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Old 2019-05-01, 18:27   #1
Brian-E
 
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Default Women's sport: how to sort out who should qualify?

Today's judgment upholding the International Association of Athletics Federations' requirement that the South African athlete Caster Semenya will have to take drugs to reduce her testosterone levels in order to compete in women's events is sending shockwaves through the sporting world. The decision is controversial to say the least. The subject is an area where there is no easy answer as far as I can see.

On the one hand we have the perverse necessity of this female athlete having to arbitrarily take drugs, unnecessary for her health, just to be allowed to compete against other women. This in an era when athletics in general is geared towards avoiding letting its participants take any sort of performance-affecting drugs which are not required for their health!

On the other hand, the requirement for testosterone levels in women's sport is there for the good reason that transgender women (Caster Semenya is not transgender) should be enabled to compete with other women without any perceived unfair advantage due to naturally high testosterone: trans women are therefore routinely required to reduce their testosterone (and there are other requirements too). If transgender women have to do that, why not Semenya as well?

What about non-physical sports? In chess, for example, women also sometimes have their own events, notably the Women's World Chess Championship. I have made some enquiries among chess players and have been told that FIDE, the chess governing body, does not appear to have addressed this issue at all yet. I would think it is only a matter of time before there is an entrant in the Women's World Championship for whom their gender is called into question. What should qualify someone to compete in a women's event in mind sports like chess?
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Old 2019-05-01, 19:19   #2
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Today's judgment upholding the International Association of Athletics Federations' requirement that the South African athlete Caster Semenya...

What about non-physical sports? In chess, for example, women also sometimes have their own events, notably the Women's World Chess Championship. I have made some enquiries among chess players and have been told that FIDE, the chess governing body, does not appear to have addressed this issue at all yet. I would think it is only a matter of time before there is an entrant in the Women's World Championship for whom their gender is called into question. What should qualify someone to compete in a women's event in mind sports like chess?
I have been told (I am not 100% vouching it to be true) that women spatial abilities are ordinarily less developed tat men. See for instance THIS

(I believe that one of the skills of playing good chess -among others- is the ability to visualize the board in 2 dimentions, in 3 dimensions and even –dare I say it– in 4 dimensions). If that were the case then it would make sense to have a separate category for women chess players.

I say this –being a male– without any hint of patronizing toward women players, as I am convinced any world ranked women chess player would clean my clock in a game with one hand tied behind her back.

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Old 2019-05-01, 19:37   #3
retina
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Instead of the binary male/female, there could be a spectrum.

From low <measurement value> to high <measurement value> and then divide it into classes of suitable size, or if desired simply a single cut-off value for just two classes. That way anyone male/female/whatever can simply enter the class they qualify for based ideally upon an objective measurement. You can also allow for people to "play up" to any higher class, but not down.

The <measurement value> could be testosterone for physical sports. Maybe some other measure for spatial mind sports. And yet another measure for memory based mind sports.

Chess has mixed competitions based upon rating, which is computed from past performance. But so far no woman has shown any ability to win at the highest level. Why is that?

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Old 2019-05-02, 02:43   #4
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Instead of the binary male/female, there could be a spectrum.
True! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aneuploidy#Types
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Old 2019-05-02, 08:26   #5
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If we're not careful, we'll end up with gerrymandering in sport(s)!
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Old 2019-05-02, 12:09   #6
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The "classes" idea is already in use in martial events like boxing and wrestling, which divides competition into weight classes. The rationale is pretty obvious -- "a good big 'un will beat a good little 'un." A heavyweight versus a bantamweight just isn't a fair fight.

A "testosterone level" or some other classification related to musculature would seem to make a lot more sense than handicapping competitors by compelling them to take performance-inhibiting drugs in order to "level the playing field." Shades of Harrison Bergeron!
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Old 2019-05-03, 15:09   #7
Brian-E
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
[...]
Chess has mixed competitions based upon rating, which is computed from past performance. But so far no woman has shown any ability to win at the highest level. Why is that?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rudy235 View Post
I have been told (I am not 100% vouching it to be true) that women spatial abilities are ordinarily less developed tat men. See for instance THIS

(I believe that one of the skills of playing good chess -among others- is the ability to visualize the board in 2 dimentions, in 3 dimensions and even –dare I say it– in 4 dimensions). If that were the case then it would make sense to have a separate category for women chess players.

