Editorials - July 29, 2021
It’s hard to believe that in 2021 we are discussing a dress code for sports that is not tied to performance, but the European Handball Federation (EHF) recently fined the Norwegian women’s team 1,500 Euros after they dared to wear athletic shorts for their bronze-medal game, rather than the required bikini bottoms.
The EHF’s oddly specific rule dictates that the women must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres”. It’s hard to imagine that this rule serves any purpose other than the sexualization of the players. At the same time, Paralympian long jumper Olivia Breen was told that her shorts were too short at the English Championships, creating even more confusion as to what is socially acceptable for athletes, and female athletes especially.
Men’s athletic wear has always been about comfort and performance, with little to no attention paid to how well it shows off their bodies.
But, we may see the standards begin to be changing. The German gymnastics team decided to wear unitards to the Olympics, choosing to counteract sexualization in sport and making it an individual choice to wear whatever makes the individual the most comfortable to compete in.
Unless there is a reason tied to safety, performance or decency, athletes should be the ones making the decision about clothing. – DS
Make Canada American again
To mark 20 years since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Paul Tetreault of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. is staging a free return to live theatre on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this September. Speaking to The Washington Post, Tetreault said he wanted the event to acknowledge a time in which the U.S. was “really together and united”, adding that the country is “so divided” now. The performance will be Come From Away, the smash hit Broadway musical that tells the story of thousands of people from all over the world being accepted into the lives and homes of the residents of Gander, Newfoundland.
No need to dust off that atlas. Newfoundland is, in fact, in Canada. And Gander residents are, in fact, Canadians. So Tetreault, though surely good-intentioned, aims to look back glowingly at a time of American unity and acceptance with a story about Canadians doing the uniting with and accepting of those from around the world. While some U.S. citizens were uniting, flying flags and grieving losses together, Islamophobia was also taking hold across the nation. According to the FBI, nearly 500 hate crimes against Muslims were reported in the U.S. in 2001, compared to 28 in 2000. (They have remained high ever since, staying between 105 and 160 between 2002 and 2014.)
If the shoe was on the other foot, would Americans have been as welcoming? Hard to say. Some likely would have. Others would not.
Americans have a history of turning everything American, and this is yet another example. The story of Gander in September of 2001 is one of Canadian kindness and embracing common humanity and it belongs to this country. It’s not to be used as American propaganda of an idealized past that may never have existed in the first place. – SL
A rock and a hard place
In what could be the least surprising announcement at a North Huron Council meeting in some time, staff told council members that non-resident user fees may be having a negative impact on program and facility attendance. Director of Recreation and Services Vicky Luttenberger, in a report to council, said that users who select a pre-authorized recreation payment plan are down significantly and, while that could be due to COVID-19, complaints filed with the department and the municipality led her to believe it could also be due to non-resident user fees that council implemented recently. Luttenberger said there had been 10 complaints of varying severity lodged with the municipality and staff over the fees, indicating a significant issue.
Council shouldn’t be surprised by the report for two reasons. The first is because the resistance to the change had been noted by staff and council at previous meetings. Secondly, anything that creates a “two-tier” system based on location is going to frustrate the people involved.
That said, council doesn’t really have much of an option, as Reeve Bernie Bailey pointed out when Luttenberger presented the report on July 19. He said that Morris-Turnberry was paying out additional funds to other community centres to help with COVID-19 expenses while, last year, the neighbouring municipality had reduced payments to North Huron, again citing COVID-19. Luttenberger is now concerned that programs may be reduced or open only to North Huron residents. Those programs are supposed to be run on a cost-neutral basis so as to not impact taxes, meaning with fewer users and less outside funding, and, as a result, there may be a reduction in services.
Regardless of Bailey’s worry that North Huron is being portrayed as “the bad guy”, council had to know this wouldn’t be very popular. – JDS