CIS’ Step Toward Gender Equity Not Enough

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Last week, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), now rebranded to U Sports, took a very slow, stumbling step, when it came to gender equality in running.

In fact, they didn’t just stumble, they flat out came up short, 2km short to be exact.

You see for years, at both the high school and University level, women have run shorter distances than men in cross country. At the high school level, senior girls (grade 11-12) run 5km, the same distance as grade 9 boys, while senior boys run 7km.

At the CIS level, women have run 6km, compared to mens 10km.

This past week, the CIS had an opportunity to rectify this inequality, but they came up short. The governing body off Canada’s University sport, voted to increase the women’s race to 8km, while leaving the mens race at 10km for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Why? I have no idea. “Luckily” for women, in 2019, the CIS/ U Sports will reexamine this issue again and either make the mens distance 8km, or the womens 10km. That means women runners everywhere will only have two more years of being unequal. Good job CIS, that makes sense. I guess you need two more years to feel ok about this, or to think about this, and in the process, are showing women that there actually is something to think about.

I mean it’s not like in the Boston Marathon women actually run 42km. They definitely wouldn’t be able to do that. It’s not like in all of those 10km races across the globe women actually finish the race. Obviously at the 6km, or 8km mark we can expect every woman to stop running. Right?

Good thing CIS is rebranding to U Sports. Perhaps the new brand will move away from the misogyny still being imposed on women athletes.

After all, it’s not like CIS’ own policies define equality as… “Equality means that all persons enjoy the same status regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, language, disability, income and other diversities. It means that all persons have equal conditions for realizing their full rights and potential and to benefit from the results.

Let’s just edit out gender. And equal conditions. And realizing their full potential. There…that’s better.

On a side note, congrats to all of the powerful, talented, strong women who competed in the CIS, OUA, OCAA, CCAA, and OFSAA cross country championships this week. Keep running, despite the fact your governing body is still telling you you can’t. Keep running. I hope that next year as you cross the finish line of whatever race you’re in, you protest by continuing on, by running the full 10km. Don’t let the rules that unjustly diminish your worth or ability as a human or athlete hold you back. Just keep running.

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