Saudi Arabian Olympian Will Have to Compete Without Her Hijab: Is That Religious Discrimination? July 27, 2012

Saudi Arabian Olympian Will Have to Compete Without Her Hijab: Is That Religious Discrimination?

Guys.  I have the Olympic Fever.  I love the Olympics, and am thrilled that this is the first Olympics where every participating country is sending at least one female athlete!

Notably, Saudi Arabia has sent two women:

Sarah Attar, a 19-year old woman who has spent much of her life living and training in San Diego, CA (her father is Saudi and she has dual citizenship in Saudi Arabia and the U.S.), will be running the 800 meter race.

From what I have found, it looks like she has been training in long-sleeves, pants, and with her hair covered… however, when she runs track at Pepperdine University, she does wear a tank-top and shorts and no head-cover.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani is the second female athlete sent from Saudi Arabia, and is competing as a heavyweight in Judo. Her circumstance is quite interesting.

Saudi Arabia agreed to send female athletes on several conditions:

  1. They must respect the sharia dress code: Arms, legs, head all must be covered.
  2. They must remain with their escorts at all times.
  3. They must not interact with men.

However, International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer has banned any head-wear during the competition.  He cites strict safety rules deeming any head covering to be a risk to the fighter’s health. Additionally, men and women share space during warm-ups and competition, something the Saudi officials won’t be happy to hear. So far, though, they haven’t forbidden her from competing.

I am interested to see if there is any kind of falling-out due to this decision. There is already some noise on the blogosphere that this is a discriminatory rule.

I think that it means that those who are running the games think that an athlete’s safety takes precedence over anything else, including religious beliefs, but what do you think?

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  • gski

    As long as the rules were published and Vizer is following them, then I see no issue. If your religion prohibits you from following the rules then find something else to do. This is similar to catholic pharmacists not dispensing birth control, if you don’t want to do your job do something else.

  • The Other Weirdo

    And what happens if, during a bout, her head covering gets torn off? Or knocked off. By accident, I mean.  Also, does wearing a head covering put one’s opponent at a psychological disadvantage? There’s a reason people put crap on their faces when they attack a place. Or even a physical disadvantage. I can image the opponent being so sensitive to the other’s culture that there’d be a hesitation to do anything to harm it, like ripping off a covering, even accidentally.

  • m6wg4bxw

    I think safety and fairness should be priorities in (Olympic) competition. I don’t care if a person’s religious restrictions prevent them from participating. That’s their personal priorities. With that said, I couldn’t care much less about the Olympics.

  • If there’s an actual safety issue, then I think the federation is right. I’d hope they would look for an acceptable compromise, though.

  • Gordon Duffy

    This reminds me of the sports team that forfeited a championship rather than play against a girl. 

  • TristanVick

    If your religious rules make it impossible to compete in the Olympics, then don’t compete in the Olympics.

    Your faith can be important or the Olympics can be important. But if they clash… then you have to decide which is more important for YOU personally. Nobody can make that desiccation for you.

  • Thalfon

    If the rule is not motivated by religious discrimination, but rather by some legitimate argument in favour of the rule, then it is not religious discrimination to enforce that rule, even if it happens to force someone who is religious into a tough choice. I’m not familiar enough with the sport to judge myself whether the hijab would be a risk, but as I understand it the rule is not new one, and I have to imagine that the rule was motivated by safety concerns, absent evidence otherwise.

    Unless and until a legitimate argument crops up demonstrating with a reasonable level of confidence that there is no safety concern with the hijab, I don’t think someone should have a right to bend the rules in their favour because of a religious concern.

  • I’m inclined to think that any country which does not treat male and female athletes equally should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics, even if their discrimination is for religious reasons. The restrictions that female Saudi athletes face are dehumanizing and should be opposed by any civilized nation.

  • There have been many times in the past when Christian, Jewish, and Muslim athletes have abstained from competing on their respective sabbaths. That’s their choice to make; but it isn’t religious discrimination to refuse to reschedule an event for this reason.

    What’s interesting here, though, is that the sabbath conflicts, IIRC, have been personal decisions made by the athletes. But that may or may not be the case with Shaherkani. Maybe she wants to cover her head; maybe she doesn’t. I haven’t read into it enough to know. But it’s worth noting that the conflict is being imposed on her from the Saudi state (or, at least, its representatives in the form of  Saudi Olympic overseers). Her will, it seems, is to be treated as inconsequential.

  • Joe

    Wouldn’t discrimination imply that they are treated differently based on some characteristic (in this case religion)? This seems to be a case of applying the same rule to all (assuming of course that these rules weren’t put it place because these athletes were allowed to participate).  

  • stop2wonder

    The WWE allows their professional wrestlers (they call them WWE Superstars) to wear masks, and they are the professionals (best of the best).  The Olympics should follow suit.

  • Reasonist Products

     The fact that Saudi officials
    aren’t forbidding the Judo athlete from competing even though she is
    surrounded by men during warm-ups and competition is progress of a kind.

  • MJ

    Fuck Islam,  ban these bitches from competing if they’re going to bring their disease (Islam) with them.

  • m6wg4bxw

    LOL, nice try.

  • Kevin S.

    If I’m not mistaken, the Saudi’s were given an ultimatum on that this time around – if you don’t let your women compete, we won’t let your men compete.

  • Kodie

    It’s the restrictions of her religion that make it (on purpose) difficult for her to compete in sports. She is not going to melt if she shows her hair, so I would say it’s tough nuggets she believes something that strongly deters females from doing anything. That’s part of her faith, if that’s important to her.

    Here is another way to go about it:

    Ibtihaj Muhammad is a sabre fencer, an American Muslim who wears a hijab, and knowing she would have to be covered, chose a sport where she could compete and cover her hair. Doesn’t look like she made the US Olympic Fencing Team, but she is very highly ranked.

    Another article I read about a Muslim fencer who is male, it’s Ramadan. Oh well.

  • Again, it’s a matter of religious action versus religious belief. Whenever there is a valid secular reason to restrict an action, it should take precedence over belief without being treated as discrimination. A Catholic business that wants to operate as a business has to provide its employees with the same insurance as any other business… the religious action of the owner is trumped by secular needs. A Saudi athlete that wants to compete in an international forum has to follow the international rules. She can believe whatever she wants, but her actions are constrained if she chooses to participate (and nobody is forcing her participation).

  • Ken

    She is just a female, after all.

  • Bo Tait

    I would really love to hear the breakdown of how a head covering is a safety concern across all events. Archery? Triathlon? Weightlifting? Shooting? High jump? Long jump? Any jump really.
    How long ago was it that the Olympics allowed runners and swimmers to cover their whole bodies including their head? In the winter Olympics the speed skaters still wear the full suits.

    Not a hijab though, it could wrap around their necks and hang them accidentally while spiking a volleyball. You never know when a head covering is gonna get caught up in the wind and suffocate a sprinter. Or perhaps when they get sweaty the lose parts become whip-like and cause eye injuries to other competitors.

    Can there be no leniency?
    What if the head covering was specially made to be super duper safe just for the incredibly dangerous Olympic games? Which I guess is inherently more dangerous than being a police officer, as many regions have legalized turbans worn by Sikh officers.

    There may be some legitimate reasons to not have them in some sports, but if its not one that already requires the use of a helmet, just how serious of a threat is it?

  • Kodie

    Reading it again, seems like what she believes or prefers is unknown. What if it were her religion to take steroids? I think that’s just tough, still. It’s not discrimination – rules for sports are in place and refined from time to time but for everyone’s best interest, safety, fairness. Maybe she can wear a swim cap?

  • 3lemenope

    I’d buy that if the rules being adhered to bear some similarity to sense. It is beyond ridiculous to argue that any and all headwear is a danger to the safety of Judo competitors; nobody will be accidentally bludgeoned to death by a yarmulke or a fedora during a throw. Now, it is likely the case that the rules were intentionally drawn broadly so that borderline cases could be comfortably and unambiguously excluded, but in light of that, when a reasonable competing interest crops up that makes an argument for narrowing the overbroad rule slightly to accommodate that interest, it deserves at least a hearing on the merits. The question is not whether it is permitted or forbidden by the rules as written, but rather if the integrity of the contest would be compromised by varying the rules in a very specific way.

