Tag Archives: sports

NY Times – Undermining Title IX in College Sports

These are some juicy excerpts taken from “College Teams, Relying on Deception, Undermine Gender Equity,” April 25, 2011, by KATIE THOMAS.

 

Ever since Congress passed the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX, universities have opened their gyms and athletic fields to millions of women who previously did not have chances to play.

Title IX, passed in 1972 at the height of the women’s rights movement, banned sex discrimination in any federally financed education program. It threw into sharp relief the unequal treatment of male and female athletes on college campuses…

Over the next 40 years, the law spawned a cultural transformation: the number of women competing in college sports has soared by more than 500 percent — to 186,000 a year from fewer than 30,000 in 1972.

Universities must demonstrate compliance with Title IX in at least one of three ways: by showing that the number of female athletes is in proportion to overall female enrollment, by demonstrating a history of expanding opportunities for women, or by proving that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of their female students.

But as women have grown to 57 percent of American colleges’ enrollment, athletic programs have increasingly struggled to field a proportional number of female athletes. And instead of pouring money into new women’s teams or trimming the rosters of prized football teams, many colleges are turning to a sleight of hand known as roster management.

According to a review of public records from more than 20 colleges and universities by The New York Times, and an analysis of federal participation statistics from all 345 institutions in N.C.A.A. Division I — the highest level of college sports — many are padding women’s team rosters with underqualified, even unwitting, athletes. They are counting male practice players as women. And they are trimming the rosters of men’s teams.

According to the most current federal numbers, women make up 53 percent of the student body at Division I institutions yet only 46 percent of all athletes. And that discrepancy does not take into account all the tactics used to boost the numbers artificially.

  • At Marshall University, the women’s tennis coach recently invited three freshmen onto the team even though he knew they were not good enough to practice against his scholarship athletes, let alone compete.

    They could come to practice whenever they liked, he told them, and would not have to travel with the team.

  • At Cornell, only when the 34 fencers on the women’s team take off their protective masks at practice does it become clear that 15 of them are men. Texas A&M and Duke are among the elite women’s basketball teams that also take advantage of a federal loophole that allows them to report male practice players as female participants.
  • Roster management came under scrutiny last year when a federal judge ruled that Quinnipiac University in Connecticut had violated Title IX by engaging in several questionable practices, including requiring that women cross-country runners join the indoor and outdoor track teams so they could be counted three times. The judge found earlier that Quinnipiac had been padding women’s rosters by counting players, then cutting them a few weeks later.
  • At the University of South Florida, more than half of the 71 women on the cross-country roster failed to run a race in 2009. Asked about it, a few laughed and said they did not know they were on the team.
  • Sarah Till, who graduated from South Florida in 2009, was a more extreme case. She said that she quit and returned her track scholarship in her sophomore year, but her name was listed on the rosters of all three squads through her junior year.  “They wanted to keep me on the roster because the more girls they have on the roster, the more positions they have to give for the guys’ teams,” she said, adding that a former assistant coach had told her she would receive running shoes and priority class registration as a reward for staying on the rosters.

Read the rest of Thomas’s article here at the NYTimes.

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Let the Women Fly

Michele Morris, Ms. Blog

The calendar may say 2010, but for women ski jumpers it’s still feeling like the 1950s when men competed and women watched. Ski jumping is the only winter Olympic event that doesn’t have a female competition.

In October, the 12-member executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) met in Acapulco, Mexico to consider adding new events to the 2014 Winter Games, which will take place in Sochi, Russia.  The wannabes include women’s ski jumping as well as ski halfpipe, ski and snowboard slopestyle and three coed events: biathlon mixed team relay, figure skating team event and luge team relay.

Blame it on the margaritas or maybe the sun, but the old boys couldn’t bring themselves to say “si “to the women ski jumpers’ request to join the Games. Instead, they said “wait and see.”

Yet the women ski jumpers and their supporters took hope from this latest non-decision. After all, the board didn’t say no, as it did at the Torino and Vancouver Olympics. But pushing the decision off until next spring, after the next World Cup event, is a major cop-out. Olympic athletes are supported by their national organizations, while non-Olympic athletes must raise their own money to compete. Olympic athletes stay in hotels with queen-size mattreses, while non-Olympic ones sleep on friends’ couches. Olympic athletes can earn millions from advertising endorsements, while non-Olympic ones work low-paying jobs that give them flexibility to train.

Jacques Rogge, the Belgian yachtsman who is the president of the IOC, insists that he needs more time to see if the sport has evolved. Perhaps someone should tell Rogge that ski jumping is older than he is: He was born in 1942 and women have been ski jumping since the 1920s. Women jumpers took a hiatus starting in the 1950s, however, when doctors said that the sport was too dangerous for them–that it might damage their female organs.  No one worried if the men jumpers, who wear thin lycra onesy suits, risk frostbite on their private parts.

