Exposed: Formal sexism in Cambridge Korfball


Blues blues committees Cambridge Feminism korfball sexism sexism in sport Sport Varsity women's blues committee

Institutional sexism is ripping through that well-known sport, Korfball.

Here’s how I found out…

This week I went to try out Korfball and loved it: it is a fast paced energetic sport and great fun. It involves two teams of eight players with four women and four men on court all the time. It’s easy to pick up for anyone who has played basketball or netball before, but the real selling point of the sport is the inclusiveness that comes with it. While this may sound like sport that champion’s equality in Cambridge, the Blues Committees clearly disagree.

Seems very equal to me

Korfball is only one of three mixed sports in Cambridge in which players can achieve either Full or Half Blue status. But even though players play on the exact same team the requirements for a half blue are different.

Men on the team only need to start in the Varsity Match whereas women need the team to finish 8th or higher in BUCS (British University and College Sport) as well as start in the varsity match to earn their half-blue.

The Cambridge University Korfball team last year finished 11th in BUCS which meant any women on the team did not qualify for a half blue whereas men did. This is a clear case of institutional sexism on behalf of the blues committees as it should never be the case that women and men on the same team who play in all the same matches do not get the same recognition by the university, but in Korfball that is exactly what is happening.

Shame only half of them are Half Blues

The status of Korfball is up for review today on the Cambridge Women’s Blues Committee. The Korfball President has not yet formally asked for change: the Women’s Committee want to keep the requirements high.

Is the price of inequality really worth it?

The Cambridge Women’s Blues Committee argues Blues status should not purely be awarded for participation in the Varsity match but should also be conditional on a certain level of achievement.

They say standards for men should be raised instead of lowering the standard for the women.

Many feel the value of a Blue or Half Blue has decreased in recent years due to a lowering of standards. There is clearly a need here for greater cooperation between the Committees, as in this case the first priority needs to be equality. Only after this standard has been reached should the Committees look into the issue of changing the requirements for Half Blue status. There have been many debates in recent years about whether or not equal status should be afforded to sports like rugby and football. In those cases I can see both sides of the argument. Here however there is no debate to be had, the players on this team deserve to be rewarded equally for an equal level of play. The fact that the committees have not already rectified this issue is absolutely appalling. Many members of the Korfball team expressed that they felt it was an incredibly unfair system with the current President saying, “It’s pretty scandalous that our boys are half blues and our girls aren’t when they couldn’t even play the game without us.”

This is all they’d be doing if the girls didn’t play

But despite all this there is no division within the team itself. They are a very close knit group which is also very inclusive to new members.

Go and try it: one of the great up and coming sports in Cambridge. Their Varsity Match this year is held in Cambridge on the 21st of February.

Who knows? Will all the players on court have Half Blues by then?