  • Bo Tait

    That’s a joke right? A psychological disadvantage?
    “Ok, hockey goalies. No more using painted helmets. You’re scaring our opponents into not scoring. ”
    “She was stripped of her medal after it was found she was unfairly intimidating the other competitors with her barb-wire tattoo.”

  • 3lemenope

    Or, maybe in light of the rules as they exist excluding an entire demographic (women from a large and quite populated swath of the Earth) being anathema to an event which proclaims its intent to be universally accessible and an expression of the entirety of humanity, it isn’t simply a question of whether the rules or the religion are more important. 

    Not to mention the fact that none of these women established the ruling interpretations of the religion that are causing the conflict with another set of rules that they had no input in forming, much less in many cases actually had a real opportunity to choose to believe in a different religion or no religion at all (considering the sociopolitical reality of the Middle East). So I think it is really silly to make this about the woman choosing whether the Olympics or their religion is more important to them, since all the impediments to their competing were placed there by other people’s choices.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Religious nonsense deserve NO respect.

  • Za_bugor

    It is not even their religion that prevents them from participating. It’s the ludicrous laws imposed by their misogynist government, not their personal choice. 3lemenope said it far more eloquently.

  • 3lemenope

    People, on the other hand, now people do deserve respect. Many people do not live in a place where religious affiliation is a choice. Should they be punished merely for being born in the wrong place?

  • Kodie

    There are other sports at which she could have gone for, but that would deprive her of the sport she enjoys and excels at. Maybe IJF has a good reason and maybe not and the rule can be looked at. This is not a case of the Olympics excluding her from competing on the world stage, but the code of her sport at the international level. I am trying to read the manual, so far can only find that coaches cannot wear head coverings, although it is worded:

    The following are forbidden at any time: shorter trousers, undressed upper body, any
    kind of head caps and cover, jeans, sweaters or similar sports unrelated dress, flip-flops.

    This is found under provisions for coaches. There are other strict provisions for the judogi and how it’s constructed but I am finding it difficult to find any other rules of dress, like bare feet (I’m assuming?) or no head covers. So while the coaches may not wear a hat of any kind, that is more obviously a rule of propriety and not safety or unfair advantage. I think then it’s a matter of their own nonsensical traditions, in which case, two nonsensical traditions at odds should allow the head scarf, for crying out loud.

  • fett101

    Only Judo is being talked about in regards to a ban on head coverings.

  • Randy

    I think it’s absurd to restrict social interactions, at a world event intended to create just such interaction.  Safety and equality come first.  Whether an objection is religious or not shouldn’t come into it.

    I oppose strict dress codes (including national team uniforms… this isn’t supposed to be about countries fighting each other) and it might be reasonable to allow hijab and turban sort of wear in several events.  Decisions should be based on evidence, available to the public.

    While we’ve made progress on women’s inclusion in sport, with some lesbian visibility, it’s too bad apparently only three  countries are sending one openly gay male athlete each (I believe they are Netherlands: Edward Gal, Great Britain: Carl Hester, Australia: Matthew Mitcham).  There are certainly hundreds more hiding in the closet.  Not even one from the USA?  I know you’re reading this, USA.  Come out, man.

  • fett101

    The difference is that Judo is a sport and the WWE is a show.

  • jose

     I think it is because it can get around your neck in the middle of all the wrestling and grappling and pretty much choke you.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If it’s a legit health concern, then no. I don’t think it’s discrimination.

  • Oregon Jeff

    Actually, having trained in Judo and other fighting arts that involve throws, *any* headwear can be quite dangerous, usually to the one wearing it, but in rare circumstances to the opponent.

  • Baby_Raptor

    The best at what? Fooling gullible people?

  • Oregon Jeff

    There’s no “wrestling” or grappling in Judo as it consists, in essence, of throws and falls. However, as many of the grasps used to setup throws happen around the neck, involve the collar of the jacket, etc., a hijab would present some exceedingly dangerous conditions for the wearer. Worse, the hijab could actually be inadvertantly responsible for cutting the skin at the neck if it were incorporated into a grasp and a throw.

  • Oregon Jeff

    Red herring, much, there, Bo Tait?

  • Oregon Jeff

    Thank you for pointing out what so many are missing about this. Religious discrimination, by definition, is when someone is treated *differently* based on their religion. This is a case of everyone being asked to adhere to the *same* rule and is therefore *not* discrimination — at all.

  • Bo Tait

    ah, shit. Im several beers in. Stupid drunky reading.

  • CanadianNihilist

     Actually there is a lot of “wrestling” and grappling in Judo.
    newaza is about half of it.
    The ref usually stands up the opponents pretty quickly though so you seldom see it in tournament.

  • Richard Seibel

    Hey guys, I have a second degree black belt in judo and was good enough to be a good regional competitor, but not national level.

    Not apparent to those unfamiliar with judo, but judo at the high levels is all about getting your grip. One of the strongest grips is grapping the gi behind the neck. Wearing a scarf puts the attacker at a disadvantage (difficult to grap the back of the gi) UNLESS they also grap the scarf in which case the attackee’s neck will be twisted in ways that it was not meant to be twisted. Until you have had your gi grapped at the back of the neck by an expert who is also very strong you have no idea how much force can and will be generated. IMHO – based upon decades of competing and teaching judo, it is my not so humble opinion that a head scarf is simply not safe.

    Not wearing the same uniform as everyone else definitely changes the format of the competition.


  • I can see the discrimination. Same thing happens when they keep me from using my holy motorcycle in the 400.

  • Oregon Jeff

    If it *doesn’t* create an advantage of some sort, then why do so many (both in sports and in combat through the ages) do it?

  • Richard Seibel


    One way of winning in judo is choking someone out until they pass out or tap out which ever comes first. In response to 3lemenope, a head scarf (worn around the neck) could definitely  change the effectiveness of a choke by spreading the force out over a larger area. It would also make it more difficult to find the caratoids (contrary to popular belief the most effective chokes are blood chokes, not adams apple chokes which are more painful/dangerous than effective). At the top levels, the difference between success and failure is very, very thin. So in response to 3lemenope, yes – a head scarf changed the integrity of the contest – it is not as he/she jokingly says something you would use to accidentally bludgeon someone to death with.

  • 3lemenope

    Actually, having trained in fighting arts that involve throws–one of which actually includes optional headgear–I’m calling bollocks. No, a yarmulke will not put an eye out. It’ll just…fall off.

  • I think this will be more interesting when a uniform requirement that is NOT safety related conflicts with religious requirements.

    I’m looking at you Beach Volleyball.

  • TristanVick

    I should point out that the Olympic rules are about sports, not religion. So they aren’t excluding any demographic… as that is simply not the concern of the sporting event or the organization. The rules are there to ensure fair play between competitors with regard to equalizing the playing field, so to speak. 

    If someone has a religious problem with those rules, that’s besides the point.

    Yet since this was the point of the piece, the interference of religion, my prior comment is justified, since if the rules of the religious practice/belief are incompatible with the sport, then it would merely be rational not to do that sport. 

    Of course, I agree with you about the women not having a say in the restrictiveness of their chosen faith, but that’s a cultural/religious issues and has nothing to do with the rules of any given sport. The analogy flows over into the example of the woman to wants to do Judo. Judo is a grappling/wrestling styled sport. It has very strict regulations on attire, so it seems the conflict is entirely because of the religious rules/regulations which go against the rules of the sport.

    I would not expect a highly specified sport like Judo to simply change its rule book based on the appeals of a religious person who wants to play the sport but practice a faith which is against the dress codes of that sport–and, yes, head gear would interfere with many of the grappling maneuvers and throws in Judo. Not only is there the potential of having the head gear brought down around the face, limiting vision, and thereby creating a disadvantage to the competitor, the head piece will most likely be stripped off during the roughness of the sport anyway.

