Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly poll #10 - Are mixed gender teams a good idea?

Kate Caithness, present President of the World Curling Federation, was the person most responsible for pushing wheelchair curling onto the Paralympic stage.

In 2002 she sold the selection committee on the idea that it was a mixed gender sport, a factor she felt was crucial in their decision to include it in the 2006 Torino Paralympics.

Canada has by and large accepted WCF rules when it comes to Canadian national championships in order that Canada's teams would qualify and not be disadvantaged by preparing under non-WCF rules.

But in Canada the national champions are not allowed, as are able-bodied curlers, to represent their country. That honour is reserved for a team specially selected and trained by the Canadian Curling Association.

Many wheelchair users with experience in disabled services and sports understand that the pool of potential wheelchair athletes is predominantly male, because far more males than females sustain injuries necessitating use of a wheelchair.

Other social and family factors also reduce the number of potential female recruits to wheelchair curling, leading to far fewer teams competing for provincial honours than would otherwise be the case. Team participation at provincial championships are limited to the number of females willing to join a team.

On the other side of the argument is the question whether the women now playing would have had the opportunity to compete had not 25% participation been mandated.

So this week's question is:

Should wheelchair curling championships insist on mixed gender teams?

Choose the button on the right margin of this page which represents your view, and give your reasons in the comments below. And if you think that I have a bias in my presentation of the case, correct it in the comments.

Last week's poll, that did not attract many replies, had over 90% of responders saying they were out on the ice two or more times a week.


Wayne F said...

I do not believe that the wheelchair curling championships should have to be mixed gender, but in saying that I do not think they need to make it exclusively male or female. What I mean is that whatever area/region/province or country that you represent should be able to choose the 5 best curlers they have. 5 women, 5 men or a mix of both. Look at Canada this year. Jim gives a large part of the credit to the front end gals that dominated at the worlds this year. I personally do not believe that gender plays a big part in wheelchair curling and that there are a number of girls in ONT and BC that could skip a team today. Obviously, the higher the injury the more impairment, however, I dont see this as an issue with a T 10 complete or an amputee or a early syptom MS person who is just starting to feel the effects of this debilitating disability. Canada has done us proud with a 50/50 split in gender but suggest if they took the 4 or 5 best females in the country, they COULD, HELL THEY WOULD BE COMPETITIVE. As there just isnt enough females to promote same sex teams yet, the women we have should be able to play, but I do not think it should be a free ride because of gender. They should earn their spot like Sonja and Ina did with our country. I know from experience that I struggled getting a women to come out and curl in NW Ontario, but now, I have one of the most dedicated and enthusiastic females in the game. It has rubbed off on our equipment manager ( her husband) and we hope to promote a 2 person or 4 person stick curling league with our spouses just to get more people curling. So I say in solidarity with all wheelchair curlers


. said...

Many good points, Wayne, but just to reiterate - saying championships should not mandate mixed gender teams is not to say that the sport should only have same sex teams. Any combination of genders should be allowed on teams not qualifying for a WCF event.

Denise M said...

I agree with Wayne that a team should be comprised of the best wheelchair curlers in province or region. Unfortunately there are not enough female curlers out there but our numbers are growing. Its great to see a team with more than one female curling. I have become hooked on the game and would hate to not be able to go to a provincial or national event because of my gender. I am slowly learning to play more than lead and might even take a stab at skipping one of these days at a fun level!

Linda said...

I too agree with the mixed gender concept. In order to encourage new female curlers we need to seek out females that will be encouraged to join a team and get involved in the sport of curling. If we decide to change and allow teams to compete as teams .........without the gender issue. We may gain more teams but also discourage new women to join.

The USA team in 2008 had to quickly find a female replacement player so they could compete in the World Championships. They found Jackie and she trained hard everyday and 1 month to the day she started to curl won a Bronze medal for her country. If the gender issue is waved they would have easily picked up a male player and not bothered to find a female player.

The women can compete as well with the men and need to be encouraged. I do understand the frustrations when teams do not have a female in their area but just keep looking.

We have a fantastic sport and the mixed Wheelchair is something I like. More and more teams are bringing at least 2 women on their teams now. Scotland is an example of the women showing they can compete and even skip their squad to the medal round.

It can be compared to the Juniors some areas cannot find the junior curlers, but in this case you need to get the young curlers involved through a school program and the result will come once you get the kids to the club.

Thanks for reading my opinion