By Maggie Macintosh
I’ve never been bullied for being a competitive female athlete.
Instead, my classmates and closest friends have taken aim at my sport.
“Curling’s not a real sport.” “Do you even break a sweat?” “And, why do you play in ugly men’s dress shoes?”
Their comments make me feel like I’m a loser—even when I win—because I curl.
And I don’t blame them. I blame my parents for dragging me and my little sister to Sunday morning curling practices for years. They’re the ones who forced me onto the ice until I actually wanted to go throw rocks after school, on weekends, all the time.
Curling is a peculiar sport. Recent Olympics have drawn attention to it—and with that, new fans. But I doubt I’ll ever proudly identify as a curler in my lifetime.
The only thing outsiders think is cool about the sport is the ice temperature, so it’s no surprise that curlers are often isolated from discussions about high-performance athletics.
You probably didn’t know both of Ryerson’s curling teams qualified for U SPORTS within three years of the program’s existence. Or that we were promised varsity status, but never got it.
We’re a close-knit community. Men’s and women’s teams look out for one another. We often play on mixed teams together. And if we’re not on the same team, we cheer each other on behind the glass. I even cried of happiness when the Ryerson men’s team qualified for nationals last year.
All curlers are equal. That’s just how things are. No matter your gender, you were bullied if you grew up curling in Southern Ontario. At least, that’s what I thought until earlier this month when it was revealed top female curlers have approached Curling Canada with concerns about pay equality.
The top men’s team in Canada wins more than double the prize money than the top women’s team at their respective national championships. Kevin Koe’s Alberta team won $70,000 for winning the Canadian men’s championship. Meanwhile, Chelsea Carey’s Alberta team earned only $32,000 at the Canadian women’s championship.
Are you kidding me? You’re telling me I’ve been made fun of my whole life for curling and have trained with coaches and sports psychologists for countless hours working towards a Scotties title that is worth half of what the guys make?
I shouldn’t be surprised. This is all too common for female athletes.
This month alone, both female curlers and soccer players have made headlines for speaking out about their discriminatory paycheques. And the problem extends far beyond prize money. The U.S. women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the country’s soccer federation that alleges discrimination plays into everything. From the fields they are scheduled to play at to the medical treatment they receive, the players argue they’re disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts simply because they’re women.
There’s always talk about ticket sales and viewership differences between men and women’s teams, but not about blatant sexism.
That’s why The Eye has put together an issue about women in sports. In this issue, women-identifying athletes address tomboyism, coaching, the evolution of women’s sports and the numbers gap are some of the things that they touch on.
As a skip, I call the shots: “SWEEP, HARD!” Now I’m joining our country’s top female curlers, and all female athletes, to call for pay equality in our respective sports.