inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #0 of 66: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Tue 11 Dec 07 09:48
    
Our next guests are the authors of a new book on girls, boys, sports, their
place in society, and, especially, the fruits of Title IX legislation, Laura
Pappano and Eileen McDonagh. Their book, published by Oxford University
Press, is titled, *Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in
Sports*.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #1 of 66: Bruce Umbaugh (bumbaugh) Tue 11 Dec 07 09:51
    
Laura Pappano is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times,
The Boston Globe, and many other publications. She is writer-in-residence at
The Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. At 13, she was the
only girl on her Danbury News-Times Carrier League baseball team and in 1978
was the only other female besides her sister (now a medievalist scholar) on
the New Milford, CT town soccer team. She played varsity field hockey at
Yale and has played recreational coed softball, basketball, tennis, and
touch football. On Thanksgiving, she scored two touchdowns in the
neighborhood football game and would have scored another if her daughters
hadn't committed a holding penalty.

Co-author Eileen McDonagh is a professor at Northeastern University and a
Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Qualitative Science at Harvard
University. She is the author of Breaking the Abortion Deadlock.

Helping to facilitate the conversation is longtime Well member, Janet Hess.

Welcome, you three!

Let me start things, if I may, with a request for the big picture. What's
the short-attention-span version of your thesis in *Playing With Boys*?
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #2 of 66: Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Tue 11 Dec 07 14:06
    
Great to be here, Bruce. The brief version of our thesis is that 1)
sports matter -- not just as mere entertainment but as a key path to
political, social, and economic power in our society 2) that sports are
the most sex-segregated institution in our society -- more
sex-segregated than the military and 3) oh, by the way, the sex-typed
rule differences, play differences, status differences don't reflect
actual physical differences between males and females (of course there
are differences!) but RATHER, CONSTRUCT sex differences. The result is
that male athletics operate as the "standard" and female athletics as
the lesser version. Sports, we argue, are a tool for equality. The
problem is that inequities are so pervasive as to appear completely
normal -- and acceptable. We think it's time to challenge the status
quo (apologies for the slight HSM ref. here).
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #3 of 66: Janet Hess (gertiestn) Wed 12 Dec 07 01:44
    
Hi to Laura and Eileen. And you, too, Bruce, now as I think on it.

What a wide ranging, interesting book! It deals with simple stuff like
politics, history, gender, class, race, sexuality, economics, power.
Oh, and sports, too. I think you present a compelling case that the
time has come to look at and challenge the way we think about sports.

I'm 59 and therefore decidedly pre-Title IX. Probably because there
was so little available before Title IX for girls and women who were
drawn to sports, I've thought of Title IX as a major step toward
equality in sports. So I was especially taken by the chapter heading
you've used in your discussion of Title IX: Old Norms in New Forms.
Could you discuss how Title IX, in permitting sex segregation, really
doesn't help female althletes who want to "play with the boys"?
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #4 of 66: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 12 Dec 07 11:31
    

(NOTE: Offsite readers with comments or questions may have them added to
this conversation by sending email to <inkwell@well.com> )
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #5 of 66: Eileen McDonagh (e-mcdonagh) Wed 12 Dec 07 12:49
    
Hi, Janet,

the way we look at it, there are four stages to reaching equality: (1)
the subordinate group is prohibited from participating with the
dominant group in education, work, sports, even voting -- this was true
for women before Title IX -- there simply is no play sports at all.
(2) the second stage is segregated opportunities -- sports teams
segregated by race or sex, for example. Title IX was important because
it set-up a system of sports for women, though on a legally coercive
sex-segregated basis. (3) the third stage is integration of the
subordinate group with the dominant group. In 1954, for example, in
Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that "separate is
not equal" in educational institutions in the context of racial
segregation. This launched a social and political movement to
de-segregate society in order to have more racial equality, a process
that is still going on today. OUr book argues that this is the next
step that needs to be taken with women and sports. Yes, Title IX was a
good step in providing sports opportunities for girls, but on a
sex-segregated basis. We need to continue the process by establishing
sex integration in sports programs. (4) the fourth and last stage is
giving the subordinate the option for voluntary, self-segregation on
the grounds that this is a way to make up for a history of
discrimination and perhaps a discomfort among some in the subordinate 
group when it comes to competing directly with the dominant group. So,
for example, colleges like Wellesley and Smith give those girls who
wish, on a voluntary basis, to self-segregated, to do so. However,
previously male educational institutions, like Harvard, are now co-ed,
and should be.

so, Title IX is an important, but hardly sufficient, step in the right
direction.

