes or hitting a ball with a stick isn’t silly at all).

The sports world has long been valued through a masculine lens, in which the primary elements that matter are strength and speed. Skill, of course, is also valued, but if an activity is judged on how aesthetically pleasing that skill is – in other words, if any athlete is also putting on a performance – it is suddenly “not a sport.” Making things aesthetically pleasing is not masculine; in fact, most of traditional femininity is based in performance and making things look good.

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