    So if your faith forces you to make the choice–and this is the situation as I understand it–then, yeah, the woman will have to choose religion or sports. That’s simply the position these women find themselves in. 

    But the sporting organizers need not re-write the entire rule book just so a few Fundamentalists might enjoy a happy day of sporting. If you accommodate one group, based on arbitrary religious demands, then where does it stop? This isn’t about making it easy for sportsment and women to compete, it’s about making the competitions as fair as possible for those competitors to demonstrate their skills on an equalized playing field. The sports rules and regulations aren’t the problem here–the religious rules and regulations are.  

  • 3lemenope

    This is the kind of response I’ve been looking for. 🙂 Yes, if it can be shown that full-body dress disturbs the integrity of the contest, then it should not be allowed. Then the question becomes, is there a way to alter the head gear so it will still serve its religious function but not disturb the integrity of the contest? Perhaps a head covering that does not wrap around the neck?

    I’m not saying there’s an easy solution. I’m saying people should look for one, and make the Olympic games as inclusive as they are claimed to be. The general attitude about this issue seemed to me to revolve more around two unpleasant attractors: unthinking rules worship, and the fact that Islam is, like all religions, really rather silly. Actually when to take the first in light of the second, the whole thing becomes bizarrely ironic.

    The Olympic rules are not written on stone tablets. They were written with certain goals in mind and can be tweaked to better serve those goals while minimally impinging upon others. Sometimes an accommodation cannot be produced, in which case, it’s unfortunate for those who wish the variance, but they’re out of luck. But I don’t see any reason to shut down the conversation with “but the rules say so, so shut up, and if you don’t like it, quit and find a new hobby” which seemed to be the way this thing started.

  • HA2

     It’s not their personal priorities, though. It’s the priorities of their COUNTRY, which refused to send them otherwise.

  • Oregon Jeff

    While that may be true of the art of Judo, very little ne waza is used at the Olympic event. What you’ll see is made up almost entirely of nage waza (throws) and kaeshi waza (counters, mostly to throws).

  • Kodie

    The Olympics has the general goal of bring athletes from nations together for one sporting event. Normally all those sports have annual World Championships, in which the goal is not to bring athletes together, but to see who is the best in the world from each competing at increasingly competitive levels. The Olympics didn’t tell this woman she can’t wear her hijab, the IJF Director did. The rules at the Olympics for sports go by each of their own international rules of the sport. When you get all these sports together instead of seeing them separately, of course some allow head coverings and some require it, and some don’t allow it. I had speculated that it may be cultural on the part of the sport of judo, in which case it doesn’t make any more sense to disallow a head covering as it would be for Islam to require it. But I’m convinced it’s a safety issue, and wondering how she competed up to this level wearing a hijab.

  • 3lemenope

    I don’t think his/her point was that it doesn’t confer an advantage, so much as that it doesn’t confer an unfair advantage. The reasons for sartorial shenanigans in sports and war have several reasons behind them; to psych out an enemy/opponent, to visually belong to a team (keeping up that ol’ esprit de corps), to psych oneself up–because psychology and sociology aside, in combat people wanna feel badass, and looking badass helps that along–as well as more obvious pragmatic/functional concerns.

    Rules limit this behavior, because on the margins it can veer into dangerous territory. It would be unfair if you’re in a contact sport and you were allowed to affix spikes onto your uniform, for example. However, within those limits there is still usually plenty of room for optimization and advantage. And, as I noted, those rules usually reach far outside the actual zone of foreseeable danger to exclude many things that, upon case-by-case analysis, may not be such a big deal.

    Now, Richard Seibel, downthread, actually made a persuasive argument for how a hijab might actually interfere with the integrity of the sport (by making certain grapples and throws more difficult for an attacker to execute). The question then remains is there any give in the rules for traditional headgarb from the religious POV that would be able to address those concerns while still fulfilling their religious function.

  • Conuly

    Unless the rule does not actually have a valid secular reason. If the real reason for “no headgear” is to keep Muslim woman who wear hijab from competing, it IS discrimination.

    To say otherwise is to be like those people who go “Well, I can’t marry somebody of the same sex either, so it’s perfectly fair that gay people can’t!”

    I’ll note that I have no idea if the rule is legit or not.

  • stop2wonder

     What?!   Next thing you’ll guys will be telling me is it’s fake!

  • jose

     Awesome, thanks for clarifying. The Saudis have no point here, it’s pretty clear there’s no discrimination going on.

  • 3lemenope

    The Olympic rules are mostly about sports. Sometimes, they aren’t. For example, the original Olympic games to which the modern games are eponymous successors were generally contested in the nude. That would be against current Olympic rules, but not for any sporting reason; rather, rules against contestant nudity are a nod to prevailing cultural inclinations about the appropriateness of being clothed in public. A person who comes from a culture with sartorial rules that differ from the prevailing Western-dominated norm may look askance at those rules; are they wrong to do so? Rules that require covering the breasts are going to strike some cultures as oddly prudish, while to others revealing any skin below the neck would seem too prurient. 

    Which brings me to point the second, which is that while the Olympic rules may by-and-large be about sports, the Olympics themselves are profoundly not just about sports, as in the contest thereof. They are explicitly about bringing nations together peacefully in the name of good-will and all that stuff, to strive not just for personal achievement but also for national pride, spectacle, and the elevation of the esteem of the sport itself. Having rules that have the practical effect that “Muslim women need not apply” really puts a crimp in international good-will and elevation of the sport and all that.

    It is emphatically not the case that simply because a regulation is facially neutral that it is actually so. A rule of a political body, say, that said it would only conduct business on Saturdays would be facially neutral. After all, what is one day compared to any other? Except that such a rule would exclude all practicing Jews from participating in any issues before that political body; the rule will have quite effectively discriminated against them. Such as it is with hijabs and sartorial rules. 

    I don’t buy the slippery slope arguments regarding reasonable accommodation, mainly because as a matter of social history there are oodles of examples of accommodation working–and well–in analogous situations. The limits of accommodation are quite simply the limits of the integrity of the activity; a circumstance can be accommodated if the values that the rules were set up to protect are still protected given the variance. If it can’t, it can’t. But as I said upthread, the rules of sports, never mind the rules of the Olympics, are not carved in stone, were written (many of which, quite recently) with specific goals in mind, and are amendable to amendment if someone finds a better way to achieve those goals.

  • 3lemenope

    As I said upthread, the original Olympics were performed in the nude. There is no sports-related reason why they can’t be again. The only reason why they aren’t is because of attitudes regarding modesty. These are the same type of attitudes that motivate adhering to the hijab, just in a different direction and to a different extent (coming, as they do, from a different culture).

  • It is an unnecessary burden, and potential legal liability, for the governing board of a sport to attempt to determine if any particular headgear or garment is or is not safe. It is eminently reasonable for them to set a single standard (in this case, no headgear) and stick by it.

    If that rule conflicts with the cultural sensibilities of a small minority of potential participants, so be it. It’s no different than a handicap limiting somebody’s ability to engage in certain activities. It’s a big, diverse world. Sometimes entities can adapt, sometimes individuals need to. I think the situation under discussion is an example of the latter.

  • 3lemenope

    What you seem to be missing is that a rule can be facially neutral but still be functionally discriminatory. When the practical upshot of a rule is that millions of people–strangely all from one very specific demographic slice– are prevented upfront from a chance at participating, something has gone very wrong somewhere. 

  • I take it you’ve never ridden a bicycle naked?

    Seriously though, I’m sure you’d agree that whatever rule you have, it should be gender neutral.  In beach volleyball, the women are required to wear those speedo things, and the men are required to wear board shorts.

  • 3lemenope

    …and wondering how she competed up to this level wearing a hijab. 

    But that’s the thing, isn’t it? She qualified for the team, and she’s been practicing this way (one imagines, with other females also wearing hijabs) for quite a while. So where’s the beef?