Eileen 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #6 of 66: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Wed 12 Dec 07 17:43
    
Can you, for the benefit of those following along who have *not* had the
good fortune to read the book yet, bit by bit unpack 1 through 4?

Just starting historically, reading your book, Laura and Eileen, impressed
on me the state of things for adolescent and college-age women in the days
before Title IX. My mother taught P.E. for years, and her stories about her
early years, teaching that mutant basketball game that was three on three on
each half of the court (that none of the fragile things would wear
themselves out), knocked me over. So, it's not as though there were (no*
play sports for women, but they weren't readily recognizable as the sports
that men played.

Can you tell use more about the state of things then, either of you?

(And the tale of the U Cal v. Stanford game, with the men trying to sneak in
to watch, is probably worth retelling here, too.)
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #7 of 66: Janet Hess (gertiestn) Thu 13 Dec 07 01:37
    
(An aside: Surely I'm not the only person who read the book while
thinking about how much Condoleezza Rice wants to be the NFL
Commissioner when she, um, grows up.)
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #8 of 66: Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Thu 13 Dec 07 05:08
    
Glad you brought up the history piece because it's absolutely the
behind-the-scenes driver that has shaped where we are today. The short
version is that organized sport -- starting post Civil War -- was a way
to men to display their masculinity (there was all sorts of worry in
the late 1800s that men were getting "soft" and, well, that's where
football came in). At the same time, female play had to be
appropriately "feminine" because at that time it was widely held that
the very future of society depended on men and women occupying
"separate spheres." Women could play, but only in "protected" settings
-- often that could men play in country clubs or (more widely) it meant
that rules were created that would limit female play and keep women
from over-exerting themselves (recall that we're in the age of the
frail female who was to rest during her period). That's why in 1902 the
US Lawn Tennis Association voted to limit female play in tennis to 2
out of 3 sets. What is so interesting about that time is that women
were performing stunning feats -- walking hundreds of miles, for
example, during the pedestrian craze. But when it came to say
basketball (probably the most popular sport for women at the turn of
the century) there was deep concern that it was too "mannish." At a
game at Smith College, females were so aggressive that observers
worried that their "manly play" would -- yipes! -- make them take on
male characteristics. That's why you go all those rules restricting
women to regions of the court, limiting bounces, prohibiting a player
from interfering with a shooter (isn't that what the NCAA or WNBA is
all about now??) THe Berkeley-Stanford game was the first college game
(1896) and I came across a news account of the game written a few days
after the event. What struck me was -- not only the huge turnout of 700
fans plus the males who were not allowed but trying to sneak in
through passageways and peak from the roof of the Paige Street Armory
-- but the preparation. For weeks prior to the game, the women had to
eat a special table where their nutrition could be monitored. The game,
of course, was not a score-fest. Stanford won 2-1. And a footnote: the
two teams split the gate receipts. Stanford built a track for women
but Berkeley's money went "toward defraying the expenses of the
athletic team (male) on it's approaching Eastern tour." There's an
example of women's sports funding men's sports!
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #9 of 66: Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Thu 13 Dec 07 05:16
    
Oh and glad you brought up Condi Rice...I'm glad she's put it out
there that she wants the NFL commissioner's job someday. We ought to
have women running the league (women are now 30 percent of NFL
viewership) -- and as referees. You don't have to be built like an
offensive lineman to throw a yellow flag.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #10 of 66: Lisa Everitt (lisa) Thu 13 Dec 07 06:45
    
I'm 48 and my personal trainer is 36. We were talking about participation
in high school sports and I mentioned Title IX. To my astonishment, she
had never heard of it.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #11 of 66: Eileen McDonagh (e-mcdonagh) Thu 13 Dec 07 06:58
    
yes,

let's get women on the playing field as umpires and referees, at
least. The referees for the Super Bowl, for example, are not
necessarily former football players, and women's relatively lower
weight and shorter height compared to men is not a handicap for being a
referee. The public needs to see women in positions of authority in
sports arenas, and what better image than a woman throwing a flag and
telling a 300 lb, 6' 4+" linebacker he is offsides.

