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Cheerleading: not a sport

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Collegiate cheerleaders perform a high splits ...

You're not athletes! (Image via Wikipedia)

That’s not me saying cheerleading isn’t a sport, even if I did type that headline my ownself.

That’s a Connecticut judge, ruling whether Quinnipiac University could count competitive cheerleading as a sport in order to meet requirements under Title IX, the federal law that prevents gender discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funding. U.S. District Judge Steven Underhill, sitting in Bridgeport, ruled in favor of the school’s former women’s volleyball team, which sued after the school announced it would chop (as well as men’s golf and men’s outdoor track) in favor of competitive cheerleading for 2009-10, a lawsuit that Underhill later expanded to a class-action case.

Actually, the lawsuit looked at all sorts of questions about roster-size manipulation Quinnipiac, in the judge’s mind, made to comply with Title IX, but the headlines are uniformly about how cheerleading is not a sport. And why not, after Underhill made this statement, reported in the Hartford Courant:

“Competitive cheer may, sometime in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”

The immediate result of this case is that the Fighting Pollsters have 60 days from the July 21 ruling date to get in compliance with Title IX, and specifically must bring back the women’s volleyball team.

However, while Underhill unequivocally declared that cheerleading is not a sport, no matter how much paralysis it has caused, like the current U.S. Supreme Court he made his ruling narrow enough so that everything isn’t 100 percent settled.

After all, Underhill, by saying “sometime in the future” it could qualify as a sport, ruled that cheerleading isn’t a sport not because it’s doesn’t have a ball or stick. It’s because it’s not organized enough.

So I’m thinking the takeaway for those in the cheerleading community — or the public school community — that want sis-boom-bahing declared as a sport would be: Get organized. Start leagues. Have conference championships. Get to the point where people are playing football on the sidelines to fire up the crowd into rooting harder for the cheerleaders.

Knee injuries and girls: lessons from my 10-year-old daughter

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I’m no physician, but I feel like I’ve become a little bit of an expert on noncontact athletic knee injuries suffered by girls. That’s because today, for the second time since February, I took my 10-year-old daughter to the doctor because she had sprained her left knee playing basketball. In that sense, I am becoming an expert in girls’ knees the same way I became an expert in the cars I drove in high school: because the same parts kept breaking down.

Tomorrow I take my daughter to her first appointment with an orthopedist, who will find out (hopefully) exactly why this same knee keeps getting hurt. In the short term, I know she’s worried about getting well before her softball league games start April 27 (and given the frantic messages I’ve gotten from her coach, he’s worried about it, too — hey, it’s my kid and my blog, so I can brag!), and so she can get back to her musical theater rehearsals. (Once she got her crutches today, she spent most of the afternoon walking around with them outside, fighting my entreaties to get back in and rest her knee.)

However, my wife and I are more worried that someday she’s going to need more than crutches and Ace bandages to take care of that left knee. Hence, why I’m planning on asking the orthopedist about any physical therapy or structural problems that might be causing my daughter to hurt that same knee.

As anyone who has watched women’s college basketball and its high knee-brace content knows, female athlete knees are more susceptible to injury than those of their male counterparts. Without using phrases like “narrow femoral arch,” researchers believe there are physical reasons why this happens. In particular, girls and women are more at risk of tearing their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), especially after puberty. The ACL connects the femur and the tibia behind the kneecap, which is why when that sucker gets torn, you see athletes writing in so much pain. ACL injuries are commonly caused without contact, through twisting or jumping. Each time my daughter got hurt, she reported feeling pain after jumping.

I’ve become enough of an Internet expert on girls’ knee injuries to know that a common reason jumping is a problem is because of how many girls land. Mainly, the problem is that girls are more likely to jump with their knees pointed together, creating more stress on them upon landing. Do that enough times, and the ACL starts to tear, and when it tears enough, it pops. And when it pops — the pain!

We’ll find out at the orthopedist whether this is the root of my daughter’s problem, particularly because she noticed the pain after a jump, with no contact from anyone else. If the orthopedist doesn’t check that, I might have to break out my Internet Expert’s License and tell him. Although, technically, I don’t know for sure that it’s the ACL. It seems like it, given her complaints of pain under the kneecap, although I don’t know if that’s why her left kneecap seemed to move a lot more, and disturbingly, freely than the right when her pediatrician manipulated it today.

