9. Women in Obstacle Course Racing Part 2

Date: 19 September 2022
Women in Obstacle Course Racing

Women in Obstacle Course Racing Part 2


Why do women not compete in sports that men are predominant in? Well, here is why!  This Blog is a 7- to 10-minute read.


From an ultra-running coach:

Rightly or wrongly, women’s sport doesn’t have the same status as men’s sport. Even in athletics, the sport where the gender gap is closer than all but gymnastics, synchronised swimming and netball, there are fewer female participants and winning margins are generally larger in women’s events.

With a few exceptions, female world stars are less well known and receive less media focus, female coaches are still the exception rather than the rule, and – shock, horror – winning performances are inferior to the men’s equivalent.

Making everything the same – in the name of equality – isn’t going to change that! It may even make it worse. What’s the next step – men and women chasing over the same height barriers or putting the same weight shot?

And sometimes, in order to be really fair to female participants, we sometimes need to think about the spectators as well as the participants! We need to keep things entertaining.

When races, gear manufacturers, and coaching organizations take steps to promote female participation in sports, everyone wins. When we ignore the gender gap we do so at our peril. Eventually, the lack of female representation at races, in boardrooms, and in coaching organizations will simply reinforce the male-dominated culture of the sport and further diminish female participation.

If you want to keep a community small, make it exclusive. A male-dominated culture excludes half the potential members of the community. If we want the sport to thrive – with or without an increase in total participation numbers – the culture has to be inclusive. Even economists would agree: that women have a greater impact than men in terms of driving consumer sales and economic development.

So what can the average sports women do to help bring women into the sport? Lead, take part in, or support events at the community and running club levels that encourage female participation. Support the efforts of local running stores and race directors who are working to bring new sports into the sport

Although gender equality is an issue faced by every single woman in the world, there is a high probability that the sports industry is the area that suffers the most from this problem. Besides the challenges that athletes encounter on a daily basis, female athletes have to confront several other complications on and off their fields of work.

Female athletes are involved in an eternal fight for their rights; a fight that makes several of them go as far as to give up on their dreams. The problems are countless. Women are objectified by fans, commentators, and even coaches because people look at women’s sports as a showcase for their pleasure. Female athletes have to deal with sexist comments coming especially from men who think these female athletes aren’t strong or talented enough to perform well.

But even with women’s teams gaining popularity around the world, it seems that equality between genders is inevitably going to be an issue in the sports industry for many more years. This is because people continue to deny that female athlete are capable enough to perform at a high level and to make a spectacle for their audience. I am a big believer in gender equality and passionate about equal rights, equal pay and equal recognition, not only when it comes to our female athletes, but for women in general.

Gender equality in sports has always been a controversial topic. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, said in 1896, “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.”

Focus, determination, pain, disappointment, excitement, suspense, anger, relief: it’s all a part of the game whether you are a man or a woman.


Gender Equality – the stats!

In America 40% of sportspeople are women, however, only 6-8% of the total sports media coverage is devoted to them. And women-only sports stories add up to just 3.5%of all sports stories in the four major US newspapers.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than females do. Additionally, collegiate institutions spend just 24% of their athletic operating budgets on female sports, as well as just 16% of recruiting budgets and 33% of scholarship budgets on female athletes.

Some people have the argument that “women’s sport isn’t interesting enough”. And even though over the years the popularity of women’s sports is growing, unfortunately, the media coverage and sponsorship dollars haven’t necessarily followed through and gender equality remains an issue.

What it boils down to is that we, collectively, men and women, need to do more about gender equality. We need to pave the way for our daughters, just as we do our sons. There should be no disparity in sports, in the workplace, or in life. Women and men should be seen as, and treated as, equals in all respects. Gender should not be the thing that defines us or separates us from our fellow athletes

Let’s show our daughters that they can be whatever they want to be, and get paid well for it too! We are told female athletes are paid less than men because they generate less money. But that will always be the case if women’s sports aren’t marketed properly.

In women’s sports, we talk a lot about equal pay. The focus of the conversation is usually on how women make less than men, the unfairness of the disparity despite the equal amount of work they put in, and how female athletes often have to work full-time jobs on top of being full-time athletes.


Fast Facts:

  • 70% of sports now offer the same amount of prize money for men and women. But in the 30% that don’t, the difference runs into the millions.
  • There are 2 million more men than women taking part in sports at least once per week.
  • 0.4% of the total commercial investment in sports goes into women’s sports.
  • Only half of the governing bodies in sports currently meet the government target to have women making up one-quarter of the people sitting around the boardroom table.
  • Men’s professional soccer clubs in Europe are the world’s wealthiest sports entities and at least 10 European soccer players earn more than $14 million per year.
  • When it comes to women, tennis is by far the most lucrative sport for female athletes.
  • Coaches in women’s team sports at the college level earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by head Coaches of men’s teams.