The women ski jumpers hoped that they would be allowed to jump at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games,  because Canada has an antidiscrimination charter. But the IOC was not going to be governed by a host nation’s pesky law, and the women were denied their Olympic berth. As a last resort, the jumpers filed a lawsuit charging gender discrimination and asking the Canadian courts to allow them into the Games.  The judge found evidence of gender discrimination, but ruled that the IOC was not subject to Canada’s anti-discrimination laws.

It was hard to watch men’s ski jumping in Vancouver knowing that the women were on the sidelines and that a woman, Lindsey Van, held the record jump on the competition hill before the Games began. And it was hard to watch alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn (with an o not an a) win a gold medal knowing that ski jumper Vann wasn’t allowed to compete. But it was especially hard to explain to my seven-year-old niece, whose mother was an Olympic rower, why the women ski jumpers couldn’t compete.  “Because their girls?” she asked.  That’s right, Zara, because they’re girls.  “That’s not fair,” she pointed out.

Jacques Rogge, are you listening?

Photo of Holmenkollen ski jump in Norway under license from Creative Commons 3.0.

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First Open Transgender in Division I College Basketball

Yes, you heard right.

Having done a post a few months ago on gender and sex discrimination in women’s basketball and viewed the degrading treatment of record-breaking runner Caster Semenya just last year, this story appears to be a remarkable precedent for gender and sexual equality in sports.


Here are some portions from Matt Norlander’s article, “Transgender George Washington player a fascinating, inspiring story,” via Rivals.com to give you the basics. 

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The George Washington junior — who used to be known as Kay-Kay — is referred to on the school’s website as a “male member of George Washington’s women’s basketball team.”

Allums wants to be identified as a male, though he will not begin any medical or drug protocols until he graduates in order to preserve his eligibility on George Washington’s women’s basketball team. OutSports.com reported Allums will be the first publicly transgender person to play Division I college basketball.

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So you might be wondering how this is all possible – how can he play for a women’s basketball team as a man?  The NCAA states that as long as Allums doesn’t take testosterone, he qualifies to play on a women’s team.

This very thorough and fascinating article from OutSports.com describes how this situation isn’t just black and white, female or male:

The issue remains a complicated one for many to grasp. One coach who asked to remain anonymous said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports.

Still, Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

“There’s not just a one-sentence answer,” said former NCAA basketball head coach Helen Carroll, who co-authored NCLR’s trans-athlete report. “It’s much more complicated than him being a man so he should play men’s sports. Kye as an athlete should have an opportunity to play sports. Period. What that looks like gets complicated because Kye is a transgender athlete.”

To hear more from Allums on his difficult experiences hiding his gender and how his current decision is affecting his teammates and coach, check out OutSports.com.

Now to leave you with some very positive insight from Allums himself on how society can be more open-minded aabout transgenders:

“I used to feel like trans anything was really weird and those people were crazy, and I wondered, ‘How can you feel like that?’” Allums said. “But I looked it up on the Internet and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m one of those weird people.’ And I realized they’re not weird. It’s all in your mindset and how you think.”

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The Speed Sisters in Palestine – NPR

What do you think of when you hear “racing?”  The roaring of engines?  Drunken fat men cheering?  Bikini-clad women waving checkered flags at the finish line?  I hear the victory bells of equality!

So gender equality in racing is no reality yet, but women the world over are staking their claim in this quest of man over machine.  NPR, CNN, and BBC ran stories recently on The Speed Sisters in the West Bank – a growing group of competitive female race car drivers tackling gender politics on the race track in the Middle East.

And since I believe in activism, show some support for these fearless leaders by friending them on Facebook or following them on Twitter.  On their Facebook fan page you can see some really amazing photos of their fun and daring endeavors.

Here are some segments from the three articles.  Check out the articles in their entirety by clicking the links.

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“The Speed Sisters,” BBC

The eight-strong team is made up of Muslim and Christian women aged 18 to 39.

Not only are they challenging their male counterparts on the track, but also the often conservative nature of Middle Eastern society.

They recently competed in their first race as a team on what has always been a male-dominated circuit.

In another event they took part in, 50 competitors of both sexes had to race against the clock around the car park of a vegetable market in Jenin.

Matthew Bannister spoke to Suna Aweidah about how she came to be a competitor and how male attitudes towards her and the team have changed.