I might be a budding Internet expert, but that only will take me so far in trying to ensure my 10-year-old daughter isn’t having major knee surgery by age 13. Eventually, I was able to afford to buy cars that allowed me not to learn so much about how they fail. Hopefully, my daughter is on the road to allowing me to spend less time becoming an expert in how girls’ knees fail.

If girls play football, boys will grow up to be wife beaters!

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Dave Cisar is an authority on coaching youth football, especially in the ways of the old-timey single-wing offense.

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However, I’m not so sure he’s an authority on girls playing football, a subject upon which his thoughts are as old-timey as that offense he borrowed from Pop Warner to dominate at Pop Warner, or some such youth football equivalent.

I think you’ll catch his drift with the headline on his piece about girls and football: “Should girls be playing youth football? NO!”

Sorry, I should have said “spoiler alert.”

Cisar, writing at EZine Articles:

In inner-city Omaha [where Cisar founded the free athletic program Screaming Eagles Sports] nearly 70% of our players have no man in the home. If you think I’m exaggerating, we have had games with 2 people in the stands and both were females, not enough for a chain crew. This was not a one time deal, we have had many games where we did not have 3 males to run the chains. Many of our players have no model of behavior in the house to “copy” of how to properly treat a woman. The kids often see first hand women being physically and mentally abused and of course they hear it in the music they listen to, on TV and in print. I’ve been coaching youth football for 15 years and the “dadless” house problem is getting worse every year. Tom Osborne in his book “Faith in the Game” claims this problem is increasing and is responsible for the majority of crime and problems with young males.

If we let girls play tackle football with boys, we teach the boys that harsh physical contact with females is acceptable behavior. In fact as coaches we would have to encourage and reward this physical contact. Our players would get in the habit and be used to being physical with females, the act would desensitize everyone involved in the activity of physical force being applied to females by males. The female in the meantime is learning that harsh physical contact with males is acceptable, it is now a habit. Now while having females on your team may help the short term progress of some of our football teams I’m not sure we are helping either the boy or the girl in their long term development as productive members of our society.

Now, I’ve coached co-ed basketball teams, so I know that, at least initially, boys and girls do feel a little weird about playing together, especially when there’s contact involved. And I don’t doubt Cisar’s sincerity that he wants boys to overcome a tough environment and treat women well.

But I think kids are capable of separating their on-field actions from their off-field actions. If that wasn’t the case, then Cisar would have been teaching the inner city boys of Omaha that it’s acceptable, off the field, to body block anyone who gets in their way.

His concern is based on an old canard: it’s not OK to hit a girl. I mean, it isn’t. But what I’m saying is, implicit in that statement is that it IS OK for boys to hit each other — which, off the field, isn’t supposed to happen, either. (By the way, it’s nice that Cisar wants to keep women free from the chains, if not of bondage, than of the first-down marker.)

So how does Cisar explain his no-gurlz-allowed policy to families who want to sign up their daughters for football?

In our rural program we have had no female football sign ups. In Omaha we have had a few moms try and sign their daughters up for football. After the initial disappointment wore off and the mom was told why we think it makes sense in the long run for females not to play, the moms were very supportive. I can think of just one case where mom didn’t “get it” and pulled her son out of the program because we would not allow her daughter to be pummeled by boys on our team. I can still see her today, a single mom with 3 kids that needed the program who refused to listen to reason. This mom had two missing front teeth, probably caused by the same cycle we were trying to help break.

She lost her front teeth because her significant male other played football against girls as a kid?

Dave Cisar may already be too late in his crusade to keep football girl-free, and not just because he might run into Natalie Randolph or Debbie Vance at a coaching clinic. For instance, he must have missed the memo that the Florida High School Athletic Association officially has declared football a co-ed sport.

Written by rkcookjr

April 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Chick fight! Why female sports violence is a big deal

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The New York Times takes on a topic that is sure to guarantee plenty of web visits by disappointed fetishists: girls fighting.

In particular, the Times’ Jere Longman is wondering, what’s all the hubbub, bub, about breathless coverage of athletic girlfights such as Baylor’s Brittney Griner punching an opponent in a women’s college basketball game, girls’ teams going at it in their Rhode Island high school soccer championship, and, the drama queen of them all, Elizabeth Lambert’s hair-pulling performance for the New Mexico women’s soccer team.

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Yeah, you’ve seen Elizabeth Lambert pull hair, but have you seen her do it to the Mortal Kombat remix?

Longman talks with coaches and experts who surmise that perhaps girls’ and women’s sports have gotten more violent as women’s sports have gotten more competitive and, in some cases, more financially lucrative. Or that the coverage of fights is out of proportion to the usual mass coverage of women’s sports, which is to say not much coverage at all. Then there’s the whole idea that people still see women as delicate flowers who would never resort to fisticuffs.

