Lydia Ko’s honesty sheds light on the uncomfortable but important topic of sports times
Zoe George is a sports reporter for Stuff
OPINION: Periods. Rules. Waowhero. “That time of the month,” as golfer Lydia Ko professed in her post-game interview on Monday.
Social media praised the 25-year-old golf champion’s honesty about why she needed physiotherapy in the final round of the Palos Verdes Championship, in which she finished tied for third.
Interviewer Jerry Foltz’s reaction was invaluable, but his reaction was part of a bigger picture when it came to talking about menstruation in sports – it doesn’t happen, and when it does, (some) people feel uncomfortable about it.
To put it bluntly, the rules are not comfortable. For some, as Ko pointed out, it causes back pain, for others it’s like living a Trent Boult fastball in the lower regions relentlessly for days.
I hate to point out obvious bleeding, but over half the population of New Zealand experiences this natural and normal occurrence, and it’s time we normalized discussions about periods, especially how it affects girls’ ability and women to participate and engage in sport.
* Lydia Ko’s period pain is not an excuse, it’s a valid reason
* Winter Olympics newcomer Chloe McMillan hopes to inspire other Kiwi women
* The Problem With Wearing White: How Women Test Cricketers To Manage Menstrual Anxiety
In 2021, Sport New Zealand found that there was a significant decrease in sport participation among girls and young women in adolescence. Reasons include feeling body conscious and inappropriate uniform design.
Community-level and elite-level female athletes spoke about the impact of uniform design, particularly during menstruation. In gymnastics, we’ve heard stories of athletes withdrawing from competition and training because of skimpy uniforms that don’t offer much coverage.
Then there are the white uniforms. “Please stop making us wear white” was the call of those who engaged in the search for Victoria University in Melbourne that address key barriers to women’s participation in sport. Research found that 64% of girls want dark colored stockings.
The research found that girls reported feeling self-conscious about their periods and the color white exacerbating this feeling, especially when they feared running away.
The same goes for elite athletes like Football Fern striker Katie Rood, whose international uniform is mostly white.
“These are your team colors. You deal with it, but there have been times when you’re a little uncomfortable or worried, and I’ve had teammates who have bled. It’s awkward and uncomfortable,” she said. Thing Last year.
“As a team you sometimes check on each other. You give those around you a “hey, this could happen, could you keep an eye on me” warning.
“You shouldn’t have to do this. You just want to play the game and do it the best you can without having to worry about it.
According to a recent study by global sportswear brands Puma and Modibodi, one in two girls do not exercise during their period. Brands are launching waterproof underwear specifically designed for athletes, hailed by Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, who said “it’s time to break the silence and help women and girls stay comfortable and active during their period.
Then there is the period of poverty – the inability to access sanitation products due to cost. A 2018 report from KidsCan revealed one in two women struggled to access these necessities because of the price, and one in five had missed work or school due to period poverty.
In 2020, the government set up a program to provide free period products to schools, to help girls attend school, sports and cultural activities.
Sport Waikato has also recognized that menstrual poverty is a major barrier to girls’ participation, and in 2021, through their It’s ME Campaign, they began offering workshops and free menstrual products, including leak-proof underwear care from New Zealand brand AWWA. I really wish these types of clothes were available when I was younger, playing on a boys cricket team, in a white uniform.
There is also the historical societal (and cultural) stigma that accompanies menstruation. In a sociological framework, sport was created by men, for men’s bodies and interests, with many practices designed for men – such as fitness standards – still being applied to women today.
Fortunately, there is great work being done by Dr. Stacey Sims and the WHISPA team partnered with High Performance Sport NZ to take this conversation forward, from what a cycle can look like, to how we can optimize it to get the most out of our bodies while exercising.
They don’t hesitate to do it, and neither does Lydia Ko. Neither should you, no matter who you are – mom, dad, coach, player, whoever.
As Ko said “it’s honesty”, so it’s time to be honest and talk about it. Period.