The US women’s soccer team has brought the conversation to the forefront over the last three years. After they won the World Cup in 2015, it was revealed that the US women’s team were paid a quarter of what the men earned. This was despite the women generating $20m more than the men that year.

The women’s Soccer in the US national team filed a wage discrimination act against US Soccer, and in turn received a significant raise, increased game bonuses, improved per diem stipends, better travel benefits, and more financial aid for players who are pregnant or adopting.

But that was not enough.

In March, the women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer. The media lasered in on the equal pay portion of the lawsuit but ignored other facets. And there’s one issue in the lawsuit that is more important than equal pay: the argument that the women’s team is not marketed or promoted as much as the men, which leads to lower attendance and merchandise sales.

This point should not be ignored. In fact, it should be the headline, but writing “Women’s soccer doesn’t receive as many marketing dollars” isn’t as attention-grabbing as “Women’s soccer team, wildly more successful than the men, makes less than half of what men earn”.

There is systematic sexism in sports that leads to unequal pay, which starts with how women are marketed by their own leagues

As Washington Mystics player Elena Delle Donne said: “We absolutely do not get promoted as our male counterparts do. Yes, I’m talking about the NBA. When you put millions of dollars into marketing athletes and allowing fans to get to know a player they develop a connection with someone or something you are more engaged and continue to want to see/learn more. How is anyone going to get to know me or any of my colleagues if we aren’t marketed as much?”

The root of the problem isn’t what women are getting paid: it is the lack of foundation that they have to build to capitalize on their talent. When we make equal pay the central part of the conversation, we miss all the smaller things that enable a system that hurts women’s advancement in sports and their opportunity to generate equal revenue, and in return warrant equal pay. And when the marketing isn’t there, it gives ammo to the usual critics who say: “See? They don’t generate enough interest.”

And it’s not just the governing bodies that need to step up and give more money to promote women’s leagues. We also need to look at corporate sponsors. According to a 2018 Statista report, women’s sports receive only 0.4% of total sponsorships.

When we look at these numbers, how can we ever expect that women will have the funds to fully develop leagues and players? Sure, equal pay is a hot topic, but in women’s sports, it’s irrelevant until we start looking at the hurdles set in place to keep women from ever crossing the finish line.

The truth is, that women’s sports will not achieve parity if the barriers that keep them in the trenches remain. We can talk about equal pay all we want, but it doesn’t matter until we start investing equally in how we market and promote these athletes.

Sports coverage is hugely powerful in shaping norms and stereotypes about gender. The media has the ability to challenge these norms, promoting a balanced coverage of men’s and women’s sports and a fair portrayal of sportspeople – irrespective of gender.


The portrayal of Women in Sports Media

Media representations of sports and athletes can contribute to the construction of harmful gender stereotypes. Media tend to represent women athletes as women first and athletes second. Coverage of women in sports is often dominated by references to appearance, age or family life, whereas men are depicted as powerful, independent, dominating, and valued as athletes.


Number of Women Broadcasters

In recent times, sports broadcasting has become more accessible to women. However, numbers show that there is still a noticeable gap. Currently, a low % of sports broadcasters are women, and weekday hosts on sports radio stations are female. The number of women who enter sports journalism is still relatively low, and this particular area of reporting remains a predominantly male-dominated speciality in countries all over the world.


Coverage of Women’s Competitions and Practice

There continues to be an imbalance in the quality and quantity of sports coverage for sportswomen compared to that of men. Two weeks of Olympic coverage are a rare time when sustained coverage of women sports stars hits the headlines. Yet outside the period of major sporting festivals, statistics claim that 40% of all sports participants are women, yet women’s sports receive only around 4% of all sports media coverage. And, of that limited coverage, women are often objectified or demeaned.


Nearly 40 per cent of women in the sports industry face discrimination based on their gender. Eighty-four per cent of American athletes have witnessed or experienced homophobia or transphobia in sports. Fifty-three percent of all reports made to anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out involved racism.

Though society is working toward becoming more inclusive of all races, genders, sexualities, religions and abilities, discrimination in sports continues to be a blight on what should be a fun atmosphere. You should strive to thoroughly and quickly investigate all examples of discrimination to make sports inclusive.

In 2015, the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final between the US and Japan became the most-watched soccer game in US history with 25.4 million viewers. Despite this, female athletes still face harassment and discrimination in sports at all levels of play.

While women make up around 40 per cent of sports participants, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport discovered that they only receive about four per cent of sports media coverage.

Because their games are scheduled for less desirable times and are barely discussed in the media, women’s professional sports teams earn much less than their male counterparts, as their wages are revenue-based.

Female athletes also have to deal with how they are perceived by the public. Men who play professional sports are seen as heroes who live and breathe their game. However, women are seen as mothers or wives first and athletes second. Toxic gender stereotypes also lead female athletes to be objectified and sexualized, their looks garnering more press than their skills.

