The only woman on Afghanistan's Olympic team is a runner, reports National Geographic. She does the 1500 meters in 4:50, which is great, but probably not good enough (3:50 is the record). Still! Afghanistan has never won an Olympic medal, and the country was banned from the Sydney games due to Taliban rule. Mahboba Ahdyar (pictured), 19, is Muslim, so she trains in a headscarf and loose-fitting track suit. If officials try to make her compete in something different, she says she just won't run. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, where girls as young as 12 are often forced to drop out of school and get married for economic reasons, running is a way to keep hope alive."Girls who run tend to stay in school longer and, if they train hard enough, might make a good living one day as a pro athlete," reports the Washington Post. But over at a blog called WIMN (Women in Media and News), there's a post about the coverage of women's sports in the Chicago Tribune. That is, the lack of.
An editor from the Tribune explains: "I don't believe that, in the reality of limited and ever-shrinking resources, it's the right thing for us to simply say, "everything's the same and gets exactly the same treatment." We just can't do that. I believe we cover all sports as the news dictates - in fan interest, in accomplishment (an outstanding team that dominates, for example) and in uniqueness... But we're not in the promotion business." Still, it's true that when high schools, colleges and professional sports teams get covered, it's more often than not the men's team being covered.
As a non-sporting person, I took a moment to think of all the female sports figures I know as compared to the male sports stars. As a kid, I took gymnastics, but it seemed obvious — even from the Olympic athletes I saw on TV — that it was not a sport for adults. It was something to be left behind as you aged. Meanwhile, my brother, who was into baseball, could actually look up to Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez — have their posters on his wall and dream of that future. Considering that under Taliban rule, women could not play outdoors and sports were out of the question, it's amazing that Mahboba is headed to the Olympic games, even if she doesn't really stand a chance of getting a medal. But we live in a world where a man who plays basketball can land the cover of Vogue while female teams don't get equal newspaper coverage. For all the soccer players, softball players, runners, basketball players and other sporty ladies out there, I have to ask: Does being a female athlete mean taking an extra leap of faith?