The Ladies and Women of Olympic Sport.
January 26, 2014 2:06 AM   Subscribe

A question on vocabulary.  Why are some Olympic sports listed as "ladies" events, while others are "women's"?  Ski jumping is for ladies.  Ice Hockey is for women.
posted by feelinglistless to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is directly from my own ass, but I would guess that it might just be tradition for the older sports.

For instance, it's "Men's and Women's" tennis, but at Wimbledon, it's "Gentlemen's and Ladies'."

I would assume that the naming for some of the older sports just harken back to when that was the norm, and are now just tradition.

I could be dead-wrong, that just seems logical to me.
posted by JimBJ9 at 3:16 AM on January 26, 2014

I'm just guessing, but the governing bodies of individual sports have influence over the Olympic competition. For example, they determine the qualifying process and (I think) what form the competition takes. So if you look at soccer, the men's Olympic tournament is basically a U23 tournament (where each team is allowed a fixed number of older players) because FIFA wants a U23 tournament, whereas the typical Olympic sport isn't age-limited like that. Somewhat similarly, Great Britain don't compete in soccer in the Olympics (generally--2012 was an exception requiring long negotiations) because they can't participating in qualifying--'Great Britain' means the Olympic committee and it doesn't coincide with a FIFA member (it coincides (or doesn't, depending on your perspective) with four).

With that in mind, if we look at the FIS website, it talks about 'ladies', while the IIHF talks about 'women' (sort of--they don't seem to have much interest in women's hockey). So my guess is that it's a choice driven by the sport's governing body.
posted by hoyland at 4:58 AM on January 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

> This is directly from my own ass, but I would guess that it might just be tradition for the older sports

Since this is the first year women have been allowed to compete in ski jumping, I doubt that's the case.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:56 AM on January 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's individual vs. team sports designations.

Hockey and bobsled and curling are "women's" sports, but most of the ski sports are "ladies".

That's not a perfect divider; Biathalon is "women", but Cross-Country is "ladies".

Somewhere in a closet I have a warmup jacket from the U of Illinois Women's Ice Hockey team, so the terminology goes back at least 20 years.
posted by Kakkerlak at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2014

Maybe it is the Russian translator for the web site. I have never seen this in relation to the Olympics before.

The International Olympic Committee does not use the term "ladies" anywhere on its web-site for any sport. The US Ski Team does not use that term either.
posted by Flood at 3:59 PM on January 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think hoyland's on the right track here: each Olympic event is overseen by its own federation -- think of the IOC / organising committee as federal entities with powers devolved down to the federations. FIS terminology is definitely "ladies" (example) and the Sochi website may well be drawing from the federations' descriptions rather than the IOC's.
posted by holgate at 12:40 PM on February 13, 2014

Hockey and bobsled and curling are "women's" sports

IIHF: women; bobsled federation: women; curling federation: women.

That's not a perfect divider; Biathalon is "women", but Cross-Country is "ladies".

Biathlon has its own federation. Trivia: it used to be part of the same federation as modern pentathlon, but split off in 1993.
posted by holgate at 12:50 PM on February 13, 2014

NPR's Only A Game looks at this question and also comes to the conclusion that it's the governing bodies. Specifically, those governed by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and International Skating Union (ISU) use "ladies," all others use "women."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:30 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Financial Management: Spending and Saving   |   Best/Easiest/Cheapest way to stream video files... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.