Moral policing in sports: Women protest against young girls wearing shorts to table tennis club, shut down practice
After the recent moral-policing episode in Kolkata where a group of people beat up a couple for hugging inside a metro, another similar incident has yet again rocked the state of West Bengal. This time, the reason for protest is the attire of young female table tennis players.
On Wednesday, as per reports in the local media, a group of 10-15 angry women barged into the premises of a local sports club in Shibpur, Howrah while a practice session was going on. Seemingly, they were unhappy with the young girls coming to training in shorts and T-shirts. The protest left the young table tennis enthusiasts and coaches in shock.
The women started using indecent language and even pulled down some of the fences around the tables. When they refused to back down despite several requests, the club authorities were forced to shut down for the day.
"Very young kids, all aged between 8-12, come to learn and play table tennis in our small club. What happened on Wednesday, in front of those little kids, is shameful. It shocked everyone here and eventually, we had to stop the practice session," the club's coach, Debashish Adhikari said to Sportskeeda.
According to Sukumar Adhikari, General Secretary of the Howrah District Association, West Bengal Table Tennis Association, the reason behind the protest was not the girls' attire, it was used only as an excuse.
"If you see, all table tennis players play wearing shorts, be it girls or boys. And not only table tennis, in every other racquet sports, girls play wearing shorts. Take a look at our Commonwealth Games medallists...From Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu to Manika Batra, Mouma Das, did you see anyone wearing full pants?," Sukumar told Sportskeeda.
"I don't think wearing shorts was the issue. It was just an excuse for the protest. It is an internal issue that led to protest... not political, but internal. The women who protested were not guardians, they were locals who are associated with the club. But I do not know, though, what exactly they wanted," he added.
It's shameful that at a time when the likes of Manika and Mouma are winning historic gold medals for India, at a time when the sport is finally gaining some popularity in the country, these incidents are happening. If this is the scenario at the grassroot level, how will young talent come through?