Friday, 9 April 2010

Masters Women Team Sprint. Time For the 21st C!

This is going to be a long post, just a forewarning, and in no way an apology. This topic warrants thorough discussion and analysis. On Wednesday, I read the CA Tech Regs regarding the Team Sprint at Masters’ Championships, as I am interested in getting a team together and entering next Saturday.

Na├»ve, ignorant me thought it would be simple. Ask a fellow trackie who has a similar approach to such events as I do (ie not too seriously!!) and is a similar speed, but has more endurance and we’ll enter on the day, as per the requirements. Because, of course, at all levels, all age categories, the Team Sprint for women consists of a 2 gal team over 2 laps.

But that’s where I am wrong. Currently, as the Tech Regs stand, for Masters Championships, the rules state:

(p58) Note 2: Team Sprint - Combined age of each team shall be no less the 135 years
1. There shall be a minimum field size of:
i. 6 starters for men’s category 1 to 5
ii. 6 starters for women’s category 1 – 4
iii. 4 starters for all other categories
2. If the field size is less than the above, categories shall be combined as per rule 3.65.03

And further, on p 59:

3.65.09 Team Sprint
1 The combined age of each team (which may include women) shall be
no less than 135 years, with each competitor’s age taken as the year
of birth shown on the licence. The team shall comprise riders only
from the same State/Association. There shall be no combining of
riders from different States/Associations, unless the Technical
Commission permits a composite team. A composite team should
only be allowed if there are insufficient competitors from a
State/Association to make up such a team having regard to the fact
that a team may be made up of different divisions and gender.

The rest of the referring Reg discusses how the event is practically run.

So let’s dissect this.

The minimum combined age: if the event was run “traditionally” then it would be impossible for a women’s team (of 2) to make the combined age requirement. But as the regulation stands, ALL teams, including women’s teams, must have 3 members.

How to compose that minimum combined age: As I read Note 2, a team can be composed of WMAS 1-4 or WMAS 5 and above. Men’s teams can be composed of MAS1-5 or MAS6 and above. I may be misreading this section of Note 2, as some of my colleagues have suggested this part of Note 2 applies to ALL events and not just the Team Sprint. If so, then this Note needs re-writing and to be made more clear.

But, if it does refer specifically to the Teams Sprint, it is actually impossible to present a women’s team of 3, combined age of 135 with ANY WMAS1 or 2, because the maths doesn’t work. Even if you have 2 x 48yr olds and 1 x 38 yr old, the total is 134. But as I said, I could be wrong in terms of what this bit of Note 2 is actually referring to.

Team composition:

“The combined age of a team (which may include women)…”

This wording indicates that the usual composition of a team is solely male, and consideration may be given to including women in that team. The Regs don’t explicitly state a team may be comprised solely of women (ie this is not the norm, male only is the baseline status quo from which the Reg has been written), nor does the event allow for a separate women’s category (unless Note 2 refers to the Team Sprint, when by proxy, there is an allowance for women to run separately). A combined gender team races against the men presumably. I am yet to see a combined gender team, let alone a specified category for combined gender teams.

I cannot imagine 2 guys, in their search for a third team member, asking a woman to be a part of the team, for two reasons. 1) to get a woman who would be able to race a comparable time to a male counterpart, you are looking at a WMAS1 or 2. This then causes issues with the 135 minimum combined age requirement. 2) ego factor. I do not believe there would be any men, who are prepared to put themselves and their money on the line in the very competitive Teams Sprint, who would be “willing” to include a woman in their team, whether to make up numbers or because that woman was actually fast enough to be competitive.

So that’s the nuts and bolts issue with the Tech Reg as it stands. But there is more. At every State, National and International Championship (ie CSV, CA and UCI) apart from Masters, the womens’ team sprint consists of a two woman team and is raced over two laps. There is NO provision in the CA Tech Regs for a masters women’s team sprint to be run according to a “normal” women’s team sprint. At Masters, it must be run as per the men’s team sprint. Now I have my own issues with the UCI cutting racing distances for women. Cycling is one of the very few sports where women do NOT compete over the same distances, or in the same circumstances as men. Unless you are a masters female cyclist doing the team sprint.

Normally I wouldn’t complain. However, there is a HUGE issue with numbers in Masters women racing. Quite simply it is incredibly difficult to get together a team of 3, and have a field of more than 3 teams at a Masters competition. If teams were allowed to comprise two women, as per the standard format, then the field would be bigger and therefore more competitive.

So by increasing the number of members per team, it effectively reduces the size of the field, which then appears as though there is a lack of interest and depth of field, in the event. Some women just cannot find a third person for their team. There is currently the option to include a man in the team, to make up the third member, but that creates issues of its own. 1) It would be easier to find a third woman than a man willing to be the third rider ie damn near impossible and 2) part of the issue is currently not having a distinct, correctly run women’s team sprint. By including a man in the team to make up numbers to be eligible to race as the rules currently stand, is politically shooting yourself in the foot. The point of this discussion is to develop an argument for having a separate women’s team sprint, run according to current UCI/CA women teams sprint rules.

So as it stands, the current Tech Reg that facilitates women competing in a team sprint event at Masters Championships can readily be shown to be sexist, discriminatory, ageist and prohibitive for women, and women’s only teams. There is a token effort at inclusiveness “(which may include women)” (p58) which is insulting to say the least. There is no need for this wording, and it could be readily replaced with less offensive, more positive wording such as combined gender teams are eligible to compete.

My desired outcomes from all of this are:

1) Separated men’s/women’s/combined team sprint categories
2) Revised minimum combined age restrictions: over 135 and under 135 for men and combined teams of 3 members; over and under 90 for women.
3) Women’s team sprint to be run as per the current rules for UCI/CA women’s team sprint
4) A rewording of the tech regs 3.65.06 and 3.65.09 to be clearer, remove sexist references, and to include the above three points.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ha ha ! brilliant :-)
I'm a lady master rider in the UK & thought I'd like to try and find team sprint partners for the masters - just for fun you know.

But I think the same regs apply here combined age over 135 - So given my age both my team mates would need to be over 50 ... Stoopid.

Enjoy reading your blog - good luck for the masters comp :-)