The recent USA Gymnastics scandal shined a spotlight on sexual harassment in sports. The organization has filed for bankruptcy after being sued by a number of former gymnasts who allege they were abused by coaches and doctors.

While gender discrimination in sports most negatively affects women, gender stereotypes in sports also affect men. Male athletes who participate in “feminine” sports like figure skating and dance at a young age are often bullied. Men are often expected to be tall, big and muscular to play any sport and may be discriminated against if they don’t fit that body type.



  • Support women’s and girls’ sports as a fan or players. Attend women’s sports games at all levels. Play a sport if you are an athlete. Support female athletes by watching their games on television or following them on social media.
  • Develop gender equity policies. Sports organizations need to work towards gender equity. Women doing equal work should have equal participation opportunities, financial aid or funding, wages and benefits as their male counterparts.
  • Avoid sexist language in communications. When writing about women’s sports, avoid using innuendos or belittling athletes by alluding to their outfits or family roles outside the game. Use the same vivid language when describing both female and male athletes’ performances.
  • Establish a whistle-blower program. An easy-to-use, secure and anonymous whistleblowing platform can capture discrimination and harassment complaints in your sports organization. Coming forward to expose unfair practices can be daunting, so maintaining whistleblowers’ security and privacy is key.
  • Hire more female sports executives. Encouraging women to pursue careers as players, coaches, trainers, executives and journalists can push sports towards gender equity.


Racial Discrimination in Sports


In 2018, the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport recorded 52 instances of racial discrimination in sports in the United States alone. Internationally, they noted 137 racist acts. These numbers are up from 41 and 79 acts, respectively.

Even LeBron James, one of today’s most successful basketball players, is not immune to racism. In June 2017, the athlete’s home was vandalized with racial slurs the night before that season’s NBA Finals. James responded to the incident by saying “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough.”

Athletes of colour experience harassment and discrimination from teammates, opponents, team staff and spectators. Hearing racial slurs called out at them, whether in the locker room or from the stands, is unfortunately not uncommon.

Racial discrimination in sports can also be less obvious. For instance, some sports, such as golf and tennis, may not welcome minority athletes as much as others. Because these sports are often played at paid clubs, socio-economic barriers may keep minority athletes away, as people of colour are overrepresented among America’s poor.

Sports organizations should have a zero-tolerance policy for racial discrimination and harassment. Supporting minority athletes by developing a good reporting tool and taking every case seriously will make athletes of all races feel safer and more welcome.



  • Write a zero-tolerance racism policy. This should apply to players, coaches, staff, and fans. Make it clear that racial discrimination in any form is not welcome in your organization.
  • Support athletes who speak up. Encourage players to report racial discrimination when they experience or witness it. Do not subscribe to the idea that athletes should “shut up and stick to sports” when they speak out publicly against racism.
  • Focus on inclusion. Teams should strive to include all players equally when planning team- and skill-building activities.
  • Don’t make assumptions about athletes based on race. Just because a player has a certain skin colour doesn’t make them better- or less suited to a specific sport.
  • Establish a safe sporting space for new immigrants. Immigrants come from a variety of national, racial, and linguistic backgrounds. Make your organization welcoming and accessible to them.


Religious Discrimination in Sports


Religious discrimination in sports can take many forms. Athletes may be harassed by opponents and teammates if they are even chosen for the team at all. Less direct forms of discrimination, such as not accommodating each player’s religious needs, can be just as harmful.

The traditional ways of doing things in the world of sports may not fit with some athletes’ religions. For instance, Jewish athletes can’t play a game on a Saturday and Muslim athletes may be prohibited from mixing with the opposite gender, including staff or spectators.

Sports uniforms often pose problems for religious athletes. Players may feel uncomfortable wearing uniforms with sponsor logos that don’t mesh with their beliefs (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, gambling). Uniforms may also be too revealing. Sports dress regulations should allow athletes to wear religious head coverings.

In 2017, a girl’s basketball player in Maryland was forced to miss her team’s regional final because she did not produce “documented evidence” that her hijab was worn for religious reasons. Though other coaches and officials did not have concerns about the hijab throughout the season, the opposing coach of the final game said it was in violation of the rarely-enforced rule.

Religious athletes may also have unique needs during practice and games. People may assume that fasting players will be too weak to participate. However, asking the player how to accommodate them is always better than making assumptions. Not offering players breaks from play and a quiet space for religious observation is another form of indirect discrimination in sports.



