"Amateur sports competition shows are part intense athletics and part corny game show but usually tremendously entertaining," says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. "The Titan Games, The Challenge, Ultimate Beastmaster and American Ninja Warrior, all featuring challenging obstacle courses, have proved to be popular, particularly during the pandemic, when sports were on hold. But are these shows good for women? Do they exalt their athletic prowess, redefining popular notions of women’s capabilities, or do they perpetuate condescending stereotypes, giving women a demeaning pat on the head and plastic participation trophy? Here’s why it matters. Popular culture has the power to amplify disparity or extinguish it, and TV shows perpetuate prejudice when they spread demeaning stereotypes. The more often these stereotypes appear, the more people feel their biases are justified. A study of descriptions of Black quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft section of the Sports Illustrated website between 1998 and 2007 showed that Black quarterbacks were lauded for their athleticism but criticized for their athletes, they are not equal. Some are downright cringeworthy. Clearly, women and men are not physically the same. Men have superior upper-body strength, while women are able to process oxygen faster, giving them higher endurance. But TV shows don’t have time for endurance, they want to see swollen muscles and bulging neck veins. That’s why the obstacle courses on most of these shows are about power and speed, which favor men."