Mar 1, 2002
Comments on Brian Lopes MBA Mag interview
Location : Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When mountain bike legend, Brian Lopes, criticized female riders in the Mountain Bike Action magazine, March 2002 interview, I was in disbelief.
- "I don't think it is fair that the girls get paid the same as the guys when there is third the number of girls...whose fastest qualifying time couldn't beat the slowest qualifying man"
Mountain Bike Action magazine
I just bought my copy of MBAction's March issue (my fav mag) and started reading an interview on Brian Lopes. To those yet unfamiliar to the name, Brian Lopes is a 'former BMX-champion-turned-mountain-bike-racer who also won the World Cup Dual Series'. I've long admired this fellow and felt that he has made a significant contribution to mountain biking. It was with excitement that I started reading the interview. It was going well until he uttered those 2 lines that I hope will haunt him 'til his remaining years as mountain biking's tarnished icon.
Building a Perfect World for Brian
I can understand when he said the promoters can't build a course to his specs because 'the girls can't ride them'. But when he started putting the blame on the women, my jaw just fell. I have an idea...why don't we just ban all female riders altogether in order to please Brian? Better yet, why don't we cap the top prize for female winners not to exceed a third of the men's? Music to your ears, Brian? In the same way he respects his own limits, why can't he respect the fact that gender also has its own uniqueness?
You might be wondering where I'm coming from all this. Two things:
- Secondly, mountain biking as a sport has grown to what it has become in part due to increased participation of the female riders. Gallant bike companies like Specialized and Gary Fisher have welcomed that growth and have developed gender-specific mountain bikes to accommodate our female brethren. I know too many female riders out there who have built a good name for mountain biking and have commanded my admiration and respect. They certainly don't deserve Brian's female-bashing machismo essentially relegating women as second class citizens of the sport.
Brian Lopes, know this: as good as you are, you're not bigger than mountain biking.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
In one respect I do agree with Brian somewhat. I do not think there is any doubt that there is a difference in the level of athletic performance between males and females. Designing course to do double duty for both male and female racers can be a problem. Brian has not expressed himself well in this respect because to say that women are holding back the sport is asinine. However, I do believe there could be some wisdom in there being courses designed with a level of difficult to challenge the best male riders. This is not to exclude the women either. If the female riders wish to tackle these higher difficulty courses then they should be welcomed to compete.
I do not however agree with Brian in terms of the money they earn. It should be equal across the board for similar events. The fact that there are less women or their times are slower is irrelevent. Everybody who is competing deserves the same rewards for pushing the boundries of the sport in their respective domains.
Although what Brian said about women holding back the progress of DH and DS mountain biking courses may not be popular or "politically correct" he is in fact dead on. Women atheletes just don't have the body weight and strength of their male counterparts and subsequently cannot huck as big or go as fast. This is not a put-down or lack of respect for women atheletes it is just a fact. Any of the top competing women could and would certainly kick my ass in any discipline in the mountain biking world, but I am not claiming to be a world class athelete. Mr. Lopes's words may have been a little rough around the edges but he expressed feelings that even most women cannot dispute. The top level men blow the top level women away and that's just how it is. You wouldn't put the world's best female boxer in the ring with Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson, so why should the elite men riders have the development of their sport held back by the differences in male and female physiology which just cannot be disputed.
P.S. I love women. Particularly fast ones.
I agree with you, Steve that women are not as fast or powerful as the male riders. I believe that part is not under dispute. There's a flaw in the industry (promoter? organizers?) that keeps the men from competing from "blow-your-doors-off" tracks. But for Brian to blame the women for that predicament simply doesn't add up, much less to cap prize money for them.
(Mar 10, 2002) Brian's a got a point. I totally agree with him. Just look at the WNBA. Would you fork out the same amount of money to see women play basketball? Why not lower the nets to make it easier for them? Or how about a female NHL? This is not a gender issue, it is a supply and demand issue. I want to see the best riders on the best courses. If a woman can go as fast on the same course than I would want to watch her ride. It is about the riding, not whether or not it's a man or a woman doing the riding. Get off your soapbox and go for a ride. It sounds like you need to prioritize.
I agree with Brian's sentiments. The Women should have their own thing where dual slalom is concerned. They are holding the sport back strictly because in general, they are physically weaker than most men. But I for one happen to like watching them race, just not along-side, men.
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