Eileen 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #12 of 66: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 13 Dec 07 07:07
    
There are some female umpires in baseball's minor leagues, I believe. 

Ah, yes, here's a news story from 2006 on the MLB.com site about Ria
Cortesio, who umps at the double-A level:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060709&content_id=1549670&vkey=allst
ar2006&fext=.jsp

My daughter would love to be a baseball umpire in the major leagues.
She'd be a good one, too. Shouting men don't intimidate her at all. But
right now she's in the entertainment biz. 

While we're discussing female participation as umps and refs, there's
no reason at all why a woman couldn't be a coach or manager, either. 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #13 of 66: Lisa Everitt (lisa) Thu 13 Dec 07 11:09
    
How does this change come about, though? My sense from reading the book is 
that even though girls and women are allowed to compete against men these 
days, they don't generally choose to, and when you read the stories about 
what those rare women go through, you understand why.

I thought it was interesting that you noted New Mexico kicker Katie Hnida
for being the first woman to play, and later score, in Div. 1A football
(pg. 73).  You didn't mention that before Katie Hnida played for UNM, she
played two seasons for the University of Colorado, and during the CU
sex/recruitment scandals a few years back, came forward to report that she
was one of many women (mostly on the athletics staff, or student trainers)
who had been abused, fondled and/or harrassed by football players. In
Katie Hnida's case, she was raped.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/writers/rick_reilly/02/16/hnida/

Coach Gary Barnett told the media she deserved what she got because she 
inserted herself into the game, "and not only was she a girl, she was 
terrible, OK?" He said the guys would have respected her if she had had 
football skills.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Central/02/18/colorado.football/

My response is, "Who needs that?" I would advise my daughter the same.  
There are plenty of other opportunities for women to play, get fit, be
part of a team, earn scholarships and make a living in athletics. Why put 
yourself in a position to be as badly damaged, at a young age, as Katie 
Hnida was?
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #14 of 66: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Thu 13 Dec 07 18:34
    
Croquet is the one sport I know that doesn't discriminate on the basis
of sex (or age, for that matter). 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #15 of 66: Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Fri 14 Dec 07 05:54
    
Lisa -- You raise an important point. I absolutely remember the CU
scandal and Barnett's comments about Hnida (which were absurdly off
point) And it's true -- it can be uncomfortable for girls who play with
boys and for boys who play with girls. Last week, a school athletic
director pointed out that after a boy was beaten by a girl in
wrestling, the other boys beat him up in the locker room and called him
a sissy. Their solution: Separate the sexes. I'd say rather than
separate the sexes, we need to address the behavior. It's not all right
to beat up, rape, attack other players -- whatever their gender (or in
some settings, sexual orientation). Enforcing fair play on and off the
field among teams and teammates is of critical importance. I know your
instinct as a parent is to keep your daughter from the potential
negatives of co-ed play. But there is also unfortunate behavior on the
field in same sex play.

When it comes to girls and boys playing together, we need to normalize
relations. There are more coed leagues and opportunities for play
today, but in so many cases they continue to enforce sex differences
(sometimes subtly sometimes baldly) rather than consider first skill
differences or experience. A few weeks ago I registered my son online
for youth soccer in town. At the top of the registration page in a
black box there is a warning in red type: It says "If you are
attempting to register a daughter, please be aware that Newton Youth
Soccer is co-ed, but primarily boys." It follows up with information
and a link to the girl's team. Now I don't think the people running
this league truly want to keep out girls. But the message to girls is
pretty clear: you really shouldn't play in this league. You don't
belong. I think that sort of message hurts a whole lot.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #16 of 66: put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Fri 14 Dec 07 07:08
    
