Dr. Sarah K. Fields talks about gender and sexuality in the sports scene

Author Sarah K.Fields covered topics from the early gender equality movement and lawsuits for female in sports, to her understanding about the relationship between athlete and celebrity. (Junbo Huang/The Daily Campus)

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Sarah K. Fields spoke as a guest speaker at the ongoing speaker series “Beyond the Field: Social Issues in Sports” in the Barnes & Nobles Bookstore. Sophia Reed and Charlie McAulay introduced her to the crowd of around 30 students and faculty members.

Dr. Fields, the associate professor and acting associate dean for the University of Colorado-Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, spoke about the different dimensions that are involved in sports when it comes to gender, sexuality and race. She hit topics such as co-ed teams, transgender athletes and even the role of cannabis in sports. While speaking about these prevalent issues, students and faculty alike had questions for Dr. Fields.

While talking about her book “Female Gladiators,” she touched on the subject of co-ed soccer teams. A member of the audience asked why professional co-ed soccer teams are not very common. Dr. Fields answered this by saying, “We keep men and women separate for social reasons. By segregating men and women, women never beat men.” She explained that if we reach a world where everybody is equal, it would scare those who were supposed to be on top.

Another audience member asked about Title IX federal law and what she believed could be done to address the issue of sexual assault as well as transphobia in sports. Dr. Fields suggested educating others on the issues, force educational institutions to do something about the way women are treated and to have a real culture change. She mentioned that it has become common for educational institutions to protect college athletes who have committed sexual assault in hopes of winning more sports tournaments.

She went on to say that we’ve made some progress in the last five to 10 years when it comes to speaking openly about transgender athletes, but “we are attached to our single-sex sports and single-sex bathrooms.” She proposed separating teams based on size and skill rather than by gender as a solution. Dr. Fields said that it becomes confusing when you try to fit people in a gender binary box. “You should be allowed to play even if you don’t fit in the box,” Fields said.

The last question for the evening came from a Sports Management student who asked Dr. Fields if she felt cannabis research would be more pertinent in the sports therapy scene. Coming from Colorado, she responded that the research is becoming more and more important when we see athletes resorting to opioids for pain relief. If cannabis is a sensible option that relieves pain while preventing addiction, more people should invest time and money into research, she said.

As the event ended, a line formed to purchase Dr. Fields’ book. Introduction to Sports Management student Maddie Cooper waited eagerly to buy “Female Gladiator.”

“I’m going to buy ‘Female Gladiator’ because it talks more about gender issues,” Cooper said.

Emily Carbali is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emily.carbali@uconn.edu.