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“In the West Bank, Women with a Need for Speed,” Sheera Frenkel, NPR

Khaled Khadoura, head of the Palestinian Motorsport Federation, says that it took no time for women to move from novelty racers at the track to serious competitors. “I’m very proud to see our young women today taking an interest in race car driving, and training in order to improve themselves,” Khadoura says.

But not everyone is happy to see her on the track. Despite the growing popularity of racing across the Arab world, a number of Muslim clerics have spoken out against the sport.

Teammate Sahar Jawabrah says she’s heard men call it haram, or forbidden, but she thinks they are ill-informed. There is nothing wrong with racing, she says.

While most of the men at the races applaud just as loudly for the female racers as for the men, some say they are uncomfortable with women at the racetrack.

(Click for photo gallery) Mona Ennab, a former beauty pageant contestant, has been racing for more than seven years. But this year she's found herself as part of a team, the Speed Sisters - a group of Palestinian female race car drivers that's breaking stereotypes in the Arab world's increasingly popular auto racing scene. Photos by Maya Levin for NPR

Tareq Sarsou, a 33-year-old Ramallah store owner, says that while he was impressed by the sport, he isn’t sure it’s appropriate for Palestinian society. “I would not allow my wife, my sister or my daughter to race here,” Sarsou says.

In this season’s races, nearly all the women fared well against the men. And one of the Speed Sisters earned a spot in the top 10 rankings.

Like many of the women on the team, Ennab says she began her racing career almost by accident. “I love cars, I love speed, so I drive fast. And after they see me in Ramallah when I drive fast they told me to come to the federation and join,” she says.

“I think for me, driving isn’t like any other sports; men and women can compete in the same race. And you know what — they’re beginning to get there,” McLuskie says. “At the beginning of the season we had one of our girls who won her category. And you should have seen the faces of those guys.”

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“The Palestinian women racing drivers with a need for speed” by Paula Hancocks, CNN

Noor Daoud is 20 years old and car-crazy.

She wears black-and-yellow overalls rolled down to her waist, her curly hair tied back in a ponytail, and holds her helmet loosely in a perfectly manicured hand: This Palestinian woman who freely accepts she’s a tomboy.

Daoud has been driving since the age of 11 and used to run errands in the car for her mother in East Jerusalem. She was tall for her age, which is how she was able to reach the pedals.

Some of her male friends have come along for moral support and she says when other men see her race, they have no idea at first she’s a girl.

“They think I’m a boy, they don’t know I’m a girl,” she said, adding that she gets some raised eyebrows when she takes her helmet off. “They’re really surprised, they say ‘How can she? Where did she learn?’ And I never learned really, nobody taught me, it’s all me,” she said.

Daoud recently had some expert coaching from British trainer and former competitor Helen Elstrop. Elstrop told CNN: “The determination I see is just much stronger in these girls, and the Palestinian women I have met. They have worked very, very hard to achieve. Just to be out there is such a big, huge step.”

As Elstrop helped to break down gender barriers in Britain in what was traditionally thought of as a boy’s sport, she is helping the Palestinian women to do the same.

“When you have a crash helmet on, when you have your overalls on, when you have the windows up, who knows [who is] in the car?” she said. “It doesn’t matter, we like a level playing field.”

That was certainly the case on Ramallah race day. Seven women were competing with 43 men, and as the cars spun past scarily close to the spectators it was almost impossible to tell who was inside.

Although a man won this race, one of the women came seventh out of 50 — an impressive achievement considering how young the sport is for Palestinian women.

Little disappointment from Noor. She said “It’s been fun watching people win … because we’re all winners, we’re all sisters. We’re all speed sisters.”

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NPR – Ban on Race-Based Team Names

This article was written by Brian Bull for NPR.  Listen/read the story here.

School team nicknames like the Chieftains and Braves may soon be a thing of the past in Wisconsin, where a new law allows the state to ban race-based mascots and logos. If a complaint is upheld, school districts face fines of up to $1,000 a day.  A provision in the law says schools with mascots specifically named after a federally recognized tribe could keep it, if they have that tribe’s permission.

This is a Jay Rosenstein documentary on the use of native images as mascots in American sports. "In Whose Honor?" examines the issues of racism, stereotypes, and the powerful effects of mass-media imagery. It captures the passion and resolve articulated by both sides of this contemporary controversy, and also shows the extent to which one community, that of Champaign, Illinois, will go to defend and justify its mascot. Click to watch a short clip.

It’s been 42 years since the National Congress of American Indians challenged the use of Native American mascots. Today, an estimated 900 high schools and colleges still use Native American names and images for sports teams. And of course, there are the professional teams — the Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, among others.

