Belgian men’s goalball team departs for Finland for World Championships

The story on English Wikinews that I got published yesterday was Belgian men’s goalball team departs for Finland for World Championships .  Like other stories, this one was inspired by things I saw on Facebook.  There isn’t much being written about the world championships in the English language media, and trying to find some way to do that in a way that is newsworthy? PITA.  I went with the easiest solution to discuss an event that is supposed to have started yesterday but where the actual games do not start until June 30.  I found a team competing that posted something, anything, about going.  In this case, it was a selfie that basically said, “We’re at the airport!  Hi! We’re offer!” and ran with that.


Because there was so little information available elsewhere, because nothing had been written recently for most other teams, there is pretty much no information about other teams. :/  Sad for anyone else wanting to write about the competition before it starts who don’t have ins with the team because of a local.  We’ll see.


Goalball national team ranking

For a while, I have thought that I should think about contributing to Wikinews on one sport topic.  Establish a niche.  Go with it.  Demonstrate competency in that area.  Eventually, write a book about the topic.


Thus, recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about goalball.  It is a sport without a lot of media coverage.  It has the potential for a lot of stats.  There isn’t much there.  I could on my blog get a list of as many international games for the women’s national teams as possible and create a ranking system. (I’ve read a fair amount about that.  This is a great page.)  Then I decided bleep that, develop my own.  (Always the best response when you aren’t 100% certain of what you’re doing.)


I don’t have a full list and that needs to be fully developed.  But on the data I have: First thing: Lots of teams have not played recently.  Create a point system that rewards recent games. Games played in 2014 worth 14, Games played in 2013 worth 13, Games played in 2005 worth 5.  Games played in 2001 and before worth 1 point.  The more games you played, the more recently you played them, the more points you automatically have.  My rationale for this is that you have to have a team and be playing to possible be the best.


Second: Wins worth 10 points, ties worth 3 points, losses worth 1 point.  The high value of wins is to adjust for the high and low values of recentism points.


Third: Goals won by points.  If you win by 10 points, you get 10 points.  If you win by 5 points, you get 5 points. If you tie, 1 point. If you lose, no points subtraction.  This rewards high scoring teams. Tournament results not factored, but going deeper into a tournament automatically should give you more points.


I haven’t added every event to my database yet.  The only ones included are : 2003 IBSA World Championships and Games, 2005 IBSA Pan-American Games, 2006 FESPIC Games, 2007 IBSA Goalball European Championships, 2007 IBSA World Championships and Games, 2009 IBSA Goalball European Championships, 2010 IBSA European Championships Goalball Women B (partial), and 2013 IBSA Goalball European Championships. Based on the formula so far, the best women’s national goalball teams in the world are:

Team Points
Finland 634
Germany 543
Spain 501
Sweden 488
Ukraine 465
Great Britain 462
Russia 316
Denmark 311
Brazil 297
Turkey 290
Israel 278
Greece 264
Japan 257
China 142
Iran 141
Netherlands 106
South Korea 75
United States 75
Australia 67
Canada 46
Italy 40
Algeria 16
Hungary 11
Poland 11

Does the ranking sound right to people who follow the sport? Does the point ranking system seem like it makes sense? Is there a better and or easier way to do that?

Wikipedia’s selective gendering of national team article names

In an earlier post, I talked about how some articles are over represented when it comes to article’s about men’s versus women’s national teams.  I know from my own experiences that many articles about men’s national teams are gendered while women’s teams are not.

400 gendered men, 1800 ungendered

The graph above clearly shows this pattern. The majority of women’s article titles are gendered.  The majority of men’s national team articles are not.  Beyond totals, one way of understanding English Wikipedia’s systemic bias against women in sport is to look at what happens when there is a pair of articles about a country’s national team for a particular sport, with one article about the women’s team and one article about the men’s team. Softball, water polo, pitch and putt, lacrosse, inline hockey, floorball, goalball and wheelchair basketball national teams are pretty much all have titles indicating gender, even in situations where there is no match pairs.  Tennis articles consistently do not gender both genders.  Some countries defy traditional gender categorizing, including the United States and Canada, which are both more likely to gender indicate male teams for sports when almost every other country does not.

