Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Thu 20 Dec 07 12:43
(martyb) Thu 20 Dec 07 18:16
I have aquestion. My mother-in-law used to be a women's PE teacher at a university and for a while ran the athletic department. She was involved wiht Titke IX when it started. I was trying to decide whether she would like your book or find it aggravating (or both). I know that before Title IX she took all the women's field hockey uniforms home and washed them herself.) Have you gotten any particular reacions from people who were involved in women's collegiate sports back in the 60s and 70s? (I may get it for her as a gift anyway.)
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Thu 20 Dec 07 18:43
<<Plus, we've really got to look at Title IX. We're heading into BCS football season. How does this system -- with the millions of dollars flowing to participants and the ad hoc manner in which teams are selected to play -- how does this fall under Title IX? How does lopsided promotion of male so-called revenue-producing sports (they may bring in cash, but most lose money because they spend more than they make) fit in with Title IX?>> As a whole, college football and, to a lesser extent, men's college basketball are irrefutably huge "business" and the place where many universities gain enormous, if not the most, exposure for their institutions. University presidents are hired foremost for their fundraising acumen and connections, and most cozy up to those big money donors who give because of an enthusiasm for men's football or basketball. When you suggest that "most" men's football programs lose money, does this assertion factor into it the fundraising benefits accrued, or the potential that if the team does go to a bowl, the program may be very profitable that year? I've always been under the impression that, in most institutions, the revenues from these two sports subsidize the entire athletic departments. If so, then the implication of using Title IX and across-the-board equality between the genders to make all sports equal would, in the American system as it exists, kill this golden goose. Without such revenues, then athletic departments will be at the mercy of discretionary funding out of a school's highly competitive operating budget. All sports programs, male/female/co-ed would, in most cases, suffer. There is a purist argument that having institutions of higher learning involved in the crass big business of such money-making pursuits runs counter to the goals of academia. This, however, is a different argument than one that insists on equality of the sexes in sports. Title IX was enacted to create parity between male and female sports programs. Specifically, if a college or high school is to offer men's wrestling, then a woman's sport had to be offered, as well. Title IX was never intended to undermine the "profitable" aspects of collegiate sports, and, as you point out, this legislation helped make advances, but did not change many core societal attitudes towards males and females in sports. The BCS system, though flawed, is most certainly not "ad hoc." This gets back to the inherent INEQUALITY in sports as determined on an EQUAL playing field. No Div I football team with a sub .500 season is ever allowed to play in a bowl. Without a football playoff system there will always be fine-tuned arguments as to which are the two best teams to play in the national championship. However, even Notre Dame, with its 3-9 record this season, enormous following, profitability, and an independent TV contract, cannot leverage its way into the BCS or any bowl. The BCS system has its flaws, but is largely fair, and has nothing to do with gender inequality, except that it is a component of MEN's Div I, college football. You make many very strong points about how girls and boys are treated differently from a young age, and how opportunities in sports still differ unfairly. This, to me, is where your arguments and activism are much better focused than by attacking the "marketplace" of big money sports. Where your argument can exact the most realistic change for good is by continuing to insist that girls have more as-equal-as-possible-opportunities to experience the social and personal benefits of the athletic experience. Such experiences often benefit participant athletes, male and female, in a lifelong array of activities. The vast majority of athletes who directly benefit from sports participation are not at an elite level, so why attack this elite realm that is so oddly influenced by market phenomena? Likewise, using competitive sports to change the existing competitiveness of our society is inherently problematic. However, when you look at sports as an equal opportunity experience for the positive development of BOTH boys and our girls who must live in an inherently competitive society, then I believe the positive aspect of your message will continue to prevail.
Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Fri 21 Dec 07 14:14
Wow -- Lots here!! Steve, thanks for the posting. Individuals may have different preferences for co-ed play in different sports (or, if we're honest) with different individuals. I play co-ed tennis and love the tone of that play, UNLESS I get paired with this one guys who is just a jerk to play with. I like good competition and when I play with women who are excellent -- that's great too -- but HATE the culture of "Ladies Tennis." That's not the sport, that's not abilities, it's the culture that's grown up around the sports. This gets to Marty's question about his mom's involvement in collegiate sports in the 1960s and 1970s -- Good for her!! The women who staked out that ground did it at a time when female athletes had their femininity questioned, when their very participation was mediated so they would appear socially acceptable and not deviant (eg sports for women were about obtaining and improving social skills and health; sports for men were about competing and being star athletes). I credit the pioneers who pushed ahead in this system & understand how some today cannot imagine mixed sex play. The female sports were "pure" the male sports tainted by competition. Some aspects of the values embedded in women's sports of that era should be given space in today's more competitive (even cut throat) landscape. Still -- I don't think telling women that the messages women got about their femininity, the need to check aggression, keep "star" players from getting too much attention did women any good. Lastly -- Thanks, Scott for your post. You bring up many things, among them the fairness of the BCS system, which is a debate in and of itself. Obviously colleges value the exposure football brings them. A mention on Sports Center is considered almost priceless. That's why lower and middle tier schools have been moving up from Division II to Division I. Middle Tennessee State, for example, wanted the exposure that Division I brought -- even though the school's average attendance for 2000-2004 was 13,000 -- below the 17,000 required to be in the division. Why? The president said: "Athletics really is the front porch of he university. It's not something I'm particularly happy about, but it's the reality." If we decide that athletics do, can, and should occupy this role then we should consider what the implications are for gender equity. (THe NFL should not use colleges as a farm team; neither should the NBA.) Right now things have just slowly veered down this road without a recognition of what this means -- both to men's non-revenue producing sports and for women's athletics. I would argue that cable and internet coverage of all college sports has offered a window into the possibility that other sports could be revenue producing (IF they are supported, marketed and promoted that way). Women's softball playoffs -- and of course women's b-ball -- are building a greater and greater following. Football garners the most attention and investment in infrastructure (new stadiums, sometimes paid for privately, but sometimes the focus of fundraising efforts or budgetary allotments) -- but the programs are not cash cows. As John R. Thelin (Games Colleges Play: Scandal and Reform in Intercollegiate Athletics) points out about half the athletic programs in the College Football Association show an annual deficit. Other figures show that only about 100 football programs in the country make money. When you pay your coach several million dollars, that's a big dent on the bottom line of a university. I love football (I mean really, really love it), BUT it's like the wild west. Remember: These are public and private institutions which receive federal funds (and other governmental benefits like tax relief). Why should Americans subsidize a system that allows, encourages, and institutionalizes gender inequality?
