The Norwegian Women’s Beach Handball team (and btw, what the hell is beach handball) was fined $1,700 for choosing to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms to the Euro 2021 competition. The team noted that the shorts were easier to play in, and I am reliably informed by an actual woman and not a “menstruating person” that during a woman’s period, bikini bottoms can be problematic at best, and disastrous at worst.
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Although the sanction was played down, the message is clear, whether the league officials approve it or not: People are expected to tune in to competitions to see scantily clad women, not athletes. Apparently, there is money to be made by blurring the line between sports fan and hormone-stricken teen. Or dirty old man.
On the flip side, track and field Paralympian Olivia Breen was told at the English Championship that her shorts were too short. And as if that were not enough, another Paralympian, Becca Meyers, has withdrawn from the Tokyo games. Meyers is a swimmer and is blind and deaf. She was told she could not bring her caregiver with her. Did I mention that her caregiver is her mother? Never mind Becca Meyers’ needs or her dignity. Let’s get that blind and deaf girl in front of the cameras.
So, the Norwegians are sanctioned for not showing enough skin—because, you know, sex and ratings and stuff. The Paralympians are sanctioned for being people and not merely disabled and checking the right box for the IOC, sponsors, and broadcasters. They have no value as athletes or as people. Once again, human beings are made into products.
Update: This article was updated to note that the women’s handball team was fined during the Euro 2021 competition, not the Olympics. We apologize for the error.