  • Reschedule games and practices when possible. Be aware that some athletes’ religions may not allow them to play on certain days of the week or times of the day.
  • Let players take breaks during games and practices for religious observation. Give them a quiet, separate space for prayer.
  • Run single-gender or closed-to-the-public events. Athletes’ religions may not allow them to mix with the opposite gender, whether it be other players, staff or spectators.
  • Accommodate religious dress in uniforms. Allow athletes to cover their heads or bodies according to their religious beliefs. Provide full-length undergarments to wear under shorts or short-sleeved tops.
  • Refresh fasting athletes. When athletes are fasting for religious reasons, they cannot drink water. Give them cold, wet towels to help them cool down.


Disability Discrimination in Sports


Disability discrimination in sports is perhaps the least talked-about form of discrimination in sports. Even if they are not being malicious, people may leave out athletes with disabilities because they don’t want to do the extra work to accommodate them.

Sports organizations need to provide a range of options when it comes to including athletes with disabilities. Consider the inclusion spectrum, which includes everything from making no modifications to creating teams exclusively for those with disabilities. Asking athletes how you can meet their needs (rather than assuming) is the best way to combat disability discrimination in sports.



  • Make modifications. Modifying the teaching style, rules, equipment and environment of a sport can make it more accessible for athletes with disabilities. These modifications can be minor or major and should maintain the integrity of the sport.
  • Establish disability-friendly sports teams. Teams that are primarily for people with a disability (like mixed-ability wheelchair basketball) or only for people with a disability (like a blind soccer league) give athletes the chance to play a game that fits their needs.
  • Offer non-playing roles. If participating in an activity as an athlete is not possible, offer the person with a disability a role on the team like a coach, referee, team president or volunteer.
  • Create accessible sports facilities. Install features that make the facility easier for those with disabilities to use (like ramps and equipment with Braille on the buttons). Have resources available to modify programming.
  • Remove economic barriers for athletes with disabilities. High transportation costs and the need for specialized equipment may keep people with disabilities from participating in sports. Offer financial solutions to those who wish to join your organization.


LGBTQ Discrimination in Sports


The USA ranks worst in homophobia in sports according to Out On the Fields, the first-ever international study on the subject. LGBTQ athletes often face physical abuse, verbal threats, cyberbullying and exclusion from team social activities. Teammates, opponents and spectators may also make homophobic jokes or use slurs.

One troubling example of homophobia in sports comes from former Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland. Discussing homosexuality in 1986, Portland told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I will not have it in my program.”

She went on to verbally abuse players who did not act “feminine enough” and who she suspected were lesbians. In 2005, former player Jen Harris sued Portland and the school’s athletic director for discrimination. After an investigation, Portland was fined and given diversity training.

LGBTQ discrimination in sports has made the news recently as the United States Congress debates the passing of the Equality Act. The act would update the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity.

However, opponents of the act worry about athletes who were born male participating in women’s sports. They say that allowing trans women to play alongside cisgender women would give trans athletes an advantage, though this would violate this new act if it passes.



  • Require regular inclusion training. Players and staff should participate in an annual program that teaches how to avoid discrimination in sports.
  • Include LGBTQ in your harassment policy. Make sure everyone in your organization knows that discrimination and harassment for sexuality or gender identity are just as unacceptable as it is for religion, race or ability.
  • Run an anti-homophobia campaign. Participate in programs like the You Can Play project or AthleteAlly to show your organization supports LGBTQ athletes.
  • Promote positive spaces. Display signs and stickers around fields, arenas, locker rooms and offices to show your support for gay and transgender athletes.
  • Offer LGBTQ information on your website. Prominently display equity statements and include links to LGBTQ resources (e.g. gay teams or groups).



You will be able to find all the necessary equipment at your local sports store:

Follow this site for all your specific OCR equipment needs:


Just a note: You can’t just wear any type of shoes at a Spartan Race; otherwise, you are putting yourself at risk of a severe injury. The best kind of shoe to wear at an obstacle race must have enough traction and stability to navigate through the obstacles without slipping or falling. Plus, most Spartan Race courses involve trail running, and therefore, there are no better shoes to wear than actual trail running shoes.

The best and recommended shoes for the Spartan Race are:

Salomon Speed cross trail running shoes

Salomon trail running shoes are the perfect footwear for obstacle racing. They have all the right features and benefits to run a Spartan Race confidently.


Please note: I do not take any responsibility for an accident, disability, death, public liability, third party, medical costs, destruction of property, damages to self or others, destruction of all equipment, disability, personal liability, general liability, self-harm, suicide, harm to livestock, harm to animals, harm to children and intentional bodily harm, for using any of the listed products and suppliers. Please consult with the manufacturers and instructors, when buying the equipment that is suitable for you.

If you wish to learn more about this sport and its history, just pop me a mail and I will send the information to you: info@tanyasworldofsports.co.za

When you are ready to take on those mounts, Please take a moment and bow to people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.

My views, comments and content are strictly are of my own opinion and research and are not governed or influenced by any marketing of companies or brands. It is of my own free will to mention companies and brands that supply sporting equipment pertaining to the sport in the discussion.