Gravitas: Norwegian beach handball team smashes sexism


WION 21 July, 2021 - 01:14pm 8 views

Is beach handball an Olympic sport?

"Female athletes must wear bikini bottoms ... with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg," the rules state. "The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters." Beach handball is a relatively new sport. In the Olympics sphere, it's included only in the Youth Olympic Games. NPRA Women's Beach Handball Team Is Fined For Not Wanting To Wear Bikini Bottoms

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This Norwegian beach handball bikini debacle is absurdly archaic

MSNBC 21 July, 2021 - 08:02pm

This week, the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined 1,500 euro (about $1,765) by the European Handball Federation. Their transgression? Wearing spandex shorts instead of bikini bottoms during the team’s bronze medal match at the European Beach Handball Championships.

International Handball Federation regulations stipulate that female athletes must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg,” and “the side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimeters,” or about 4 inches. However, their male counterparts are allowed to wear shorts, as long as they clear 10 centimeters above the kneecap.

The Norwegian players knew that they would be flouting International Handball Federation guidelines, but chose to move forward with the uniform change anyway, as a form of public protest against archaic rules that prioritize hypersexualization over the comfort of the athletes. The Norwegian Handball Federation supported the players and agreed to pay the fines on their behalf.

Team captain Katinka Haltvik told Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK that she and her teammates had made a “spontaneous” decision to switch out their black bikini bottoms for blue bike-style shorts to spur conversation, and hopefully, rule changes.

The Norwegian players knew that they would be flouting International Handball Federation guidelines, but chose to move forward with the uniform change anyway.

“I hope we get a breakthrough for this and that next summer we play in what we want,” she told NRK. "People cheered on us for going in front of several teams and taking the brunt. Not all teams can afford to pay such fines.” She also added that beach handball "should be an inclusive sport, not an exclusive one.”

Beach handball isn’t the first professional sport to attract controversy due to skimpy uniform requirements. Until 2012, female Olympic beach volleyball players were required to wear bikinis (although you could wear a bodysuit underneath). For the last decade, the teams have had a choice. The change was made to increase both individual comfort and collective cultural inclusivity. (For example, at the 2016 Olympics, the Egyptian team competed in pants and long sleeves.)

Obviously, there is nothing inherently harmful about a bikini, in sports or otherwise. And as beach volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings told HuffPost in 2016, “When it comes to beach volleyball, we’re playing in 100-degree-plus weather.” However, when required athletic uniforms are dictated by gender norms rather than the needs of the athletic activity, therein lies the problem — and the deeply embedded sexism.

To pretend that the way athletes are costumed has no bearing on the way they are perceived would be naïve. There is a reason that Olympic beach volleyball players are often photographed in parts rather than as whole humans: close-ups of butts and torsos and chests rather than as living, breathing, moving marvels. To force female athletes to wear outfits they feel fundamentally limited by or uncomfortable in only serves to perpetuate the idea that they exist, first and foremost, to be consumed. The men can play. The women are putting on a show.

There is a tendency to put a premium on pre-existing rules simply because they exist, a veneer of legitimacy that is lent to norms and regulations within the sports arena, even when those norms and regulations were instituted within a specific, often harmful cultural context. This is why the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics has spurred difficult but important conversations about things like the racism built into marijuana-specific drug policies or the refusal of FINA (swimming’s main international regulatory body) to approve a swim cap designed specifically for natural hair.

No law, regulation or rule is infallible. Guidelines are made to be updated, to evolve with the times and to correct past harms. Ostensibly, in sports, rules exist to make sure that there is as much parity among competitors as possible, to ensure that the terms of the game are known before it starts. The width of a bikini band has no bearing on these terms.

At the end of the day, the focus should be on the physical abilities of beach handball players, not the number of centimeters the seams of their uniforms are from their vulvas. If the athletes who play beach handball are demanding change, ignoring them sends the message that the ability of the public to leer at female bodies is more important than the sport itself.

Norway beach handball team members slam bikini rule: 'No good reason' for it

Fox News 21 July, 2021 - 08:02pm

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Norway beach handball team members slammed the sport’s governing body on Wednesday after receiving fines for their decision to wear shorts instead of the required bikini bottoms.

The European Handball Federation fined the team $1,770 – about $177 per player – for choosing to wear shorts in their bronze medal match against Spain. The organization said the players broke the uniform requirements set forth by the International Handball Federation (IHF).

"For our federation, there has been a lot of support," Tonya Lurstaad said. "Every other federation as well - except the ones making the rules - have supported us. We're so thankful for the support."

She added: "We've just been told that this is the rule."

Julia Bird said the team has gotten support from the men’s side in the row.

"People have been quite shocked that women today in 2021 can't choose what they want to wear. It's been overwhelming actually," she added.

Lurstaad said there’s really no reason why they couldn’t compete in a T-shirt and shorts.

"If the guys can do it in a T-shirt and shorts, we should be able to do it in the same exact outfit."

The IHF rules require women to wear bikini bottoms in competition.

