Both Ladies’ And Women’s Sports At The Winter Olympics?

Thanks, Deb from Massachusetts. Okay, before you say what’s the big deal, get
this: words matter. And those two words don’t mean exactly the same thing. How do you define the word woman? Woman? Strong. Loving. How many words I am allowed to use? My mother. And the opposite of a man. How do you define ‘lady’? Ew! Lady means an old-fashioned word for a woman that used to be polite but then became demeaning. A way that you behave as a woman. So how did the Olympics
decide when to use women’s and when to use ladies? I have a theory. If you look at a sport’s official name and the year that women’s started competing in the
Olympics there’s no real pattern but when you link the sport back to its
governing Federation things start to make sense. If a governing body added
women to their roster in the early part of the century the names tend toward
ladies. And if a federation has a ladies event on its roster it tends to use that
word for all the sports it governs. For example, alpine skiers of both genders
have competed in the games since 1936 so if you’re a female alpine skier you’re a
lady. Big air snowboarding is the Winter Olympics newest sport — added just this
year, But like alpine skiing it’s under the umbrella of the FIS and according to
the FIS if you’re a female big air snowboarder you’re a lady. Governing bodies that started adding female athletes sometime after 1964 or
so like to use the word ‘women’s.’ Bobsled, curling, ice hockey, skeleton — the Olympics
didn’t have categories for female athletes in these sports until the late
1990s early 2000s and they’re all ‘women.’ And that’s the way it should be, right? I mean it would be ridiculous for announcers to
call a ladies ice hockey game wouldn’t it? It sounds humorous to talk about something like ladies hockey. They’re
competing hard and they’re being fierce and they’re — they’re playing hockey like
anyone plays hockey and it’s a exciting game to watch and so calling it ladies
hockey of course doesn’t seem to make sense in that kind of context. But you
know what I wouldn’t be surprised if sometimes someone on a team walks into
the locker room and says to her teammates: And if they’re doing that then they’re using yet another connotation of the word — …that they wield
themselves. Those are interesting cases to think about too. This year in Pyeongchang NBC announcers have been sticking to women regardless of a sports
official title:women’s ski jumping, women’s Alpine Skiing, women’s luge.
I asked NBC why they decided to break with Olympic tradition, and they said: But there’s one exception to this rule. One category of Olympic athletes are still called ladies.
Tara Lipinski a gold medalist in ladies figure skating has come out in favor of
a change but other figure skaters, including one I talked to, said they
don’t mind being called a lady. And I figure, if you can launch yourself up in
the air, spin around three and a half times, and land on one edge of one foot —
and you want to be called lady? Who am I to disagree?

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