    And here’s my thing; the Olympics this year, among other things, is featuring for the first time an athlete with actual bionic prosthetics that allow him to run without having, you know, legs. Obviously that takes a buttload more variances of rules and considerations about unfair advantage than a head-scarf, and yet, here we are.

  • 3lemenope

    If it’s such an onerous burden to vary rules to accommodate contestants, what explains the competition runner that doesn’t have legs who will be allowed to compete this year?

    The fact of the matter is, institutions make accommodations in service to competing values that they are designed to uphold. That requires trade-offs, variances, and analysis of special cases. I get the sense, somehow, that the reason this particular accommodation bothers folks here but the guy with no legs being an Olympic sprinter doesn’t is that it has to do with religion, which as a thing-unto-itself we have little respect for as a matter of course. It doesn’t at all follow that because we atheists think that religion is silly that others should too, especially when the values they are attempting to wrangle and balance are different than ours.

  • 3lemenope


    And yes. (To the gender neutrality thing, not the bicycle thing. 🙂

  • Elan

    I want other people to respect my religion, therefore I try to respect others. If this is part of their religion I think it would be nice if they could make an exception. I do think running the hundred meter would be easier and faster without the extra material, but what safety issues is the olympics worried about?

  • veganheathen

    My religion requires me to wear brass knuckles. Please make an exception for my religious beliefs too.

  • Bo Tait

    Im a boy.

  • Bo Tait

    I would say it depends on the head covering. If Its a single layer of a thin material it will not change the effectiveness of a choke. And carotid arteries are not found visually. Any judo practitioner with a few months experience can do a choke with their eyes closed.
    Its a tough call when it comes to chokes and head scarves though, I’ll grant you that. If there are multiple layers wrapped around the neck it could make a difference.

    But your comment on blood chokes vs strangles. Totally false. Adam’s apple chokes are painful, dangerous and extremely effective. Landed hundreds myself, been used on me as many times. The effect is different, result is the same. See emelianenko vs Sylvia as an example. Crushing someone’s throat is a quick path to victory.

  • AxeGrrl

    If the rule is not motivated by religious discrimination, but rather by some legitimate argument in favour of the rule, then it is not religious discrimination to enforce that rule, even if it happens to force someone who is religious into a tough choice.

    This about sums it up, imo.  Having said that, I think it’s perfectly fine to review and discuss current rules to determine whether or not their inclusion is legitimate.

  • AxeGrrl

    Yes, if it can be shown that full-body dress disturbs the integrity of the contest, then it should not be allowed. Then the question becomes, is there a way to alter the head gear so it will still serve its religious function but not disturb the integrity of the contest? Perhaps a head covering that does not wrap around the neck?

    I’m not saying there’s an easy solution. I’m saying people should look for one, and make the Olympic games as inclusive as they are claimed to be.

    Really nicely said, 3lemenope 🙂

  • AxeGrrl

    the Olympics this year, among other things, is featuring for the first time an athlete with actual bionic prosthetics that allow him to run without having, you know, legs. Obviously that takes a buttload more variances of rules and considerations about unfair advantage than a head-scarf, and yet, here we are.

    On another board I frequent, a man with precisely the same prosthetic legs commented that he thinks this guy has an unfair advantage over those without them (and gave a detailed description of why)

  • Richard Seibel

    Bo Tait,

    Of course I know caratoid arteries are not found visually – I used to find them by feel. And a scarf could/would affect the feel. Sometimes there is a disconnect between what I intend to write and what the reader reads. Also depending upon how slippery the fabric is, the hands might slip enough to be slightly off.

    It has been awhile since I was in judo but when I was, strangles were not allowed due to potential safety issues – as you say dangerous. The technique used in the “emelianenko vs Sylvia strangle” you referred to would not have been legal when I competed/taught. A crushed windpipe is not to be trifled with. I agree the strangle will be effective, just takes longer to black out. My experience was much longer.Of course the MMA fighters are much stronger physically than the competitors I used to do judo with and I expect can really crush a wind pipe. My experience with adams apple chokes (illegally applied, but missed by the referee or in practice without a referee) was people gave up from pain long before they blacked out. OTOH, I have had a world class judoka put me out in less than 2 seconds using the caratoid. Given a good caratoid coke I could put lower grades than me out in 30 seconds or less. When I slipped and got the adams apple by mistake I NEVER out anyone out – they gave up from pain first.

    Thought also occurs to me – in judo, the gi is integral to the competion. There are (or at least were when I competed and I have no reason to believe things in this area have changed since then) very stringent uniform requirements – e.g. the sleeves had to be a certain length relative to your arms. By adding a scarf, the uniform has changed and a competitor may have to learn new techniques during the match – it is entirely possible as the hand goes for a grip, it will either get the scarf or the scarf will interfere with the ability to grap the gi – especially in the back of the head which is an incredibly strong grip to have.

    Sorry, on this one the standard uniform has been the gi for over 100 years. Accomadating religious beliefs here is disrepectful to the sport’s culture, potentially dangerous, and changes the conditions of the contest. Want to run – wear whatever you want – you are only hurting yourself. Here you are affecting your safety and the conditions of the contest. I fail to see how anything put a swim cap (if that) could be a reasonable compromise.

    Oregon Jeff, Bo Tait, C Peterson, Tristan Vick – your comments make sense and good reading.

  • Gordon Duffy

     religious people are often the first to claim gays are asking for “special rights” and the first to ask for special rights for themselves.

    It would not be “nice if they could make an exception.” It would be wrong to make an exception.

    Just as it is wrong to allow pharmacists to decide what pills they want to dispense.

  • Nankay

    This gives Saudi Arabia a chance to say , “See? We let women compete, but it’s YOU who won’t allow them.” Lets them off the hook, doesn’t it?

  • Each sport is governed by its own body. They may choose to make accommodation in special cases, or not. The question asked here was whether this Judo example constituted discrimination, and I’m arguing that it does not. The rules for Judo are old- based on a combination of tradition and safety. Judo is a “uniformed” sport, and it makes sense to level the playing field by highly regulating that uniform.

    Athletes have chosen to skip their events because they were scheduled on their particular sabbaths. Very few saw it as religious discrimination when officials refused to reschedule. The Olympics are international, and necessarily involve athletes with a huge range of cultural tradition. It’s impossible to accommodate everyone. People simply have to be flexible. If their traditions are so rigid as to prevent flexibility, they probably should not be competing at all.

    And mistakes can be made… the case of the legless runner being an excellent example. I predict that’s an accommodation that will not persist.

    Personally, I’d argue for going back to naked competition for all events where the a uniform or safety equipment aren’t functionally required, and if it excludes the prudish cultures or individuals, so be it. The Greeks had it right. The Olympics is a private operations; its operators can do whatever they want.

  • Bo Tait

    I guess the difference in effective chokes comes down to how you define effective. If a black out is what you want, blood chokes are the way to go. If what you want is a debilitated, coughing, heaving possibly vomiting opponent a strangle does the trick. If you want to get a tapout in competition, either one will do.
    As to the speed of which each is effective, I again reference the same fight. Emelianenko is 6’0 and tapped out Sylvia, 6’8 I think, in seconds. Of course, he didn’t go out, but tapping out is the goal in that instance.
    I didn’t know strangles are off limits in judo. That would be the main reason I don’t like competitive judo. The federation is constantly limiting legal techniques in order to preserve the “tradition of judo” (ie single and double leg takedowns being nixed)

    I’ve been doing bjj and submission grappling for many years and I find strangles, although much more alarming than blood chokes when they’re applied to you, and more visually concerning when you see their effects, aren’t any more dangerous than any joint lock/submission when applied in competition. So long as you tap when the pain is too much, and the pressure keeps you from breathing, you’ll be alright.

    I know this nothing to do with the point of the article. I just find he mechanics of submission wrestling far more interesting than the legality of equipment.

  • Wouldn’t the extra clothing give the athletes more ways to conceal drugs that could be taken just before competing?