For decades, Native American civil rights groups have called on these teams to change their names. They’ve had little success. But Dave Czesniuk, of the Boston-based group Sport in Society, thinks the Wisconsin law may turn out to be a game-changer.

“I think what’s going on in Wisconsin is exciting, and it’s a true sign of real change,” he says. “You know, social responsibility is on the rise, even in the ranks of professional sports and the corporate level.”

Czesniuk says attitudes have changed since the 1970s, when an estimated 3,000 schools and colleges had Indian mascots. He says the key to making the case is teaching team officials and fans how they perpetuate stereotypes and hurt some Native Americans.

Check out the video clip from the documentary, In Whose Honor? above to learn a little more about this debate.

These links are from the documentary’s website:

Links to other mascot resources:

Links to other American Indian video resources:

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Kelly Kulick – The World’s Best Bowler, Dude

This post is a little outdated.  Kelly Kulick was the first woman ever to win the PBA Tournament – in January 2010.  Didn’t hear about her or the tournament either, eh?

Kulick had been a member of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association, but the organization folded a few years ago.  In an article for Daily Finance, Jonathan Berr states Kulick, 32, “bowled 50 games over three days to win the tour’s premiere event, the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.”  See Kulick in action on ESPN here and see her PBA athlete profile here.

Taken from her Facebook Fan page (Yes, go fan her right now. Right now.)

She crushed a former Player of the Year, Chris Barnes, 265-195 in the championship match to win a $40,000 first prize. She also won a two-year exemption on the PBA Tour, virtually assuring her a chance to make a living as a pro bowler, because she does not need to qualify for individual events.  She’s hoping Sunday’s win could lead to a full-time women’s tour, instead of just a series.

“Kelly Kulick’s win today at the PBA Tour’s Tournament of Champions is not only historic, it serves as a motivational and inspirational event for girls and women competing at all levels all around the world,” Women’s Sports Foundation Founder Billie Jean King said in a release.
Berr says, “But so far, these victories haven’t left her swimming in endorsements. These days, when she’s not bowling, she handles secretarial work at her father’s auto-body shop.”

Berr argues that her lack of support isn’t just due to her gender, and the sport’s general unfriendliness to women, but also from bowling’s history in pop culture as being a sport for troglodytes, drug pushers, and generally strange men.  Take such classics as The Flintstones, The Big Lebowski, and Kingpin.  Fred Flintstone, the unofficial mayor of Bedrock, hurls his ball down the lane with all his might. (Actually, Fred lofts his ball, which only novices do, and which damages the lanes, driving bowling-center managers crazy.) Kingpin and The Big Lebowski both treat bowling as camp, not as a serious sport.

So I encourage all of you to fan her on Facebook, go play some bowling, and support your local and professional female athletes.
See Berr’s full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/cjap42

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Women in the World Cup

Notice anything?  There aren’t any women in the World Cup.

However, there is a “Women’s World Cup” since the generic “World Cup” doesn’t allow women.  The first Women’s World Cup (WCC) was held in 1991 – sixty-one years after the men’s first tournament in 1930.  Check out your local Wikipedia for more info on that.  The next WWC will be held next summer in Germany.

Yamaguchi Mami (L) of japan fights for a ball with Liu Huana of China during the AFC Women's Asian Cup Final between China and Japan at Chengdu Sports Center on May 30, 2010 in Chengsu, Sichuan Province of China. Getty Images

A column by Hillary Smith for nwi.com discusses a new study released last week that shows that women’s sports aren’t treated equally to men’s sports in the media.  Here are the highlights from her column:

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  • Smith’s column uses the 2010 Gender in Televised Sports report issued by the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Southern California.  Read the report here.
  • A study released this week about how the national media covers women’s sports showed that 100 percent of “Sports Center” news broadcasts opened with a story about one male sport or another.
  • It found that in March, when men’s and women’s basketball share the court, coverage of men’s basketball out-shines that of women’s basketball 10-to-1 on national broadcasts.
  • ESPN is the sole broadcaster of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, yet ESPN still devotes an average of four stories about women’s hoops for every 40 stories about men’s.
  • USC has been conducting the same study since 1989, taking a look every five years to see if news and airtime has improved. In the first year, the study found that 5.0 percent of airtime was devoted to women’s sports; in 2009, it was 1.6 percent nationally, down 6.3 percent from 2004.

“If girls aren’t seeing other girls or women playing sports, then it reduces their ability to imagine themselves as athletes, and that might affect their participation in sports,” Purdue’s Cheryl Cooky, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology and women’s studies, said in a release about the study.

“We need to be aware of this decline and find other ways to expose young female athletes to positive role models.”

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Read Hillary Smith’s column here or you can reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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