"The Disciplinary Commission at the Beach Handball EURO 2021 has dealt with a case of improper clothing," the governing body said. "In the bronze medal game against Spain on Sunday the team of Norway played with shorts that are not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF Beach Handball Rules of the Game,"

Norway’s Handball Federation agreed to pay the fines levied on the players and expressed support for them.

"We are very proud of these girls who are at the European Championships in beach handball. They raised their voice and told us that enough is enough," the organization said.

"We are the Norwegian Handball Federation and we stand behind you and support you. We will continue to fight to change the international regulations for attire, so that players can play in the clothing they are comfortable with."

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Sunrise Extra: Double standard at the Olympics?

KGW News 21 July, 2021 - 08:02pm

Norway women’s handball team fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms 21 July, 2021 - 07:42pm

(NEXSTAR) – The European Handball Federation announced Monday that it was fining the Norwegian women’s team for wearing spandex shorts instead of the mandated bikini bottoms.

The federation said the “case of improper clothing” during the European Handball Championship bronze medal game Sunday against Spain resulted in a 150 euro fine per player, or about $176, with a total fine of 1,500 euros.

Clothing guidelines from the International Handball Federation state that, while male players can wear shorts that extend to “10 centimetres above the kneecap,” female athletes “must wear bikini bottoms that are in accordance with the enclosed graph, with a closed fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg,” adding that the maximum side width is 10 centimeters.

For anyone curious, this is a group shot of both beach handball teams from Norway.

The Norway Handball Federation backed the team’s decision to wear the thigh-length shorts, saying in a statement “together we will continue to fight to change the rules for clothing, so that players can play in the clothes they are comfortable with!”

The Norwegian team had petitioned to play in shorts before the European Championship games, according to Norway’s NRK News, but ended up starting the tournament in bikini bottoms after they were threatened with possible disqualification.

Then on Sunday, before their last match, the team decided to go through with the protest.

“It was very spontaneous,” player Katinka Haltvik told NRK. “We thought that ‘now we just do it, then we will see what happens.'”

Women’s beach volleyball, another international sport in which players often wear bikini bottoms, no longer has a dress code requirement after a rule change in 2012.

The handball guidelines drew criticism from Norwegian officials after Monday’s announcement.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” Abid Raja, Norway’s minister for culture and sports, stated on Twitter. “What a change of attitude is needed in the macho and conservative international world of sport.”

Norwegian politician Lene Westgaard-Halle called the fines “embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist.”

News of the fines comes after a Welsh Paralympic world champion, Olivia Breen, said officials at Sunday’s English Championships told her that her sprint briefs were “too short and inappropriate.”

Breen tweeted Sunday, saying the incident left her “speechless.”

“I have been wearing the same style sprint briefs for many years and they are specifically designed for competing in,” Breen wrote, in part. “I will hopefully be wearing them in Tokyo. It made me question whether a male competitor would be similarly (sic)criticised.”

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TOKYO, Japan (KSEE) — As the Summer Olympics are set to begin, many say Tokyo 2020 will forever be associated with COVID-19.

Before athletes, broadcasters and sponsors could even arrive in Japan, they needed to provide two negative COVID-19 tests to enter the country.

Osvaldo Robledo, 38, initially was expected to survive the wound, which he suffered at a home in the 1100 block of Bellena Avenue in Chula Vista about 10:15 p.m. July 8.

On Wednesday, she stood on a pedestrian bridge at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and looked south toward the city of Tijuana wondering if her son is out there somewhere.

It's about sports, not sex appeal

Newsday 21 July, 2021 - 07:18pm

With opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics coming Friday, there is progress to celebrate on the road to equal standing for women in elite-level sports.

In 1900, the first year women participated in the Olympics, 2.2% of competitors were females. This year 48.8% of competitors are, up from 45% in 2016.

And women’s events and their stars, in both the Olympics and other competitions, are getting more attention than ever. More coverage attracts new fans, and they’re staying interested, because the competitions are fantastic: intense, balletic, athletic and ferocious.

But there are still startling inequities, particularly when it comes to sexualization, and uniforms, between women's and men's sports. Uniform disputes continue to bring gender, racial and religious bias into play.

It's a losing game that must end.

The Norway women’s beach handball team is receiving unprecedented attention after it was fined by the European Handball Federation Monday. Their offense? Players refused to wear the required bikini bottoms and instead wore longish shorts, like the members of the male beach handball team. Each woman player was fined 150 euros (about $175).

Beach handball is not an Olympic event, though it is featured at the Youth Olympic Games, but the controversy is renewing complaints about the rules in Olympic sports, like tennis, track and field, and beach volleyball, where the uniform requirements do differ by gender, and do sexualize women.

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In beach volleyball, for instance, the men wear shirts and unrevealing shorts, while the women must don either bikini briefs with midriff-baring shirts or one-piece suits cut high on the leg, with an open back and mostly exposed chest.