  • CanadianNihilist

    It sounds like we’re in agreement then.
    ground fighting is a part of judo and you don’t often see in in tournaments/Olympics.
    (but I bet you there will be some you’ll see this year)

  • One thing about the hijab is that it’s only required to be worn in the presence of men who are not family members.  If, as I suspect, sports in Saudi Arabia are highly segregated, with women competing only in the presence of other women, she would not have to wear a hijab.

  • SabsDkPrncs

     Is it possible she qualified via a wildcard invitation rather than in a global competition?

  • 3lemenope

    That’s a good point. On the other hand, I’d be surprised if she didn’t practice in what would be her competition uniform at least some of the time, just to get used to the difference.

  • 3lemenope

    You wouldn’t happen to have a linky, would you? 🙂

    From what I’ve read on the subject, the concern seemed to be an endurance one; a major brick wall that runners smack into pretty much first is lactic acid buildup in the calf muscles interfering with aerobic cellular respiration, whereas that’s not a problem when you have carbon-fiber springs instead of calf muscles. IIRC to that end he was restricted to the first leg of the relay where the theoretical advantage wouldn’t really come into play.

  • 3lemenope


  • Safety is a precedence.

  • I look at it like this.  If your religion forbids you to eat pork, don’t eat it or go into an establishment that serves it.  If your religion demands you wear a specific type of clothing and the establishment doesn’t allow it, then don’t go.  Personally, if they want to wear their headgear, I couldnt’ care less and we should let them.  But when someone demands I must respect their religion, then we can say they must respect our rules of our culture and our games or don’t play.  If they wear their headgear in judo, I would surly not change the rules of the game and if such headgear were used to get the advantage, it would be respected by those wearing headgear that those are the rules of the sport.  it is an interesting topic and i wonder what will actually happen during the games.  has anything happened already?

  • The Other Weirdo

    WWE is scripted entertainment. Yes, it requires oodles of athleticism, but it’s in now way, shape or form a sport like Judo.

    BTW, the WWE also has a rule that if the ref didn’t see it, it’s legal. Should we allow Olympic Judo contestants to also whale on each other assorted construction equipment they way they randomly do on WWE, so long as the ref doesn’t see it?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Nice try, but no. A while back–way back–there was a question of allowing handicapped golfers to compete with non-handicapped ones by permitting them the use a motorized wheelchair to get from hole to hole. As was pointed out at the time, that’s grossly unfair to the other competitors.

    If the rule said, this Olympic event is open to participants from every part of the world, except from Saudi Arabia, you’d have a point. However, the rule says, this is the dress code you must adhere to. That is all.

  • The Other Weirdo

    It’s no joke, but a serious concern. And nice strawman with the hockey, by the way, where the goalie masks are standard equipment and expected, thus no psychological deficit when they’re used. But if a goalie showed up with 2-foot long spikes attached to his mask in an effort to keep the opposing players at a greater distance, I’d bet that would raise a few eyebrows.

  • 3lemenope

    Nice try, but no. A while back–way back–there was a question of allowing handicapped golfers to compete with non-handicapped ones by permitting them the use a motorized wheelchair to get from hole to hole. As was pointed out at the time, that’s grossly unfair to the other competitors. 

    Of course, the obvious compromise there was they could just let everyone used motorized carts to get from hole to hole, as long pastoral walks are not integral to the game of golf, as is amply demonstrated by the vast proliferation of golf carts in regular use during the normal playing of the game in most parts of the world. Did that not occur to anyone?

    If the rule said, this Olympic event is open to participants from every part of the world, except from Saudi Arabia, you’d have a point. However, the rule says, this is the dress code you must adhere to. That is all.

    So what you’re saying is that the consequences of a rule (intentional or otherwise) cannot be taken into account in judging the wisdom of a rule so long as the plain text of the rule itself seems kosher?

    That strikes me as a really bad way to do rules analysis.

  • No.  There are four athletes competing as ‘Independent Olympic Athletes’ 

    but that’s for people who are essentially without a nation to represent them, not for people who’s nation decides not to send them for whatever reason.

  • amycas

     I’m torn on issues like this. On one hand, if it truly is a danger to the athletes, then I don’t think they should be allowed to wear it. I also know there have been problems in the past with women’s soccer teams not being allowed to wear hijabs. It all reminds me of the ban in France. I can’t stand that the women are forced to subscribe to these misogynistic rules, but banning the head covers for whatever reason (safety issues, trying to advance women’s rights) only tend to harm the women again.

  • amycas

    This is exactly why I’m torn on the issue. If the Olympics allow them to set all those crazy rules for the women, then they are accepting and partially condoning women being treated that way. However, if they don’t accept the rules then the women don’t get to compete at all. Either way, the women are being punished. I just really don’t know which way to go on this one.

  • Kristen White

    I do understand the safety issues and the reason behind the rule, and that should come first. That being said, it saddens me that the person caught in the middle of this is Shaherkani. It must have taken so much grit and strength to get to this position as a Saudi woman. Now, she’s told she can’t wear the headscarf, which could have serious consequences for her when she returns home, assuming she’s allowed to compete at all.  

    If this comes up in the future, I think the IOC should compromise to the greatest degree possible. If a hajib doesn’t create competitive inequity, it should be allowed so that more Saudi women can compete.  

  • I think a bit of a double standard that South Africa was not allowed to compete due to apartheid.  Sure, Iran and Saudi Arabia allow women to compete, but hardly under equal conditions.  When if a nation required all its black athletes to cover their hair when in view of white people?

  • SabsDkPrncs

     Wildcard invitations are offered to competitors by the IOC who didn’t qualify via normal channels.  I don’t know what the IOC’s selection criteria is, but two of the women from Qatar are at the Olympics because of wildcard invitations.  I couldn’t find information on how the judo player qualified though.  The Independent Athletes are a different thing.

  • Travshad

    In Olympic beach volleyball women are now allowed to wear shorts (up to 3 centimeters above the knee) and sleeved or non-sleeved shirts instead of bikinis.

  • brianmacker

    Actually the rules don’t exclude them. They are no more excluded than than by the rules for wet T-shirt, bikini, or beauty contests. Self imposed restrictions don’t amount to exclusion. They are acting like a vegetarian at a hot dog eating contest. They are welcome to enter their dogs in our dog shows, and participate in our bacon eating contests. That they chose not to is not because they are being excluded.

  • brianmacker

    What if the priorities of their countries were such that women are not allowed to compete in sports period? How are rule changes going to help then? Are we supposed to change the rules to turn them into cooking contests? Are we going to have to add Quran recitals, and Arabic spelling contests to the olympics to accommodate them?

  • brianmacker

    … Or her religion not to submit to medical procedures ( drug testing).

  • brianmacker

    Shaving the hair and applying a thick layer lof latex paint should solve the problem. No danger of some Muslim male spotting her hair and getting an erection. Well, except for the fact of every other female contestant there not being covered. Not sure why they allow any Saudi men out of the country whatsoever.

  • brianmacker

    Each leg of a relay is the same length. Why would the first leg be any different? Sounds like you read something you failed to understand.

  • brianmacker

    .. And not surprising if the Saudi men didn’t give a damn about her safety. These kinds of rules allow the locking of women in burning buildings to protect their modesty.

  • brianmacker

    It’s not like we don’t have hats in the non- Muslim countries then upon learning that Muslims had them we banned them. This is a ancient sport based on ancient tradition. So we should say screw Japanese tradition in favor of Saudi?

  • except that 2nd-4th legs get a running to start to match speed.  Although I don’t see how that would be enough to cause significant lactic buildup, so my main thought is ‘citation needed’.

  • brianmacker

    Golf is a sport and is supposed to involve at least some exercise. So what if people play non regulation golf? We going to change the rules of the NFL just because some people play touch football? What strikes you as making sense seems not to make any sense whatsoever.

  • 3lemenope

    Sounds like you read something you failed to understand.

    That has been known to happen. 🙂 Though in this particular case, it is more likely that I’m just misremembering what I read in passing.