My son plays travel youth hockey and has for 5 years. Every year
except this one he's had 1 or more girls playing on his team (two years
ago 25% of th team). He's a pee wee level and nearly every team we
play has girls on the team; often amongst the best pleyers since as we
all know middle school girls usually get their growth quicker than boys
and their general coordination, i.e. skating skills are higher. That
more girls don't play is largely their own choice.  By bantom and
midget levels 13-16 years old, the teams become segregated and girls
generally go off to playing girls only leagues. Most likely because of
the physical aspects of the game become more intense. I don't think any
girl who could complete at a high level would be discougaged in any
way (this being california and  not Canada, filling rosters is always
hard).

There is also girls teams v. boys teams competition but the boys hate
it. When they schedule a game of say pee wee boys against a girls team
they'll make it a pee wee (11 and 12 year old) boys v. girs 16 and
under. they alter the rules to not allow checking to supposedly protect
the girls, however the girls mostly have  6" to 10" in height and 30
to 40 lpbs on most of the boys.  The games are almost always won by the
girls as being older and faster and checking being taking out as a
strategy, the games become one-sided. Not fun for anyone. 

Adn yes, there are plenty of girls/women reffing in hockey. It's all
about speed, experience and judgement. 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #17 of 66: Lisa Everitt (lisa) Fri 14 Dec 07 09:39
    
I agree we need to address "the behavior" -- i.e. the culture of macho
stupidity that shows up over and over, especially in professional and
upper echelon college athletics. We have come a long way, granted, but I
don't expect to see the end of sexist crap in my lifetime. Some of it is 
"uncomfortable" and some of it is abusive and damaging. I would advise 
young women to pick their battles accordingly.

I put in time in newsrooms beginning in the late 1970s, so I lived a
version of this story -- including a newspaper environment in 1991 where
the sports department interns were running roughshod, sending lewd
anonymous messages to female staff. When I complained (I was the business
editor), they started in on me with crap like "Your tits sag." I was
management, they were interns. Guess who got told to lighten up?

The most discouraging part of the whole sex/recruitment scandal at CU was
how the female president of the university scrambled to protect the
football program. The most infamous moment came when she told the press 
(or the board of regents) that she thought "cunt" was a term of 
endearment, based on her work as a Chaucer scholar.

It was just too awful.

A different president of the university settled the primary lawsuit last 
week for $3 million.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #18 of 66: Janet Hess (gertiestn) Fri 14 Dec 07 10:07
    
You mean "cunt" _isn't_ a term of endearment?
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #19 of 66: put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Fri 14 Dec 07 10:53
    
maybe in Glasgow or parts of Edinburgh. 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #20 of 66: Janet Hess (gertiestn) Fri 14 Dec 07 11:52
    
Robin has it right about croquet; Laura and Eileen include in their
book an 1875 engraving showing a group of men and women playing croquet
indoors.  

And Lisa's points about macho stupidity are good ones. I don't want to
trumpet "You've come a long way, baby," but it can be easy to forget
how much has changed in this country in a fairly short time. Just the
other night, I found myself remembering that my own mother was born
only five years after (white) women got the vote. One of the things I
like most about the book is the rich historical context that Eileen and
Laura give.
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #21 of 66: What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Fri 14 Dec 07 13:42
    
Yeah, it's one of the doubly puzzling things with <old fogey voice, I guess>
"young people today." </voice> My students tend both to suppose that all
those nasty old problems of prejudice have been fixed now, and also to
underestimate dramatically how different things were just a couple of
decades before they were born. Funny, in a way, that they do both.

Could one of you say a little more about the discussion in the book
comparing the issue of sex segregation in youth sports with the debates
about "mainstreaming" and how that concept would apply to athletics
programs in the schools?
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #22 of 66: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 14 Dec 07 14:15
    
The term sexual dimorphism is used to delineate the size differential
between the male and female of a species.  For example, with baboons,
the female is, on average, 50% the size of the male.  The female simian
ape is 100% the size of the male.  With human beings the female is 90%
the size of the male. The same applies roughly to strength and speed
and jumping, too.

