These days, it has become increasingly common for athletes to use their platforms and their notoriety and to engage in protests or bring attention to certain issues. This has become a part of not only major sports like football or soccer but have also sports that generally have fewer eyes on them as well.
Recently, there was just such a little brouhaha surrounding the Women’s European Beach Handball Championships. Though the championships have now come and gone, the Norwegian women’s team attracted a bit of controversy for one of their decisions, and the story of just what happened turns out to be quite an interesting one.
Even multiplatinum singer-songwriter Pink got involved.
Sexist Double Standards?
The whole story revolves around the fact that the Women’s European Beach Handball Championships have certain uniform requirements. In short, the players are required to be rather scantily clad, wearing very small bikini bottoms while playing out on the beach.
Some regard this as not only uncomfortable for the athletes — since it increases the chances that sand will get into some rather uncomfortable areas — but as sexist. Critics say that male beach handball teams are not under any kind of similar requirement and that therefore the dress code sexually objectifies the players.
Therefore, the Norwegian team decided to do something about it. In protest, the team chose to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms to their games. For breaking the uniform code, the team was fined 1,500 euros, or about $1,766.
As you can imagine, this only incensed people further.
In response, many began to rally around the Norwegian women’s team.
And how does Pink fit into the picture? Well, she was perhaps the team’s most high-profile supporter throughout the controversy and even offered to step in and pay the team’s fine herself. Pink took to Twitter and said, “I’m VERY proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team FOR PROTESTING THE VERY SEXIST RULES ABOUT THEIR ‘uniform.’ The European handball federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM.”
As it happened, the team had already paid the fine, but they were very grateful for the supportive gesture.
The European Handball Federation, for its part, has attracted some bad press over this incident and decided to try and diffuse things by donating the money collected from the fine to an organization “which supports equality for women and girls in sports.” The EHF also pointed out that it was the Norwegian Handball Federation that was fined, not the athletes themselves.