    This article and this one were the ones I read, I think. (At least, they seem familiar.) The first article suggested that tests run by the IAAF indicate that Pistorius has an unusual acceleration profile over the course of a race; most racers in the 400m start fast and slow down over the final 200m as the calf muscles fatigue, whereas Pistorius is relatively slow for the first 200m and then speeds up right to the end. 

    There is also some interesting stuff about stride timing, oxygen consumption, and the general mechanics of running.

    One of the articles mentioned he’s also running the 4x400m relay, so for some reason I must’ve just crossed that piece of data with others in my head in error.

  • brianmacker

    SCOTUS makes all sorts of illogical decisions. For example supporting clearly unconstitutional (and insanely irrational) asset forfeiture laws.

  • brianmacker

    Sorry it was I who failed to understand something I should have picked up on.

  • brianmacker

    Yeh, duh, I feel pretty stupid now. :(. … and I used to race the two mile relay. I have a hard time thinking it effects the calf muscles that much. It’s likely most about the energy that can be stored in the springs.

  • Kodie

    Um, yeah. If the reason you can’t wear headgear in judo is because of some mystical rationale or local custom indicating some abstract quality bound only by tradition it should be a choice to wear a hijab or not. One religion is no better than the other when these sports gain Olympic/world championship legitimacy.

    That’s supposing there’s only one reason and that is it. If that is it, but they are making up other reasons, or if there are valid other reasons – judo looks pretty fierce but I can’t see where visible hair is necessary, and I can’t find in the rules where it specifies no head covering except for the coaches’ dress code – all a matter of respect for the occasion and venue and not a valid reason. Why can’t a coach wear a turban or yarmulke? Why does Western etiquette instruct that a gentleman remove his hat when a lady enters?

    If the head being covered is the thing, maybe someone needs to market a sporty hijab, one that can’t choke or fall off but doesn’t interfere in sport. Don’t steal my idea.

  • brianmacker

    You still didn’t give a reason for why Saudi custom should win out. You merely poopooed one tradition, which I can do to the idea women should cover their hair so men don’t rape them. Why not abandon other traditions in the sport of Judo in favor of non-Islamic local traditions. Make them all fight in burkas. You know the kind that look like potato sacks with a mesh covering the eyes. Another Saudi supremacist solution is to ban all men from observing any sport a Saudi woman participates in.

  • brianmacker

    Oh, and I am saving some popcorn for when the add pole dancing and female sumo wrestling to the Olympics. Not to watch the wrestling, but to see what kinds of special religious accommodations are requested in both cases.

  • Kodie

    That doesn’t make any sense. If there’s a purely traditional reason for something, there’s no reason not to accommodate other traditions. If it’s a tradition that we all are led in prayer by the public school principal, it merits challenge as to its inclusion of all people. People can still pray in school, but it’s not mandatory. It’s not that one tradition “wins” and everyone has to comply with the most restrictive tradition in order to accommodate the one person for whom it is important.

    If there’s some other reason where a hijab will upset the balance or safety of a competition, then it’s tough for the hijab wearer. I fence, I posted a link to an article about an American Muslim who covers her hair, who chose fencing as one sport where that would not interfere with the rules. We have a tradition of opponents saluting with masks off prior to the bout. Masks are for safety, the tradition is that you face your opponent with your actual face. I think in a high-level competition, people can be assured that their opponent is who they’re supposed to be and don’t have to see for themselves, but they still do it. What if someone wore not just their hair covering but a full-face covering – as long as their vision is not impaired, it should not be a problem. I don’t know whether the FIE has something to say about that or if it’s been challenged. After the bout, you shake hands, your bare offhand, not your gloved weapon hand. This means that right-handed fencers shake with their left hand and some cultures have superstitions about that. Is physical contact the most important part? It is just show of respect and good sportsmanship, so I don’t think shaking hands should be required. Respect is the purpose of this ritual, and if it disrespects someone to do it, it negates the traditional purpose in favor of offending someone.

    Neither one is right, not the ethnocentric rules-maker nor the outsider for whom these quaint rituals conflict with their own. Japanese traditions take the sport of judo back to its origin, but once in the global realm should be able to accommodate people from other cultures and more than happy to include more athletes than exclude them because they don’t shake hands or they cover their hair.

    Keep in mind, I think for judo it’s a legitimate safety issue, but in theory if it’s just a matter of tradition, one’s quaint tradition should not exclude someone for having a different quaint tradition, nor does inclusion or accommodation of the latter do any sort of forcing all the competitors to now cover their heads. If it’s optional by tradition, then it doesn’t change anything. If it’s a safety or balance issue, then of course no hijabs, sorry.

  • Kodie

    I look forward to your book, “How to Build A Straw Man,” by brianmacker.

  • Newyorkgiantsgi

    OK, about this article… It is clear that her wearing her hijab in Judo would absolutely cause, at a minimum, a safety risk to her. Cut and dry, it should not be allowed. As far as all the people who want to change the rules go… Are any of you football fans or are you all far to intelictual and base too much of your lives on arrogant speach to debase yourselves so far as to encourage such barbaric activity? The way the rules in the NFL have changed over the last couple of years is ruining the sport. Yes, it is violent. Yes there is a high risk of injury. The players are VERY well compensated for said risk. But to make it all but illegal to touch the quarterback, or “hitting a defenseless reciever” makes it into another sport all together. The individuals that participate in the sport know the risks associated and make a decision to participate based, I would hope, on a weighing of those risks versus their desire to compete and the compensation that they receive. So, changing the rules does change the sport. As someone else here put it, if the greatest quarterback ever seen only played flag football would we completely revamp the NFL rules so that he doesn’t have to wear pads or a helmet and that he is not allowed to be tackled? No, it wouldn’t be safe for him, and it would absolutely take a sport that is already caving to the “hold everyone’s hand and not hurt anyone’s feelings” crowd and make it a mockery of it’s former self.

    So now, the woman in question here… Whether the restrictions are put in place by her personally of the country she chooses to represent (remember the other female athlete is a student in the US and has dual citizenship), then she has to realize if she wants to follow those restrictions then she cannot compete at the highest levels of the sport. She has to make her own decision based on the risks versus gains. Maybe she is the greatest female Judo fighter in the world. She has to weigh the risks of dis-honoring her religion versus her personal and national glory on the Olympic field.

  • Kodie

    That’s like the “free will” argument. You’re free to believe or not believe in god, as long as you know that you’ll be punished by going to hell when you die… it’s your choice. Same thing here – she may agree with it, but if she doesn’t, it’s not really a choice if the consequences are “play a sport you like” and “die for breaking a rule.”

    I’m also remembering that soccer player who took off her shirt after making the winning goal to reveal her sport bra; meanwhile, women’s beach volleyball tops are essentially a sports bra, as is what some runners wear, but it was a scandal in the US about the soccer player because she showed her bra, which in soccer isn’t the uniform. ::google:: Brandi Chastain – that happened in 1999, holy crap I feel old. Anyway, who did she dishonor, and what was her penalty for it? She could spontaneously react without fear of death, and because she’s American, everyone forgot it after a while and most of us didn’t care in the first place. You can’t apply that sort of thing to a Muslim in a country so strict they didn’t want to send women to the Olympics in the first place that make it difficult if not impossible for her to compete anyway. It’s not like she can freely choose to remove her hijab to compete and let it blow over the same way it does here.

  • Kodie

    This is Jackie Joyner Kersee in Barcelona Olympics in 1992 wearing a top the size and shape of a sports bra:

    Not a requirement but not banned.

  • brianmacker

    What you are not understanding is the for the most part sports are defined by arbitrary rules, and so are religions. One cannot always accommodate one with another.

    Changing certain traditions fundamentally changes the sport. Traditionally we do not allow mechanical enhancements in certain sports, or only allow certain tools such as bats of a certain dimension. You seem to think there is some external standard by which you can modify the sport and still preserve it in every case.

    Sumo wrestling is an example where that is not the case so maybe that will let you wrap your head around the concept. Good luck making that hajib friendly for women.