The story doesn’t go into the larger societal debate over whether girls in general are getting more violent, something you might hear in disappointed tones from police breaking up another school fight, or in hopeful tones from the proprietors of Girlfightsdump.com (home of EXPLOSIVE FIGHT VIDEOS).

Actually, the rate of girls fighting appears to be about the same, with about one-quarter of girls ages 12-17 reporting being involved in a violent incident in two separate national surveys between 2002 and 2008. In its version of the story on the survey, the New York Daily News helpfully illustrates it with stock art of two women about to get their fight on in a battle that will inevitably end with their clothes torn off and them locked in naked embrace bow chicka wow wow.

I’ll tell you why their is intense coverage of females fighting during athletic events, and it’s the same reason Maria Sharapova highlights are guaranteed to make an appearance — because they give a lot of men a hard-on. Maybe the fights don’t technically excite them in the same way as Sharapova in a tennis skirt, but it’s better than Viagra all the same.

Written by rkcookjr

March 21, 2010 at 2:12 am

Natalie Randolph isn't alone as a female H.S. football coach

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The reason you see journalists hedge on saying someone is the only one of something is because the moment you do that, it’s guaranteed you’ll get someone telling you you’re wrong.

So after the Washington Post (and I) noted that Natalie Randolph, just hired as football coach at DC’s Coolidge High, was believed to be the nation’s only female high school football coach, it suddenly popped up that, hey, she’s not the only one!

The example brought up was Debbie Vance, the head football coach at Lehman High (named after a former governor who was the son of a founder of the now-infamous Lehman Brothers) in The Bronx for the last two seasons. Her first year, the team went 1-8. In her second season, 2009, the team improved to 4-6.

It is slightly more common to have women coaching boys’ basketball times. But a 2008 analysis by the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport found that only 2 percent of boys’ teams in that state — mostly swimming and tennis — had female coaches. I suspect the numbers aren’t any higher anywhere else in the country. The bigger issue, perhaps, is a decline in female head coaches in general at the high school level. The Tucker Center said only 17 percent of high school teams in Minnesota were coached by women, and only 38 percent of girls’ teams had a female head coach. Women’s representation is declining, the Tucker Center analysis showed.

As I mentioned in my previous post on Natalie Randolph, a lot of women I know opt out of coaching at the youth level because they feel like they don’t have time, given their many responsibilities in work, life and child-raising. At least in my experience at the youngest of youth levels, I haven’t seen the level of outright gender bias that Tucker Center director Nicole LaVoi sees (in addition to her noting what I said in the previous sentence about many women not wanting to add more one responsibility).

But then again, she’s conducting research, and I’m not. And I do agree that women, no matter who they’re coaching at what level, face questions of competence that men would never hear. From a conversation LaVoi had with Minnesota Public Radio:

“If a guy shows up for the first day of practice, he’s automatically assumed to be competent because he’s a male. But when a woman comes, that’s the first thing we think of,” said Lavoi. “That’s another one of the gender stereotypes about leadership. We automatically assume men are more competent than women.”

Lavoi says that uphill struggle to acceptance keeps some women away from the sidelines.

“A lot of them are sitting around going, ‘I didn’t think you wanted me. No one ever asked me,’” said Lavoi. “That’s a bright spot to me because I know there are a lot of women out there who are very qualified, who would make great coaches, but we have to figure out a way to get them to the dance.”

For more on the dynamic of women coaching boys at the high school level, here is a Nov. 5, 2009, piece from Central Florida News 13 on Tracy Stephens, the offensive line coach at East Ridge High School in Lake County. She has worked there for three seasons, hired by her husband, Jeff, the head coach, after he ran short of coaches to help in the spring. Just by being there, Tracy Stephens teaches an important lesson to the boys: that a woman can do things as well as a man, which is a message you wouldn’t think would need to be taught anymore, but does.

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Female football coach blows chauvinist pig minds

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Bringing back a 1970s, Equal Rights Amendment-era sobriquet such as “chauvinist pig” seems appropriate given some of the reaction to one Natalie Randolph — a dame! a chick! a skirt! — on March 12 officially taking over as head football coach at Washington, D.C.’s Coolidge High. As far as anyone can tell, the 29-year-old Randolph is the nation’s only female high school football coach. [MARCH 13 UPDATE: She isn't. But she's one of a very, very few.]

