Beyond the Game: the Intersectionality of Race and Gender Discrimination in Sports

Beyond the Game

Beyond the Game

Many people believe that sports represent moral code and positive values like equality, fair play, cooperation, and respect for one another. Sports may, nevertheless, also be a reflection of bad morals and unethical actions that polarize society.

Gender-based and sexual identity-based discrimination undermines the basic integrity of sports and is frequently connected to other integrity problems like abuse, harassment, or violence.

In sports, “integrity” is understood to mean “respect for oneself and others, moral responsibility and accountability.” However, the term can have different meanings in different contexts. Concerns about ethics and integrity can vary depending on the sport, age group, and system.

Race discrimination is especially crucial in the African regions, including both sports and betting on sports. If you are looking for betting options with a fair approach to betting, feel free to check

Inequalities in Sports

Even with the presence of role models, the majority of professional sports continue to follow a long-standing pattern of exclusion and similarity in which white, physically fit, heterosexual men with cisgender gender roles occupy important leadership positions. These trends can also be seen in other international sporting contexts. 

Thus, leadership roles appear to be reserved for those who have traditionally held power, even though members of underrepresented, minoritized groups often represent the majority of players.

Members of underrepresented groups may face prejudice, discrimination, and treatment bias in sports in addition to restricted access. There are significant disparities between officials, coaches, fans, administrators, and athletes. These patterns imply that, despite the fact that group diversity is frequently linked to desired outcomes, sport is a setting where people who don’t fit the mold of the typical majority encounter a variety of biases that restrict their ability to fully participate in and access sport.

It often happens that gender and racial discrimination go hand in hand, creating blatant cases of inequality in sports.

Gender Discrimination

Female athletes still experience harassment and discrimination in sports, even though the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final drew over 25 million viewers, making it the most-watched soccer match ever.

Women make up about 40% of athletes, but they only receive 4% of sports media attention. These figures provide an important context for understanding gender discrimination in sports. Women earn significantly less than men because of the scheduling of women’s sports, which often takes place at undesirable times, and the lack of media coverage of these events. The public’s perception of female athletes is another problem. 

Women are viewed as mothers or wives before they are viewed as professional athletes, whereas men who play professional sports are viewed as heroes who live and breathe their craft. 

Women are also frequently objectified and sexualized, and the media pays far more attention to their appearance than to their abilities.

However, we cannot claim that men are unaffected by gender stereotypes in sports. For instance, bullying frequently occurs to male athletes who participate in “feminine” sports like dance and figure skating when they are young. Men are expected by society to be tall, bulky, and muscular, so anyone who doesn’t meet this stereotype may face discrimination. 

Title IX

While Title IX is primarily recognized for demolishing barriers in sports for girls and women, it also permits ladies to seek careers in math and science, mandates equitable treatment for students who are pregnant or parenting, and shields students from sexual harassment and bullying, among other things.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) is a Federal civil rights law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Title IX applies to all elementary and secondary public and private schools, school districts, colleges, and universities that receive any kind of federal funding. According to Title IX, sexual harassment and sexual violence, including rape, assault, battery, and coercion, are considered forms of discrimination based on a person’s gender. Title IX forbids discrimination based on pregnancy and the failure to provide equal opportunities in athletics.

Although many women and girls have had their rights guaranteed by Title IX, which was intended to be inclusive and broad, white women have reaped the greatest benefits.

Other than sex, Title IX does not specifically address race, gender identity, disabilities, or other characteristics. The Women’s Sports Foundation discovered that compared to white women, Asian, Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other girls and women of color participate in sports at lower levels. In comparison to men with disabilities, the same was true for women with disabilities. In sports leadership, women of color are likewise underrepresented.

Racial Discrimination

No one is resistant to racism. LeBron James, the most successful basketball player ever, is an example of this. The night before the 2017 NBA Finals, racial slurs were written on his house.

Minority athletes are not as accepted as other athletes in certain sports, like tennis and golf. Minority athletes may be discouraged from participating in these sports due to socioeconomic barriers because they are frequently played at paid clubs.

Cases of Protests Against Discrimination in Sports

Professional athletes aren’t typically recognized for their social or political activism, but many have found innovative ways to express their dislike of racism, gender discrimination, and other forms of bigotry — often on the court or field.

✊???? Women were not permitted to take part in the Boston Marathon at the time Bobbi Gibb decided to run it in 1966. Because it was believed that women were not physically capable of running long distances, women were actually prohibited from competing in any running events longer than 1.5 miles at the time. Gibb persevered after being turned away from the marathon; she disguised herself and hid in the bushes before collecting the courage to go against the rules and finish the race, breathtaking and inspiring the crowd. Ultimately, her gender disqualified her from the competition.

✊???? After a year, in 1967, Kathrine Switzer signed her registration form with her initials only, making her the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon. Her participation infuriated race co-director Jack Semple, though, and he attempted to stop the race by taking off her bib. She continued running and finished the race. Even so, it took the Boston Marathon five more years to formally permit female competitors. In 1972, eight women ran the race, with Nina Kuscsik emerging as the first female winner. 

