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Both Sides Of The Fence: Should Hermaphrodites Play Womans Sports?

BERLIN - AUGUST 19:  Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates winning the gold medal in the women's 800 Metres Final during day five of the 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium on August 19, 2009 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images
Peter ComunaleContributor IJune 2, 2010

It's the age old question... What came first the chicken or the egg? Well in sports at times, especially the Olympic games, the question is, what came first, the woman or the man?

 

It's always amazed me how in depth we are willing to go, to answer these questions and others when dealing with competetive sports. Most recently the question arose again when South African runner Caster Semenya won the world championships in the woman's 800 meters. Although she was able to keep her gold, she was only able to do so after she was forced to submit to gender-tests. The main question here is... If Semenya finished dead last, would anyone have forced her to submit to further testing?

 

Semenya is not an isolated incident, but it is a catalyst for my question, should hermaphrodites be allowed to compete in all women's sports? And why is it only an issue when hermaphrodites, or suspected hermaphrodites do well? The same question could be asked about hermaphrodites taking part in men's sports, but aside from the curiosity factor nobody would even care. So why is it only a scandal if it involves women's athletics?

 

Certain individuals feel it's an unfair advantage to allow a hermaphrodite to compete in women's competitive sports. Other female athletes have even threatened to boycott certain events if a hermaphrodite was allowed to compete. I ask again.. If this person was the worst in the field would anyone care? Or is it that the individual in question is beating them, so they claim foul!?

 

If nothing else, I feel women should embrace the idea. We all know that women's sports almost always take a backseat to men's sports. Does the WNBA flourish over the NBA? Who made the NCAA final 4 in women's basketball is not a commonly asked question (was it even televised). Having a hermaphrodite compete means three things... NEWS, REVENUE and TV exposure... Why not embrace it, so long as we are being selfish!

 

I just don't see how you can fault someone for something that isn't there fault! Should we only allow individuals who are handicapped by some unfortunate accident after birth to compete in the Special Olympics? Are those who are handicapped at birth not eligible? I do not see how we as a society can classify someone based solely on our own selfish needs.

 

Maybe we should just go ahead and test every female athlete and classify them ahead of time so that we can assign what sports they can and cannot play. "Sally, your feet and hands are much bigger than the average female"! "Sorry, but we cannot allow you to swim in competetive sports". "Jane, you have to much muscle mass, sorry.. No lifting events for you because its unfair".

 

Getting the point here? 

 

Peter Comunale

"The Horses Mouth"

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