From Washington Post metro columnist Petula Dvorak:

After The Post broke the story Wednesday [March 10] that Natalie Randolph will take the job at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in the District and probably be the only such female coach in the nation, a flurry of online commenters worried about the boys of Coolidge.

“This is a brutal physical sport that rips the testosterone from guys and puts it on display. There is no place here for an estrogen injection,” one reader commented on the story.

I wonder if this person has ever seen childbirth up close.

“THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL A FEMALE CAN BE CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE COACH OF FOOTBALL,” another ranted.

I’m sure Randolph knows more than anyone that her lack of a penis is going to come back again and again as an issue, even though she played women’s semipro football and has experience as an assistant coach in the District schools.

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No. 81 in your DC Divas program, No. 1 in your hearts. Check out the TD catch Randolph makes at 1:25 in this summation of  the Divas’ 2006 championship season.

Even though it appears Randolph is the only female head football coach at any American high school, Dvorak points out that women have had success coaching boys’ teams elsewhere.

That includes Joanie Welch of Wasilla, Alaska, a hockey mom who has brought her presumably Palin-esque pit-bull-with-lipstick style (if we believe the Sarah Palin definition of hockey mom) to the local high school as an assistant hockey coach for the last three seasons, in her first year attempting to guide a local lothario named Levi Johnston.

Back to Randolph, as unfortunate as it seems that her being a head football coach is news — even in an age where the Florida High School Athletic Association (dubiously) claims football is a coed sport — what’s even more unfortunate is that her coaching at all is news.

Yes, there are many female coaches at all levels of sport. Research by Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and Michael Messner, professor of gender studies at sociology at USC, finds that only one of five youth sports coaches is female, even though by at least one count, girls comprise close to 50 percent of all youth sports participants.

While LaVoi and I have some slight differences on why that number is low, we would be in agreement that it would be great to see that number go up. I’m disappointed that this year, for my 7-year-old son’s baseball team, I will not have a female assistant, as I did last year. It was disappointing that when I managed by 10-year-old daughter’s softball teams, I never had a female assistant, even though I begged one ex-softball playing mom to come aboard. (Claiming she was too busy — a pretty legitimate claim, and a common reason in my experience why moms haven’t coached — she instead sent her husband.) I was heartened that one the assistants of my 10-year-old daughters’ co-ed basketball team was (well, still is) a woman.

I think the message sent to both boys and girls by having a female coaching (and I don’t believe she has to be relegated to an assistant — it’s just in these cases I happened to be the head coach) is that women can be athletic role models and are knowledgeable about sports. Again, that seems like a ridiculous message 40 years into Title IX, but a subtle message can creep in, with no female coaches, that sports is a boy thing only. It’s my 10-year-old daughter, not my 7-year-old son, who talks about how unusual she is compared to her classmates that likes to play sports.

In Randolph’s case, I’m going to bet that while some of her players might at first resist having a girl for a football coach, that opposition will fall as it would for any male coach. That is, once it’s clear to them she knows what she’s doing, they will follow. At least the players are at the age where their lack of maturity might excuse some of their conduct vis-a-vis a lady football coach.

I’m not sure what the excuse would be for adult football coaches who would know better than to worry about a dame! a chick! a skirt!, like this knucklehead quoted anonymously (way to have some balls, tough guy) in the Washington Post:

“All I know is, I don’t want to be the first one to lose to her. That’s going to be wild.”

Written by rkcookjr

March 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Volleyball-chucking coach Eric Maxwell doesn't get why he's so, so wrong

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This here blog on Jan. 6 posted the video of Southern Regional High School (Manahawkin, N.J.) always-intense volleyball coach Eric Maxwell going nuts during a game after a player committed the sin of not hitting the ball before it reached the floor, going nuts in the form of whipping a volleyball fastball on her head. Alas, in a tribute to the lack of pull this here blog has (for now), it took Deadspin.com posting the video Feb. 1 before Maxwell and his school bothered to respond to questions like, why is this guy still coaching?

Maxwell defended his action (which occurred in October 2009) to the Press of Atlantic City (one of the best newspapers of its size in covering youth sports issues, in my opinion), as did a few other school officials, who I think were afraid they would get brained with a volleyball if they didn’t tell the world what a great guy Maxwell is.