✊???? Following the alleged recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling voicing racist remarks about African Americans over the weekend, the team decided to express their outrage. On Sunday, the players covered up the Clippers logo by wearing their warm-up uniforms inside out and discarding their shooting shirts prior to their game against the Golden State Warriors. There were other demonstrations in opposition to Sterling’s purported remarks. During Sunday’s baseball game, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who was criticized by Sterling for being too dark-skinned in one of the recordings, substituted his walk-up music to Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” Kemp also expressed his “sorrow” over the Clippers having to play for Sterling.

✊???? The Phoenix Suns of the NBA declared that they would honor their Hispanic supporters by donning their “Los Suns” jersey for multiple games, presumably as another form of anti-racism protest. The move was interpreted by some as a jab at Arizona’s strict anti-immigration laws, even though the team made no mention of them. 

✊???? One of the best squash players in India declined to participate in four straight national championships beginning in 2012 because of the pay gap that exists between male and female players. Her comeback was conditional upon the championship organizers matching prize money. Many people criticized her for giving up the title for four years, saying it did not fit with the “sportsmanship spirit.” Pallikal persisted in her demand for equal pay in spite of the criticism, and she was successful in changing squash’s rules for women.

✊???? Female athletes seldom receive benefits for pregnancy. They frequently have shorter careers as a result of missing out on sponsorship and brand deals. Many sportswomen have been forced to choose between becoming mothers and pursuing their careers due to the lack of maternity leave policies in sport-related federations. Women football players from 24 clubs in England were given maternity benefits in January 2022 following the conclusion of contract negotiations. Sportswomen have successfully negotiated equal labor rights in their professions, as evidenced by this action, which was approved by the Professional Football Association (PFA). 

✊???? South African two-time Olympic gold medalist Caster Semanya has been at odds with World Athletics since 2019. Because of her inborn high testosterone levels, World Athletics prohibited Semanya from competing in races between 400 and 1600 meters in 2018. They decided that she could only take part if she had surgery or took medicine to suppress her testosterone. Semanya has since filed legal challenges against World Athletics’ discriminatory policies in three separate courts. Despite losing her appeals before the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland in 2019 and 2020, she hasn’t given up. She filed her case with the European Court of Human Rights in February 2021. Semanya tried her hardest to qualify for the 800-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but she was denied the opportunity.

✊???? Former Algerian athlete Hassiba Boulmerka emerged as a role model for numerous African female athletes. At the age of ten, she started running, eventually focusing on the 800- and 1500-meter distances. Her major accomplishment was becoming the first African woman to win a World Athletics title, which she accomplished in 1991. But she did not have an easy journey. Radical religious groups frequently attacked Boulmerka for showing too much skin while competing. She was forced to relocate to Berlin in 1992 as a result of the repeated threats she faced, including ones threatening her life. She persisted in running in spite of these threats, and at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, she took home a gold medal. 

✊???? In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Venus and Serena Williams made their tennis debuts and eventually rose to prominence. The sisters caused a stir because they rose from South Central Los Angeles to the peak of the tennis world. They had to handle racist remarks, comments about their physique, and criticism of their intensely competitive on-court behavior. When eighteen-year-old Serena began the final match at the 2001 Masters Tournament in Indian Wells, she was welcomed with a chorus of boos, some of which included the N-word. Venus and Serena boycotted Indian Wells for fourteen years after Serena won the title. 

The women’s boycott of Indian Wells symbolized a return of elite Black athletes standing up to racism, despite the fact that the boycott was initiated by personal attacks. 

The Williams sisters marked a dramatic shift from Black athletes putting money over racial politics, as evidenced by the largely silent response from prominent Black male athletes.

✊???? The Norwegian women’s beach handball team protested against the European Handball Federation’s required uniform during the 2021 European Beach Handball Championship held in Bulgaria. Contrary to the federation’s mandate, the team wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms. The federation took issue with the team’s disregard for the dress code, and they were penalized USD 1,500 for the infraction. But when it came to the required dress code, the Norwegian Handball Federation stood by the team. 


There are ways to handle gender and racial discrimination in sports.

Gender Discrimination

These are only a handful of the struggles female athletes have faced as a result of gender-based discrimination. Even though equality has come a long way, there are still many battles to be fought. Furthermore, not all of the courageous athletes who have fought for equality are included in this list. The progress made in the lengthy quest for gender parity cannot be attributed to a select few women; rather, the achievements are the result of the tireless efforts of numerous trailblazers who have confronted misogyny in athletics. The tides in sports are undoubtedly shifting now that so many more female athletes are speaking out for gender equality and against discrimination.

Strict action must be taken to prevent harassment of women in order for sport to be a safe place for them to feel protected. Women will not be allowed to freely participate in sports without such protections. 

Racial Discrimination


Education aims to address racism’s fundamental causes. Talking about the problem is essential for ending it in both sports and society at large. Here are the ways to stop racism.

Anti-Hate Policy

Anti-hate policies are a must for all sports brands in order to combat racism and discrimination in all its manifestations. To inform consumers and hold brands responsible for upholding the values they represent, these principles ought to be made available to the general public.

Diverse Employment

To guarantee that the right decisions are made for a diverse audience, a diverse workforce is required. People of color must have clear paths to leadership positions to eradicate systemic racism in sports. 


Racism and sexism in sports are still common. It’s interesting to note that surveys show that discrimination mindset is more widespread than actual discrimination. While there are some exceptions, stigmatization based on physical attributes like gender, skin tone, or body type is a common form of discrimination in sports. However, there are ways to face and fight these inequalities. Some of them are described in this article.

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