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Statements in sport

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

As sports return to the world in 2021 many stars are using their platform to send a message.


Australian Swimmer Maddie Groves has just pulled out of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics based on a toxic misogynistic culture of fat shaming and exploitation. Following her very public announcement Swimming Australia is set to meet to discuss the alarming allegations raised. The statement has also been backed by reports on the topic compiled by former Commonwealth Games gold medalist/current senior academic Jenny McMahon.


As if female surfers weren't already cool enough, earlier this year Australian surfer Lucy Small called out the gender divide in the surfing community in a particularly rebellious way. As she accepted her first place prize at a Sydney competition Lucy highlighted the uneven prize money she received $1500 compared to the $4000 prize the guys did: "I would say that it is a bittersweet victory knowing that our surfing is worth half of the men’s prize money”. Generally the argument for men getting paid more is that they play longer [Tennis 5 sets vs 3] or the viewership and subsequent advertising dollars are larger [NBA/AFL etc] but surfings currency is selling clothes [Swimwear/Surf casual] & women sell as many clothes as men so the argument in this case is weaker than ever.


Having made a huge splash last year with her face masks that named victims of race-based police brutality during the US open Naomi Osaka has recently made headlines for a different reason. Naomi refused to attend a press conference post-match at the French Open recently due to mental health reasons. When she received huge backlash including a large fine from the organisers the world #2 eventually pulled out of the tournament completely. This has sparked a major debate around the way the sporting industry should be allowed to treat mental health.

As this article discusses, this event has highlighted how mental health should be likened to any other form of healthcare:"People who live with depression are obviously more than capable of holding down jobs – whether it’s as tennis players, or journalists, or leading their countries to victory in the second world war. The conditions required to excel at these pursuits is the same with managing any injury; the empowerment to evaluate your own personal capacity and maintain your systems of care."

In an interesting brand move meditation and sleep app Calm both offered to pay the £10,600 fine and match the sum in the form of a donation to Laureus Sport, an organization dedicated to improving the mental health of young people through sport.


Australian legend Adam Goodes is back in the press having turned down the induction to the AFL hall of fame last week. In case you were born yesterday Goodes of course left the code after receiving racial abuse that was never fully acknowledged as racist by the people who needed to do so to properly condemn the abhorrent behaviour. While it is of course a somewhat different fight the parallels between how athletes in the US are now continuing to make a stand around racism will hopefully trickle down to Australian sports as well.


Lewis Hamilton wore a t-shirt that said "George Floyd say his name" at the Monaco Grand Prix recently. The event took place just shy of the one year anniversary of the tragedy that has made a lasting impact around the world. Hamilton has also been vocal about other issues, also recently speaking out about the human rights abuses occurring in the countries that they race in (in this case Bahrain) “There are issues all around the world but I do not think we should be going to these countries and just ignoring what is happening in those places, arriving, having a great time and then leaving”.

Zara Cooper


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