Maxwell claimed he wasn’t trying to hit a player, and that everything with his team was hunky-dory a few hours after the incident, which got him booted out of the game. Maxwell said he apologized to the player, and wrote a letter of apology to his team members and their parents. A signal that Mr. Intensity (“he patrols up and down the sidelines …. with the fury of a drill sergeant, sayeth the Star-Ledger of Newark) wasn’t looking at this as a lesson to dial things down came when he said he didn’t apologize to anyone else because he “wasn’t going to put out little fires.”

“You see a short clip like that, but no one knows what preceded it. I’m not condoning my behavior in getting upset and yelling at a referee, but my intent was to throw it off the wall. It certainly looks like I threw it at her,” he said.

Hey, sarge, it doesn’t matter whether you were TRYING to throw it at her. You shouldn’t have been chucking the ball in the first place. How do you expect your team to be calm and controlled when you have zero mastery over your own temper? Unless you were firing a ball at a person who had entered the gym carrying an assault rifle, I can’t think of “what preceded” your action that made it excusable.

Then again, sarge, you do have employers who make excuses for you.

Southern Regional School District Superintendant Craig Henry said Monday afternoon that the incident was an anomaly and completely out of character for Maxwell.

Apparently Henry never reads the Star-Ledger.

“This coach is a faith-based individual and he is moved to emotion every time it comes up. He’s a class act in everything he does,” Henry said.

A faith-based individual? What does that have to do with anything? Richard Reid, Baruch Goldstein and Eric Rudolph were faith-based individuals moved to emotion, too, and no one wants them coaching their volleyball team. The point is not that Maxwell is a religious nut bent to kill, but that it’s maddening how people are ready to explain away any action because, hey, the guy’s got the Jesus! By the way, I would love to hear the superintendent’s explanation of how Maxwell was a class act in whizzing that volleyball across the floor.

Hey, teachers at Southern Regional High, you now have permission to chuck objects at your students, as long as you’re a faith-based individual and you say you were aiming for the wall! (Well, Maxwell is on one-year probation, according to the superintendent, so there might be a teensy-weensy consequence, at least if your tantrum gets on YouTube.)

At least athletic director Kim DeGraw-Cole said throwing the ball, no matter what Maxwell tried to hit, was wrong.

“The fact that the ball hit one of his players that he cares about and coaches is embarrassing. He took the proper steps before we took action,” DeGraw-Cole said. “It wouldn’t matter if he threw the ball at the wall, it wouldn’t be appropriate. No one felt worse than he did.”

I don’t know, Ms. DeGraw-Cole. I bet that girl who got a ball off the head felt pretty damn bad.

Elizabeth Lambert, you're not alone: R.I. girls' soccer championship ends in brawl

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To hear the coverage of infamous New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert, you’d think that except for her, female soccer players are sugar and spice and everything nice.

Well, there is plenty of spice, at least, as witnessed Nov. 8 near the end of the MetLife Soccer Classic Girls Division IV Championship in Providence, R.I.

The game was called with about a minute left, with Woonsocket up 5-0 over Tolman, after a fight between two players escalated into a brawl that cleared both benches. Budding soccer goons representing both sides started fighting in the stands during the post-game awards ceremony.

Under Rhode Island Interscholastic League rules, any player involved in a fight must sit out five games. If the player is a senior, she must sit out the first five games of the next sport she players. If she’s an underclassmen, she sits out the first five games of the next season. The league is investigating to determine whom to punish.

You see the fight start here:

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And here you can see Woonsocket’s coach, Kathy Fagnan, all hepped up, not exactly apologize for what happened. “We’re both physical teams … at some point someone snapped … I don’t know what really happened, I wasn’t on the field … Not to put a blame on anybody, it could be us, too, we were going back and forth … I don’t know, we had the advantage, we had good spirit — you know, I’m not gonna take the fall for that.”

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About that study that says sports doesn’t cause white girls to fight? That researcher might want to double-check her notes.

Girls play baseball, too

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nogirlsYou wouldn’t know it from the rosters at the Little League World Series, but there’s a groundswell growing to let girls play baseball.

Growing only now, you say, 35 years after Little League was forced by lawsuit to allow girls to play? (The ban came into effect after the 1950 season, when a girl posed as a boy named “Tubby” to play in Corning, N.Y.) And what do I mean, “let?” Isn’t this issue settled?