Such sexualization can be startlingly open. In 2011, for instance, the Badminton World Federation said in order to foster a more "attractive presentation," women were required to wear skirts or dresses specifically to revive flagging fan interest in the sport.

And competitors who are willing to wear skimpy attire can be attacked for that too. Olivia Breen, an elite paralympian long jumper and sprinter for Britain, was recently confronted by an official who said her bottoms, nearly identical to the ones the female beach handballers must wear, were too skimpy.

Then there is the swim-cap controversy. With the Olympics nearly upon us, FINA, which oversees swimming internationally, has not ruled finally on whether Black British swimmer Alice Dearing can wear a "Soul Cap" that properly covers her thick hair after initially banning it because it "does not match the natural shape of the head."

Forcing female competitors to dress immodestly repels many girls, particularly if they come from modest religions or cultures. It also repulses women, and men, who believe female competition ought to highlight athletics, not breasts and buttocks.

Shaming women who do want to compete in briefs is no better. Nor are racist and xenophobic bans on headgear.

All athletes must be allowed to compete in clothing that allows them to be physically and emotionally comfortable.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

Pic Shows Difference Between Men's, Women's Beach Handball Uniforms? 21 July, 2021 - 04:45pm

The rules of the sport require women to wear “bikini bottoms” with a “close fit” along with a “midriff design” top, while their male counterparts are permitted to wear sleeveless tank tops and shorts, as illustrated in the diagrams below, which are taken from the International Handball Federation’s official rules of beach handball:

Rejecting those double standards, the Norwegian women refused to wear bikini bottoms during their European Championships game against Spain on July 18, and in response, the European Handball Federation fined them €150 ($177) each. 

As part of a wave of outrage against the uniform requirements, and the punishment imposed, a popular post on the online forum Reddit purported to neatly and starkly illustrate the disparities involved in the male and female beach handball uniform regulations.

Underneath a caption that read “Mens beach-handball teams uniform vs. the women’s uniform,” a photograph showed what appeared to be a men’s beach handball team, wearing tank tops and shorts, kneeling and standing next to their female counterparts, who are wearing bikini bottoms and “midriff” tops:

That photograph was genuine, and showed Norway’s men’s and women’s beach handball teams, respectively, before their games against their Swedish counterparts, in June 2019. As such, we are issuing a rating of “True.”

The picture was taken by the photographer Niclas Dovsjö on June 7, 2019, in Ulricehamn, Sweden. It was posted online and on Facebook by the Norwegian Handball Federation, and can be seen in its original context, below:

Norway’s men lost their encounter with Sweden, while their female compatriots won. At the time, the picture prompted an outraged response in Norway, illustrating as it did the glaring discrepancy in uniform requirements between male and female athletes. 

In response to expressions of criticism at the rules, and the treatment of the Norwegian women’s team, European Handball Federation [EHF] President Michael Wiederer insisted that “the EHF will do all it can to ensure that a change of athlete uniform regulations can be implemented,” but said such a rules change “could not happen overnight.”

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Shorts Or Bikinis? When Women's Clothes Become More Important Than The Game

SheThePeople 21 July, 2021 - 03:30pm

With their playing comfort in mind, the Norwegian players opted for the latter against bikinis, which are the ordered athlete uniform sportswomen are expected to stick to in beach handball.

Which raises a laughable question: Bikinis or briefs, how does it matter? 

How much relevance do dated diktats hold today? If prizing comfort over regulation without hampering the usual functions of the game is an option, then wouldn’t athletes exhibit better skill if they made that choice? Also to think about is how much of the regulation exactly can be contextualised within the history of sexualisation of women’s bodies in sport?

Any arguments of increased agility or swift movement offered by bikini bottoms that shorts allegedly cannot provide are a dud. Primarily, because men’s handball teams are allowed shorts in the game. Must they then be shifted to bikini bottoms too, for all the wholesome benefit the outfit supposedly offers?

If anything, bikini bottoms – with their flimsy, unfixed design – have more potential for discomfort and impracticality than shorts ever will.

For anyone curious, this is a group shot of both beach handball teams from Norway.

— Ina Aletheia (@inaaletheia) July 18, 2021

The redundant worth of the dress code was made amply clear by Norway’s Handball Federation (NHF), which had said in advance they were ready to pay whatever fine the EHF would impose on their players for choosing shorts over bikinis. “We are very proud of these girls who during the European Championships raised their voices and announced that enough is enough!” the NHF has declared.

And now, they are even pushing for solid reform that will change the way women athletes’ uniforms figure in sport. A motion put forward by Norway about impractical dress codes for sportswomen will reportedly be deliberated over at the International Handball Federation level.

Across sports – tennis, swimming, surfing, racing – women’s bodies are objectified, taking precedence above all else, including their skill in the game. They are considered first women, then sportswomen – and that order dictates the way audiences (especially male) perceive them. A burden, to excel at their sport, but more to look sexy while doing it.

The adamant decision by the Norway women’s handball team to put their foot down firm on the sexist traditions in sport is a booming statement that says – no more. Enough.

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