    Don’t expect any swimming records from Muslims if they insistence on wearing tradition dress into the pool.

  • brianmacker

    Look you are already wrong for safety issues. On this thread we are discussing traditions. Not every tradition is compatible nor can they all be accommodated to each other. just because Some Muslims are willing to execute women over these things doesn’t make their traditions more valid. You are acting like there is some universal non-arbitrary way to decide between traditions. What if it were the Japanese willing to go to war over the dispelling of their traditions. Judo is a Japanese traditional sport, not a Saudi one. That’s one non-arbitrary way to decide. Yet, even non-arbitrary reasons can conflict.

    The question was whether this was religious discrimination and that was the basis of the objection. It isn’t, they are wrong, end of case. These are voluntary participatory sports, and if you don’t like wearing the traditional judo uniform, which is integral to the definition of the sport and NOT worn for purely safety reasons then don’t join the sport. The uniform does not have a hat, sorry.

  • Kodie

    You’re the one whose not understanding buddy, and I get that you’re a troll, but you’re just not getting it.

    You are containing traditions of a sport within the guidelines of the rules of a sport. Some, certain equipment is REQUIRED. FOR SAFETY, and also FOR conformity as per the perceived or real advantage or disadvantage of being different. Other rules are traditions or ethnocentric rituals that do nothing to imbalance a match nor confer an advantage over one or the other opponent.

    You are making up a straw man argument. It is worth challenging the traditions if they have no other value in the sport when the sport has gained participants from the rest of the world. Is the rule a Japanese traditional sensibility (over a Saudi one), or is the rule made for safety and/or balance of the contestants? The first kind should be challenged if it’s only cultural – I think you lose the right to retain your local cultural traditions once the sport is globally competed. There’s no logical reason, and rules should strive to be logical, to supersede one contestant’s cultural requirements with another one.

    For another made-up example – sometimes they schedule a match on Saturday and the orthodox Jew cannot compete (I would say that’s too bad if it’s random), but if it were in the rulebooks that says International Frisbee TAG (a fictional Olympic sport) is only played on Saturdays, I would question why that rule stands, not slam the poor Jew for being superstitious. They’re equally superstitious, and we’re competing globally. At least in theory the intent on the inclusion of competitors from all over the world should modify to include the world, not just someplace that has traditionally only played on Saturdays, the reasons for which have been lost to time, but it’s always been done that way. Don’t you think that’s a rule category that ought to be challenged for flexibility on the schedule? It doesn’t matter if most of the players have no problem playing on Saturday, the point is that most people would be flexible if the rules were changed to accommodate and it wouldn’t change how the game is played. 

    And I’ve said I think the hijab in Judo is a safety hazard and a sport changer. I am not in favor of accommodating a  safety hazard or a sport changer. Learn the difference between two things and stop making them the same thing.

  • Kodie

    If Japan were going to go to war over dispelling their traditions, I’d cut the sport from the Olympics and nobody gets to play.

  • brianmacker

    The rules that define a sport and distinguish it from another are in fact arbitrary. Soccer could include a rule that one can use ones hands but it doesn’t. Once you allow the use of hands it is fundamentally a differnent sport. Softball is NOT just hardball with women. Judo with scarves and headdresses is NOT judo. It can fundamentally change the sport into a different one without effecting the balance or safety. Thinks like determining the position of the head, ability to grip, abilitynto judge which way you opponent is looking, and so in can all be effected. If everyone is wearing head scarves then you are playing a different game.

  • brianmacker

    I already agree with a lot of your other posts and we are not discussing that. We are discussing sports changers and you fail to recognize that such changers are modifications of what are arbitrary rules. Even rules about safety are arbitrary because the level of risk depends on the sport. There are sports that are to the death. Remove that risk by changing the rules and you have a sports changer. The fact that one of these arbitrary rules was written down is a big hint that it defines the sport. Judo includes a rule not to wear head gear. The Judo ruling body thinks that is important. Case closed, and it doesn’t matter what their reason so long as it is not an artifice designed to discriminate, like the stupid Saudi rules imposed on women.

  • Kodie

    You are describing what I would call a balance issue – makes an obvious unfairness of play. If you take another sport like running, gymnastics or weightlifting, parts of dress are required and beyond that, decorative or perhaps important to the athlete. A gymnast can wear a small necklace, but not a chunky string of beads. A runner can wear a head covering but not a big Easter bonnet. I think shoes might even be optional, but if one wears shoes, they have to be rubber-soled and not wheelie sneakers or dress pumps. Watching women’s beach volleyball, the Argentinians are wearing bikinis and the USAns are wearing long-sleeved jersey/bodysuits. It doesn’t affect the judging or the sport.

    I think they did this in swimming not too long ago where some had worn suits that had bottoms that were longer like bike shorts and did move faster in the water – now they all wear them. A question of affecting a sport and just being “because” are two different questions – which I already called you on not understanding.

  • Kodie

    It does matter what the reason is. It may not be designed to discriminate against anyone, and it may be due to a valid reason, but rules can discriminate and exclude someone without thinking. Like the rules made by privileged Christians in the US, some enforced by government until someone said it’s not inclusive and it doesn’t need to stand. Even if it’s one of the commandments not to murder, it’s not like taking the 10 Commandments out of school makes it then ok to murder. Being envious of your neighbor, not so much. I think capitalism actually relies on it. But you don’t have to be.

    No, I don’t think all rules are “end of story.” Rules are constantly being modified and refined, I mentioned fencing, there is a rule that you have to be fencing. You would think it is obvious, but two fencers can just stand waiting for the other to move. There are strategies involved in doing that, but some take it too far, and hurts some fencers by refining that rule in the recent version, since it takes away one of their strategies. Maybe they can be appealed to change it back and maybe everyone will just have to adjust. Either way, they made fencing a sport because it’s fun and people should enjoy it without risking death. Electricity changed the sport, there’s a good example. There is no “end of story” in any rulebook. They changed the masks for foil fencers so the bottom half of the bib matches the line of the collar of the lamé, this involves an extra cord, makes it so the actual torso is the target and not get a free pass just because a touch lands on the bib of the mask.

  • Geez you two, get a roomalready!

  • brianmacker

    So maybe we should cut all female participation in the Olympics because Saudi traditionalists might get a bug up their ass an fund some terrorists so that such shameful western traditions don’t pollute their culture? Does your decision only depend on a full scale war or do cold wars, guerella wars, and war via terror count?

    Saudi traditions are meant to take offense so I don’t see why we need to accommodate them.

    Note that you could have just accommodated the Japanese, what happened to your accomdationist notions? You are willing to bend to the Saudis so they can maintain their oppression of women, yet aren’t willing to accommodate the Japanese to prevent war. Now you’ve got the Japanese pissed and sharpening their blades because of one single country not willing to play by the rules of Judo. Luckily not everyone is unreasonable as the Saudis.

    So you with the big endians or the little endians because when you have conflicts of tradition that is what it amounts to when you try to accommodate where there is unresolvable differences. I think the better solution is to allow games in from both countries and let them decide whether they are willing to abide by the sport.

  • brianmacker

    It’s not a balance issue if everyone wears a scarf. It becomes a different sport.

  • Kodie

    Straw man. No one said they have to all wear a scarf. 

  • brianmacker

    I understand everything you said and it is NOT relevant to my point.

    If we allow kicking in boxing then it isn’t fundamentally unfair if everyone is allowed to do it. It merely becomes kickboxing. It is not a concern for unfairness that motivates people not to want to change the rules. They don’t want to change the sport they are playing. The Saudis want to have the rules changed in Judo to allow anyone to wear a head covering and a scarf. That is no longer Judo. If they thought it was they’d be insisting that the same rule be used for the men. Why can’t you understand that changes to the rules change the game fundamentally without neccesarily ruining the balance between the players. The Saudis want to make the girlies play the judo equivalent of softball, taking in the supposed need of the weaker sex to hide their hair.