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Fri 21 Dec 07 14:44
As the bowl games heat up, there's much college football on which the fan may feast. And here in the Inkwell, we've turned the "Featured" light to a newly started conversation. This one remains open, and everyone is welcome to continue the discussion, but we wanted to break in for a moment to thank Laura and Eileen for joining us on the Well. It's gone so quickly! Thanks, too, to Janet for her role.
Laura Pappano (laurapappano) Sat 22 Dec 07 19:02
Thanks Bruce, Janet -- and all those who posted. This is a terrific forum and was great for me to hear about the concerns, experiences, observations and insights of all those who took time to check in and share. Sports can -- and should -- be a tool for gender equality.
Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Sun 23 Dec 07 06:28
>Sports can -- and should -- be a tool for gender equality.< This appears to require the equal use of steriods if current "excellence" in sports is any indication.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Sun 23 Dec 07 12:04
Today's Denver Post had a front-page takeout on girl wrestlers. Wrestling is a big high school sport in Colorado, and it's a sport in which a lot of the arguments against female participation are irrelevant -- a 140-pound girl can wrestle against a 140-pound person of either gender. http://www.denverpost.com/ci_7789118 I did notice that the wrestler boy who loses to the wrestler girl in the lede is NOT identified, which I think buys into the premise that (as the story says) "if you lose to a girl, your life is over."
uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Sun 23 Dec 07 14:32
"a 140-pound girl can wrestle against a 140-pound person of either gender" I would disagree. Body composition is different, even when they are both in top shape. The boy, will, on average, be stronger.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 23 Dec 07 15:26
I would suggest that a girl who chooses to wrestle is not likely to be considered 'average' and that while I'm not a wrestler, I assume it's more than just a matter of strength.
Janet Hess (gertiestn) Sun 23 Dec 07 19:44
"The boy, will, on average, be stronger." And in a match, "on average" may not count for much.
uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Sun 23 Dec 07 23:06
Over the long haul it would matter, though.
uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Sun 23 Dec 07 23:09
And the reason they do weight classes is to try to keep physical characteristics as a factor as close to even as possible. David gets Goliath once in awhile but usually he doesn't. I think that for girls to wrestle boys they would have to do a trial and error for awhile to see how weight matches up.
Credo, Ergo Dubito (robertflink) Mon 24 Dec 07 05:19
>Over the long haul it would matter, though.< To those organizing sports and perhaps to spectators. This is one of the examples of values differing substantially at difference scales and perspectives. One of the legacies of freedom and individualism is the idea that the state should be protecting and advancing the rights of the individual over and against the values of larger systems and scales. The subject book draws from this, in my mind, recent and estimable turn in human affairs. It is understandable that those responsible for organizing society on larger scales tend to do so to enhance values at related scales. I'm sure that we all can point to many examples where these large scale values have been pursued at the expense of the individual. BTW, I understand from some past exposure to amateur wrestling that brains are a significant factor and that men have wrestled competitively at advanced ages even as their upper body strength declined somewhat.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Mon 24 Dec 07 15:08
The girl who's featured in the Post story is on her way to State if she keeps wrestling as well as she has been. JADP.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Thu 27 Dec 07 08:02
Girls play in hockey with the boys up to and through the pee wee and bantam levels where checking is allowed and it can get quite rough out on the ice. The girls in general give as well as they get and it is usually quite equal as skating skill and size are the determining factor in checking for the most part. The ability to accelerate into your target to give a solid check or by speed or speed and direction change mitigate or avoid a check is the whole game, so the girls really aren't at a disadvantage unless they let themselves be so; meaning if they try to avoid contact or act timid they become targets -- as do the boys should they shy away from the physical aspect of the game. Girls do have the option of playing in girl leagues which don't have checking if they wish so it really is an inclusive sport, as players at any level can find their comfort zone.
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