Not by a long shot. Female baseball players are few and far between. In Indiana, the state’s high school athletic association overturned a ban on girls even trying out for baseball only this spring, after determining it would lose a lawsuit. A girl playing high school baseball is still big news. And two different books were published this year explaining the past and current history of baseball authorities at every level being active members of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Little League would certainly not call itself a member. In 2004, when it had two girls in the World Series, it had a special ceremony to honor female ballplayers. This year, for the second time, the Little League World Series roster features two girls: Katie Reyes of Vancouver, B.C., and Bryn Stonehouse of Dharhan, Saudi Arabia. (Stonehouse, a Katy, Texas, native, plays for a team of expatriates residing in the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp, the fenced-in company town for the world’s largest oil company.) Reyes and Stonehouse brings the number of girls who have played in South Williamsport, Pa., up to 15 all-time. Between 2004 and 2009, there were zero girls in the Little League World Series.

Whether there are girls or whomever on a Little League World Series team has to do with the makeup of the league and the all-stars of the locality that has its tournament run. But that two girls is a rare event is evidence of all the years of banning and otherwise discouraging girls from playing. At Little League age, boys and girls are still competitive physically. Reyes is 5-foot-6, 132 pounds, and Stonehouse is 5-foot-4, 150 pounds — each bigger than many of their teammates. For that matter, my 10-year-old daughter is taller than a few of my 12-year-old son’s friends. If girls were encouraged to play baseball, there is no physical reason they could not compete.

However, since Title IX and Little League lawsuits and whatnot forced organizations and schools to let girls play at all, they have been steered toward the stated equivalent of baseball: softball.

Now, I’m not going to crack on softball. My 10-year-old daughter has played it, and well (she’s a three-time All-Star, if I may brag. And because it’s my blog, I can.) I’ve coached two teams. I know that if a girl is going to get that elusive (and often mythical, given how few actually get them) athletic scholarship for a stick-and-ball sport, it will be softball. Also, socially I can understand why girls would want to play in a sport with other girls, rather than be vastly outnumbered in baseball. Reyes and Stonehouse aren’t rooming with their teammates at the Little League World Series. They’re rooming with each other.

But I understand that baseball and softball are not the same, and that if a girl wants the opportunity to play baseball, she should have it. As it turns out, there are more female-only baseball organizations forming for the benefit of girls who would like to play the sport without having to put up with the male bullshit. Part of the ultimately unsuccessful bid to get baseball back for the 2016 Olympics was to have men’s and women’s baseball events.

Reyes has said she wants to keep playing baseball. Stonehouse, who played softball in the U.S., said she would like to return to the sport. Either is acceptable and should be encouraged. I believe, in the immortal words of “Bad News Bears in Breaking Training:” Let! Them! Play!

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Written by rkcookjr

August 24, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Florida school sports cuts might be rescinded. But does football get to stay coed?

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The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times is reporting on its high school sports blog that there is a good chance, judging by the agenda for its July 15 meeting, that the Florida High School Athletic Association might rescind cuts it made to every sport except football and cheerleading.

In the agenda, Executive Director Roger Dearing will apparently recommend that the controversial scheduling cuts — 20 percent for all varsity sports except football and cheerleading, and 40 percent for junior varsity sports — be rescinded. …

The cuts, which the FHSAA maintains was merely a move to save money, didn’t seem to be very popular with many Tampa Bay area coaches. But the fact that the cuts did not include football spawned a lawsuit by a group of parents represented by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, claiming the cuts discriminated against female athletes and were not in compliance with Title IX.

13(If the name Nancy Hogshead rings a bell, it might be that you remember her winning three gold medals and a silver in swimming at the 1984 Olympics. That’s her in her swimming glory days at right. Now she’s an attorney who handles a lot of Title IX cases. This one is a little personal, considering Hogshead-Makar lives in the Jacksonville area and has three young children — including twin daughters.)

Of course, it’s no sure thing the FHSAA board will overturn its plan, even though it passed only 9-6 in April. Someone is going to likely suggest, correctly, that the association is going to have to do something to help schools whose budgets are cratering under the mortgage meltdown.

However, what does not help is stupidity like, say, responding to Hogshead-Makar’s lawsuit by declaring football a “coed sport” (because three out of 36,000 players are girls) for the purposes of defending yourself in a Title IX lawsuit. No disrespect to cheerleading as a physical activity, but certainly the FHSAA’s exclusion of that from cuts was supposed to show some sort of gender equity at stake. The raw numbers don’t add up: there are 5,000 cheerleaders, so you’re running about 31,000 short to keep things equitable. Cynicism (or idiocy) like this is why people bringing Title IX lawsuits generally win them.

The FHSAA is due back in court July 17, whatever way it goes in it next meeting. No word yet on whether football gets to stay a coed sport if the FHSAA settles the case.

Written by rkcookjr

July 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

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