  • Kodie

    If the Muslims invented a sport for men, and interest had been taken in it worldwide and in free countries allowed women to play and it was entered in the Olympics, and the Saudis would not allow women’s teams to play their sport at that level, I’d say fuck your sport, it’s not in the Olympics. It’s about sharing and competing, not about excluding and being an asshole about something that doesn’t matter to anyone else. That’s all, you’re way too dense to get through to. So misinterpret what I’ve said, make some more straw man arguments, I’m done trying to spell things out for you.

  • brianmacker

    The case is closed when the ruling body that decides which changes are allowed to the rules decides the change isn’t happening. That is the sense that the case is closed. I’m already at the meta level. If you want to go to the meta meta level then maybe we exclude the Saudis like we did the South Africans.

    Your comment on capitalism is ignorant.

  • brianmacker

    You don’t know what a straw man is. I’m not trying to define your position. I’m trying to make you see something. I didn’t say the rules forced them to wear a scarf. That’s a straw man. Once you allow scarfs the play is still balanced between opponents because they choose whether to wear one or not. just as they can choose to train or not, or use a particular move or not. You are not however playing the same sport as before with scarves.

    You can call this situation a balance issue if you want. I call it a game play issue. It turns into a different game.

    The rules of chess are arbitrary as are the rules of checkers. You can convert one to the other by changing the rules. There are a near infinity possible games and you can even move from one tomthe other via multiple single rule changes

    I’mnot trying to define your pos

  • brianmacker

    LOL. But you won’t say “fuck your sport” to the Saudi version of Judo which includes scarves? Why not? It is a different sport. Just like softball is a different sport than hardball. Why not say fuck you to their discriminatory version, even if scarfs are safe? Merely on the basis that it changes game play, which you like to call a balance issue. Sure we could change over to the Saudi version and the game would still be balanced between players, but then we’d be changing to accommodate misogyny. Such a change normally would be an arbitrary choice to change the sport into another, but in this case it is motivated by accommodation of misogyny. We however enjoy the beauty of flowing hair as part of the match and now that head scarfs have been added everyone that wants to win is choosing one. All because Saudis are prudes who thing a woman’s hair is sexual, and sexual thoughts outside marriage is bad.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I don’t see why every willfully self-isolating minority group has to be accommodated in every single event. It was bad enough we let Sikh applicants to the RCMP wear the turbans. Knowing that I have no power to affect any outcome, I must put my foot down in this case.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I might actually watch it, then. The women’s competitions, at any rate. 🙂

  • Daniel Schealler

    That was my only concern: That the safety requirement was fabricated.

    What you’ve said sounds reasonable enough – so long as that’s accurate, I think it settles the issue on my end.

    In that context, if anything prevents Shaherkani from competing, it will be Saudi Arabia’s ideological restrictions that are at fault – not the policy regarding head covering.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Unlike some of the others here, I agree with you that the concern is a legitimate one: If an otherwise fair and reasonable rule restricting behavior excludes an entire section of people, then that’s a negative consequence. It should be a key part of the consideration that surrounds the response and the rules – and if a reasonable compromise can be made then perhaps it should.

    However, in this case I think that the safety concerns of wearing a head-covering during judo is well founded. It makes sense to me that the covering could, once gripped and pulled tight, either twist the head and neck in undesirable ways, or restrict the athlete from intentionally and safely shaping their head and neck in response to such a hold. Either could easily have disastrous consequences for the athlete.

    The safety concern in this particular case strikes me as legitimate, and on those grounds I think that having safety trump the religious sensibilities of competing athletes is the correct answer. The consequence of excluding Muslim women who either personally insist or who are required by others to wear such a covering is, in this context, an unfortunate necessity of adhering to principles of safety and fairness.

    If Saudi Arabia cannot bring themselves to make an exception to the head-covering rule for female athletes competing professionally in a context where the head covering is a legitimate safety concern, then the fault lies with Saudia Arabia for preventing their female athletes from competing. It wouldn’t be the first time.

  • 3lemenope

    I don’t see why every willfully self-isolating minority group has to be accommodated in every single event.

    And I never argued they should. What I have been arguing is that when a case of conflict occurs, it is worth it for a supposedly pluralistic society/institution to take a quick look at the rules causing the conflict to see if an amenable solution can be found. If it turns out there is none to be had, then at least you can say you tried. 

    I really, really, really just cannot wrap my head around the galloping flaming status quo bias that has been burning through this whole thread. Rules are simply tools to achieve institutional or social goals; they were written by people because at the time they were written it was thought they would be the best specific tools to approach achieving specific institutional goals. Rules change with practice, they change over time, they change in reaction to the discovery of latent ambiguities not contemplated by the rules’ authors, or in reaction to situations unanticipated by or not encapsulated by the specific reason that motivated its writing in the first place. They also change in response to shifting values and goals in the organization and among the wider society.

    In light of all that, I really do not understand all the gnashing of teeth resulting from someone suggesting that rules are not sacrosanct and can be looked at and reviewed and possibly modified or varied.

    It was bad enough we let Sikh applicants to the RCMP wear the turbans.

    Bad enough? What, precisely, is so horrible about mounties with turbans?

  • Daniel Schealler

    As an aside: This is possibly a horrible suggestion in and of itself, and if so I apologize. But for context, I think the requirement that women must cover their hair at all times in public is horrible to begin with, so any compromise with such a position is bound to have elements of the horrible within it.

    Is the purpose of the head covering to hide a woman’s hair from lustful male eyes? That was my understanding, which could be wrong.

    But assuming I’m right… Could the female athletes shave their heads? If there is no hair to cover, then could the requirement to cover the head then be relaxed?

    I acknowledge that this is a horrible suggestion in its own way. Forcing a person to shave their heads against their will is frequently used as a dehumanizing and cruel form of psychological and emotional violence, so I don’t suggest it lightly. To the point that, even if it would allow the Saudi’s to retract the requirement for the head covering, it very well might still be a worse outcome than the requirement for the head covering itself.

    Yet I am curious. Would that be enough to allow Saudi Arabia to permit the athletes to forgo the head covering for the purpose of professional athletic competitions? Somehow I think it wouldn’t, but I couldn’t for the life of my suggest why.

  • 3lemenope

    I agree. I think if the rule regarding this particular case is earnestly analyzed and it turns out (as I think is probable) that a neck-wrapped headpiece could pose a safety hazard, then the compromise must then come in part from the other direction. Kodie, I think it was, further up the thread, suggested that someone design a religious headpiece that doesn’t cause the same problems–a “sports hijab” analogous to a sports bra–which shouldn’t be impossible. That would be the responsibility of the Saudis. Then they come back and say, hey, we addressed your safety issue, now it’s your turn. 

    And go from there. 

  • Joe

    Actually, no that is not discrimination you are describing but adverse impact. It’s a fine distinction to be sure but there are important differences. Most notably discrimination requires intent whereas adverse impact is unintentional (analogous to the distinction between first degree murder and man-slaughter in the american justice system). 

  • No it’s not discrimmination but Liberation you know those women no longer want to wear those things they want to dress like the rest of the world only the oppressive men want them to be unfree! Africans use to run around with no clothing now they wear clothing it’s a fear of change and too much pride why there’s a big deal about what these people should wear! And the only reason why they dressed that way to begin with was to shield them from The Sandstorms the Sandstorms have ceased and The Word has changed over the time so change with them! Common Sense will save one’s soul! Why dress that way aint no more sandstorms going on that we’ve heard of on CNN and if we did hear of one it’s one in a million! No different from any other storms we wear umbrellas and rain gear during the rain to shield the rain but not every damn day dang! Catch up with the rest of the world and stop imposing your way of life and killing those who disagree! You were born alone and you die alone! Free Will! You can’t live for me and I can’t live for you It is between You and God!

  • ETM

    well, can u wear a turban when doing judo? NOT! rules are rules. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DISCRIMINATING ONE’S CULTURE OR BELIEF. it revolves and only involves SPORTS. no more no less.

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