I say this –being a male– without any hint of patronizing toward women players, as I am convinced any world ranked women chess player would clean my clock in a game with one hand tied behind her back.
This is a long-running debate in the chess world. Judit Polgar is arguably unique in being a woman who made it to the top echelons of the game before recently retiring: she was inside the top ten players of the world at the height of her career. But she was clearly the "exception which proves the rule".

Differences in male and female brains probably do play a role. But another factor, which may be underestimated, is the general lack of encouragement given to girls who show any interest in chess. Parents, teachers and peers all treat girls differently from boys, and if a girl wants to take up chess she will usually be on her own when it comes to being encouraged. László Polgár was very unusual in bringing up his three daughters (Judit's two sisters are very strong chessplayers too, especially the oldest sister) to be fanatical about chess.

---

Another mostly-non-physical sport where men dominate is snooker (and pool and billiards). The snooker world championship is nearing its final stages right now. When was the last time we saw a woman in the televised sections? Allison Fisher is the only woman I know of who has played men on equal terms at the top of the game, and that was mainly back in the 1980s. Why is snooker so male-dominated?
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Old 2019-05-03, 20:33   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Another mostly-non-physical sport where men dominate is snooker (and pool and billiards). The snooker world championship is nearing its final stages right now. When was the last time we saw a woman in the televised sections? Allison Fisher is the only woman I know of who has played men on equal terms at the top of the game, and that was mainly back in the 1980s. Why is snooker so male-dominated?
Perhaps the competitive drive testosterone fuels in men applies in more-mental activities, as well. Evolution seems to have (dis)favored the male of species with a propensity towards obsessive single-minded focus on a chosen task, and a "testosterone rush" from besting others in competitive examples of such. This produces both some outstanding skilled persons at task X, but also a lot of dysfunction resulting from the same single-mindedness and hypercompetitiveness. So perhaps the same selection which allowed small groups of stone-age hunters to become so adept with flint-tipped spears as to be able to bring down a Mastodon, today leads to fistfights over Scrabble words and cheesboards getting flung into the air or at one's opponent's head.

Speaking of testosterone rush, ESPN2 replayed Pacquiao/Marquez IV last night - wow!

And speaking of freaks of nature, this kid will be of Olympic-competition age in a few years, though I've seen no recent articles indicating whether his physical development has continued without severe adverse health effects:

Genetic mutation turns tot into superboy - Health - Genetics | NBC News

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2019-05-03 at 20:45
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Old 2019-05-15, 13:13   #9
Brian-E
 
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A little bit of history now...

Courtesy of Kingpin Chess Magazine quoting "Chess" magazine of January 1974 we are reminded that Bloemfontein in South Africa was progressive enough more than 45 years ago to hold that country's first "Ladies Tournament" for the good of chess.

Quote:
Ray Keene won the Premier at Bloemfontein [...] The total prize list 1125 rand, as he pointed out, was more than for the British Championship.

Barbara Hooker took first place in the first Ladies Tournament held in South Africa; earned a Singer sewing machine.
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Old 2019-05-20, 04:31   #10
LaurV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
A little bit of history now...

Courtesy of Kingpin Chess Magazine quoting "Chess" magazine of January 1974 we are reminded that Bloemfontein in South Africa was progressive enough more than 45 years ago to hold that country's first "Ladies Tournament" for the good of chess.

Ha, this is good for agadmator's chess channel (which I eagerly follow since some years). Maybe you can drop him a hint, he will, for sure, made a nice video of it.
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Old 2019-05-21, 14:07   #11
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Vibrator prize for Spanish squash champion spurs sexism debate

Press article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48348431
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