Before going into this analysis deeper, the group “Male – gendered, female – ungendered” never appears.  There were zero matched pairs where a male article contained the word men and the female article did not contain women. There is no systemic bias in terms of article titles that favour women.

This was done using the same list of national team articles.  It mostly relied on pulling article names from the categories for national teams on English Wikipedia. All articles on the resulting list were tagged as either being gendered because they contained the word “men” or “women” in the article title, or being “not gendered” because they did not contain  word “men” or “women” in the article title. Matched pairs of men’s and women’s teams were sought by country. As there is a much larger number of articles about men’s teams and some sports are more female oriented, the number of articles covered was not going to be equal. 836 matching pairs were found for 223 different countries and 28 different sports. The pairs were then labeled “Male – gendered, female – gendered”, “Male – gendered, female – not gendered”, or “Male – not gendered, female – not gendered”.

There were 517 instances of “Male – gendered, female – not gendered”, 200 instances of “Male – gendered, female – gendered”, and 119 instances of “Male – not gendered, female – not gendered”. (All 119 instances of neither gendered are tennis.)  Total, 61% of Wikipedia’s national team articles involve selective gendering favouring men. 29% of the time, selective gendering is not done.

As mentioned previously, this pattern changes from country to country and sport to sport.  In the case of Great Britain, Canada and United States, over 60% of the time, both teams are gender identified.  If we eliminate tennis’s neither gendering, Turkmenistan, Great Britain, Canada, Tiawan, Botswana, Puerto Rico, United States, Philippines, Czech Republic, Egypt, Mexico, and Venezuela all have more than 60% of their genderized pairs both having genderized titles.  The following countries have their matching pairs both being genderized between 50 and 60% of the time: Finland, Serbia, Australia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Peru.

Let me be clear: This looks yay! on some level, but it still sucks.  The number should be 100% of matching pairs either both including gender or neither article in a matched pair including gender.  Anything else is selective gendering of a national team article to the neutrality detriment of women.

Beyond country naming patterns, there is the sport naming patterns.  Nine sports genderized both men’s and women’s national team articles 100% of the time.  Those sports are Volleyball, Softball, Squash, Goalball, Lacrosse, Ice hockey, Water polo, Wheelchair basketball, and Australian rules.  This is absolutely fantastic, because the total articles involved are higher per sport than for most countries.  (Inline hockey is also high at 89% and floorball at 83%.  No other sports are above 31%.)  It also suggests the problem with systemic bias against women when it comes to articles titles is probably not entirely dependent on the nation but on the sport and its proponents involved in that sport’s Wikiproject.

But we also have the other side: Most sports have problems in that the selectively genderize women’s national team articles while choosing not to genderize men’s national teams articles.  The following sports have between 0% and 2% of their articles in that group: Handball, Soccer, Cricket, Rugby sevens, International rules, Baseball, Beach handball, Rugby league, Rugby union, Kabaddi, American football, and Bandy.  The remaining sports are field hockey at 30%, basketball at 20% and futsal at 14%.

And this is a problem because the sports that are violating Wikipedia’s neutrality policy by selectively genderizing one team over another to the benefit of promoting the men’s game through article title include 515 articles (total men not gendered, women gendered for sports where this represents 70% or more of the articles) compared to 175 for the first cohort (total men gendered, women gendered where this represents 83% or more of the article count).

None of the sports on the list of genderizing women but not genderizing men particularly surprise me.  These are sports where professionalism is dominated by men, some with high degrees of perceived violence or associated with male norms of masculinity.   By asking Wikipedia to enforce neutrality and stop selectively genderizing some articles, there is an implicit challenge to that male masculinity and male dominance in sport.

And that pattern appears unlikely to change, with Wikipedia selectively gendering those sports because, as I have been told before as a female editor, Wikipedia need not be be neutral and factual but should reflect the cultural norms in which it is written.

In the mean time, I ask that when you read a national team article, you look at the title and critically ask yourself about the gender found in the title.