NewsOpinionInequity is not Self-Correcting

Avatar FasterSkierSeptember 11, 2019

We raise up all by promoting opportunities for gender equity in coaching.

With the proper perspective, competition has the power to raise up. A great coach provides and promotes opportunities for improvement and growth. At its best, sport uplifts.

Otherwise competition only separates a winner from the losers. Coaches only teach winning, and sport just sells cheap beer.

Cross-country ski racing has an extraordinary power to teach lessons beyond the sport. Ski races are a test of perseverance, resilience and the ability to prepare.  As such they are more than a shallow opportunity to beat others.  

Often cross-country ski coaches are more interested in the development of people than just winning a title, though those things can certainly go hand-in-hand. Skiing is a participation sport.  Fans are typically racers themselves. Parents are often volunteers. Racers become the next generation of coaches.

But even cross-country ski racing can evolve as a model of positive sport. We have an opportunity to lead. We have many incredible coaches across the country and the world and 99% of them are men.  This is an inequity born generations ago and it is time to change the imbalance not by degrees, but by storm.

Inequity is not self-correcting.  

The opposite is generally true.  Once an imbalance begins the weight continues to overwhelmingly load one side of the scale. There are power dynamics and prejudice at work, both subliminal and deliberate. Perhaps they were born before we were, but if they persist we own them as much as any previous generation. Correcting for inequality demands attention, education, and directed action.

Creating equality is proven to benefit everyone involved. But, this fact only supports the most important point: the goal of equality stands by itself.  We do need more women coaches, and we should have them in equal numbers because that is right. The job of sport done right is to raise up — to uplift not just half but all.

With 99% of our coaches being men, it falls primarily to our male coaches to lead and to work to enact this change.

Yes, many have done a lot. And certainly praise is due. Yet, here we are. When it comes to coaches we have a male dominated sport. That harms not just our female athletes and coaches but our male athletes and coaches as well. 

Study after study, from business economics, global economics, national well-being, to peace at the global and family scale, to scientific and social advancements, to sport itself, shows the benefits of a diverse workforce, one of equal representation of women being hired, paid and treated with equality*. 

So as male ski coaches what do we do?

Step one: visit https://www.womenskicoaches.org  to read about the mission and work of the Women’s Ski Coaches Association, WSCA.

Step two: Reach out to a current or former female athlete that has the interest or ability to be a great coach and recommend that they apply with the WSCA to attend the National Cross-Country Coaches Symposium at no cost. The WSCA has two entries to the National Cross Country-Coaches Symposium in Minneapolis, Sept. 27-29. Help your local woman coach jump start their career by supporting them in the logistics of the trip, cover their practices and figure out how to fund their transportation if you are lucky enough to be in a budget decision making position.

To apply or nominate a coach please email your request to womenskicoaches@gmail.comAttendees must have a US Ski & Snowboard  Coach membership and a WSCA Membership to be eligible.

This is our task. For all of our skiers, for all of our coaches, for all of us the mission of the WSCA must become our shared mission. Let’s all be part of this leadership initiative. 

*To educate yourself about the importance of this global mission begin by visiting these sites:

https://www.cehd.umn.edu/tuckercenter/library/docs/research/AD-Report-Best-Practices.pdf

https://www.canadianwomen.org/blog/5-ways-gender-equality-benefits-everyone/

https://www.cehd.umn.edu/tuckercenter/default.html

https://www.womenskicoaches.org

Former U.S. Ski Team Head Coach and current dad, husband, and photographer: Pete Vordenberg. You can find his work at Vordenberg.com
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