The Wimbledon Championships aren't very cool this year — first, because the weather is hot, but, second, because they're only allowing female players to take breaks during their matches if it's more than 86.1 degrees Fahrenheit (30.1 degrees Celsius), according to Newsweek. Men won't be allowed the 10-minute breaks that women will get, which is part of an old Wimbledon rule that hasn't been used since 2009. I mean, maybe the Wimbledon heat break rule is a little sexist, but they're only recognizing real differences here, people. These female tennis players, though badass, don't train as hard as the men do, and the men are certainly manly enough to withstand playing a tough match in the predicted 96-degree (36 degrees Celsius) weather. (I'm not serious at all.)
A spokesperson for Wimbledon organizers, the All-England Club, told the Express that the difference in rules for when men and women would be allowed breaks resulted because the men's and women's games have different governing bodies. The rule was introduced by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) in 1992, and applies to all WTA tournaments, according to Newsweek. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which governs the men's game, does not have a similar rule. What Wimbledon and the two associations don't realize is that this is bad for everyone — not just the men, who could suffer from heat exhaustion.
The ATP's lack of a rule allowing male players to take breaks in extreme heat is a serious health and safety concern, but it also perpetuates the sad idea that men must be superhuman — they can't feel a bit tired from the heat, and they shouldn't have to break for water like women, whose bodies and strengths of will are not as powerful. *Beats on chest*
Britain's Andy Murray criticized the rules last year after temperatures of 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) at the Australian Open caused a ball boy to collapse and a player to vomit, according to Newsweek:
I don't know why there are different rules. If there's a medical reason for it, then I'm fine with it, if there isn't, I'm not.
There isn't any research showing that women might be more prone to heat exhaustion or dehydration than men, so there's no way the difference in rules is based in medical science.
In a separate incident at this year's Wimbledon, Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard was asked by a male TV presenter last week to "give us a twirl," according to ABC News. Bouchard twirled and later said the request was unexpected, and that "an old guy asking you to twirl" is funny. She said she is fine with being asked to twirl if "they ask the guys to flex." Though this lighthearted response is funny and kind, it misses the bigger issue, which is the same problem at the heart of the heat break rule discrepancies.
Asking women to twirl and men to flex still fulfills a "Me Tarzan, You Jane," stereotype for women and men. Women, when asked to twirl and when given breaks from the heat, are being treated as though they are delicate and fragile instead of being treated as athletes who work their butts off and also don't want to die in the heat. The TV presenter asking Bouchard to twirl treated her as though she was a form of entertainment in a skirt rather than a tennis professional.
When men aren't given heat breaks and are asked to flex, they — as a population — are being held to an unrealistic, unhealthy standard that poises them as the ultimate, superhuman athletes. In reality, both the men and women have some superhuman qualities, but they aren't superhuman. They're all super cool, athletic people, whose health and well being should matter equally.
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