This is not to say that the largest female human is not considerably
bigger than the smallest male, but in the world of sports where games
like basketball favor the tallest, football the biggest, fasted, etc.,
the idea of "equal" must inherently factor in this fact of biology. 
This is why womens and mens sports evolved separately. Across a
competitive field, they will rarely be equal and the best males will
outperform the best female athletes.

This is a completely different perspective than the one that says that
girls should have every opportunity to play sports with equivalent
conditions and opportunities as the boys have.   
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #23 of 66: Eileen McDonagh (e-mcdonagh) Fri 14 Dec 07 18:27
    
Mainstreaming -- the idea about mainstreaming is that it benefits the
disadvantaged and the advantaged to be together in the same educational
setting as much as possible. segregating students in order to deal
with "special" needs is the last resort, not the first, and ideally
only done in conjunction with integrated classroom settings. 

The application to athletics would be to have sex integration in
sports as the first principle. Sex integration would be the norm, and
special teams for girls would be added as the exception to meet  the
special needs of those girls who do not feel comfortable playing with
the boys. 

Eventually, the goal would be to have coed teams at various levels of
skill with the caveat that it would still be permissible to designate
some sport experiences for girls only, for those girls who wish to
segregate themselves voluntarily. 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #24 of 66: Ludo, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Fri 14 Dec 07 20:33
    
Any room for boys who wish to segregate themselves voluntarily? Its
possible that some boys may not feel comfortable playing with girls. 

Would there be acceptable/unacceptable reasons for any segregation?

Could there be segregation by sexual preference?

BTW, I like the idea of the advantaged and the disadvantaged being
together.  How far can we go in combating self-segregation? 
  
inkwell.vue.315 : Laura Pappano and Eileen McDonagh, "Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports"
permalink #25 of 66: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 14 Dec 07 21:02
    
<*Playing With the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in
Sports*>

Why, with this title, do you conflate the "separate but not equal"
issue stemming from the racial prejudice in the pre-Civil Rights era
with the Post-Title IX state of sports in contemporary American
society? Your implication serves to unfairly sensationalize a "problem"
that you suggest exists in sports today.  My athletic, 50-year-old
sister had few opportunities to play sports in Junior and Senior High.
That was unfair and sexist. My 7th grade stepdaughter is currently
flourishing on her girls volleyball team. She is learning the values of
team play, and performing well. That's progress and a problem solved! 
I'm not convinced that she would be thriving as well on a mixed sex
team, but it's great that she has the opportunity to play sports on an
all-but-equal program in her middle school. 

Also, your suggestion for integrated sports should imply that if a
high school interscholastic basketball team is allowed twelve players,
and equal tryouts are opened to boys and girls, then the talent would
be fairly evaluated.  With post-pubescent kids (because of sexual
dimorphism), it will be the exceptional girl that makes the team. What
you want, though, is not this equality, but a different configuration
in the sport itself.  Creating coed leagues is not creating equality,
but a different competitive sport. There may be a healthy benefit in
having more interscholastic co-ed leagues, but not as a substitute for
single gender sports. Your argument, today, that we have a "separate,
but not equal" environment fails to acknowledge the fact that
post-pubescent males and females, athletically, will never be equal,
and, therefore, deserve separate opportunities to excel.      
 

<Sports, we argue, are a tool for equality.>

Even within the same sex, competitive sports are inherently designed
to create inequalities.  Every game or match results in a winner and
loser.  Leagues generate champions. The very best athletes are rewarded
with scholarships. The sporting event differentiates the participants
by athletic ability. You seem to be conflating your desired social
outcomes with something that, intrinsically, sports do not do.  


<sex integration in sports as the first principle>

OK, then own up to the fact that to make such integration equal for
both males and females, you favor social engineering of the sport.  


<(of course there are differences!)>, you state.  Yet, I fail to see
how you are honoring those wonderful differences for BOTH genders.
  

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