Laura Robinson, an ex-pro cyclist who retired in 1993, recently authored
her latest work, Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality (Harper Collins
The response from mainstream media has been fabulous,
according to Robinson. The book was launched on May 14 in Toronto, and will
continue to be released at book launches across the country.
Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality is a stimulating read for
anyone who rides a bike, participates in sport, and cares about the world
they live in. Robinson examines issues that are often not spoken about
openly, but are hidden behind closed doors and within private boardrooms.
However, all of these issues affect athletes on a daily basis, and in so
many ways: from the amount of time we spend watching a Leafs’ game, to the
newspapers we read, to the prize money we win at the finish line.
Black Tights takes a closer look at the issues surrounding the
ethics of sport, sponsorship, coach-athlete relationships, sexual abuse and
harassment within sport, eating disorders, gay and lesbian athletes, and
athlete self-marketing. Robinson also discusses the standards of equity
surrounding prize money, salaries, sponsorship, and “ice-time” at
community, provincial, and national sports facilities. Woven into these
issues is how women’s sports are portrayed in the media, through newspapers
and television coverage, marketing, and advertising.
The statements throughout the book seem harsh at first, if only
because of the blunt manner in which they are presented. However, all of
Robinson’s statements are backed up by solid facts and thorough, extensive
research. While the issues are global in scope, she often uses Canadian
athletes in her examples, bringing these issues closer to home! Canadian
cycling stars Karen Strong, Alison Sydor, Clare Hall-Patch, and past
Canadian National coach Des Dickie, among others, are mentioned. The issues
examined relate not only to women in sport, as the book’s title would
suggest, but to all athletes involved in sport.
Robinson does a good job of informing the reader of the “world”
around them, revealing the truth surrounding tough situations and issues
that are often hidden behind closed doors or spoken about in hushed
whispers. She points out that at times when you are very involved in
something (such as cycling or other sports), it is easy to lose perspective
on certain realities. Black Tights gives the reader a “reality” check!
If you’re looking for a book that is going to make you think, make
you examine the world around you, and make you ask even more questions,
then add Black Tights to your list. As a cyclist, an athlete, or spectator,
these issues affect you!
For further reading, Robinson will be releasing a new book in
spring 2003 entitled Grrreat Grrrls: Great Canadian Athletes Who Just
Happen to be Girls. It contains biographies of 15 young female athletes who
have made a positive difference while competing in their sports.
Robinson has competed in cycling since 1974, winning several medals
at both provincial, and national-level events. Before retiring, she raced
on national development team projects. She left the competitive
professional side of the sport in 1993. Although she doesn’t train as much
as she used to, Robinson still competes in at least one bike race a year
and at various cross-country ski events for fun.
Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality, by Laura Robinson, Harper
Collins Publishers Ltd., $32.95.