UPDATE: Feministing got the full rankings and found out there are actually two horses in the AP’s top 10 female athletes of 2009. Really!
First off, well done to Serena Williams, named best female athlete of the year by the Associated Press.
Unfortunately, the wire’s choice for the second best female athlete this year… is a horse.
The real head-scratcher, and a possibly offensive result, is that a horse finished second.
The filly Zenyatta capped a 14-0 career by becoming the first female horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
That’s terrific, but is it really deserving of second place in a year where there were definitely some strong female, human candidates?
CBC goes on to talk about how another horse has previously entered in at 6th male athlete of the year, so it’s not unprecedented for an animal to be included, but frankly I do think it’s a bit offensive.
The votes are cast by editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. In a 2010 world, are they even a relevant group, demographically or professionally, to be picking female athlete of the year?
I don’t know the answer to that, but the voting in recent years seems to suggest otherwise.
Interestingly CBC also talks about how nationalistic the awards are – apparently the last non-US athlete to win one of these was Ben Johnson in 1987. It’s hard to think that’s an accurate reflection of world athletic prowess.
All this ties into Natalie’s feature for us this week about sexism in sports coverage in this country.