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From his article in Time Magazine:

Many will argue that the pay difference is the result of free market supply and demand. More people want to see men play professional basketball than want to see women play, so the players are paid accordingly. You can’t argue economics. There is truth to this. You can’t force people to attend a sporting event if they don’t want to.

However, this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can change things. First, we need to address why they don’t want to watch. This goes back to cultural biases. If we don’t value girls’ sports in middle school and high school, then we don’t grow up to value them as professional athletes. And by value, I mean make athletic opportunities available, pay coaches equally, and promote female sports with the same vigor as we do male sports.

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messin’ with dem boyz whoz wants to play sports. Charts: The State of Women’s Athletics, 40 Years After Title IX

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Bernice Sandler, who helped draft the legislation back in 1972recently told ESPN, “The only thought I gave to sports when the bill was passed was, ‘Oh, maybe now when a school holds its field day, there will be more activities for the girls.'” During the Senate hearings on the bill—aside from one Senator’s crack about coed football which drew hearty guffaws—sports weren’t mentioned at all.

My, how things change. Forty years later, despite the important impact it’s had in other areas, from math and science education to the rights of pregnant students, Title IX is best known for transforming women’s athletics. In 1972, just 1 in 27 girls participated in high school sports; today, about two in five do, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. The number of women playing at the college level has skyrocketed by more than 600 percent. (Incidentally, these days coed football teams aren’t a joke either.)

Yet progress towards gender equity in sports has been uneven and incomplete. Here are five charts showing what’s changed—and what hasn’t—since Title IX’s passage in 1972.

At the heart of it, when you get through all the gender stereotyping and social backwardness (easy, no?) these days, the big issue is about money. Sharing the pie. About how to divide a limited pie to feed various mouths. And everyone knows that Athletic Directors (overwhelmingly male) make the money decisions. And (mostly) they’re not interested in equity. If they were, there would be no need for Title IX.

So, when the male AD decides that the last 10 football players – the ones who never get in to the game – are more important than, say, the best 10 male wrestlers, or the 5 fabulous female fencers… Well, that’s not the fencers’ fault because they’ve somehow developed an “interest” fencing because they caught a glimpse of Mariel Zagunis. Or the wrestlers’ fault because they’ve somehow developed an “interest” wrestling having  caught a glimpse of Rulon Gardner. It is a choice that ADs are making because they’re scared of football.

So, while I understand that the whimpy, lazy default is to blame women for having the temerity to be interested in the higher education opportunities that sports scholarships offer, I’d be more impressed if folks like Doug at the Deseret grew a set (so to speak) and looked at the facts and didn’t hide behind his threatened ego. I guess we know who Nikes “Voices were talking about:

I’m not saying the choices are easy — especially in these economic times when educators should really be looking carefully at what they’re spending on athletics and why. But lazy reporting and opinionating gets us nowhere. Women and men “just wanna play ball.” What’s the best way to help all of them do that?

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From Chris Whit at the Athens-Banner Herald: Murphey’s pioneering spirit lives on through UGA women’s athletics

[T]oday is the closing round of the annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, a women’s golf tournament she began 40 years ago as the Georgia Invitational and later renamed the Women’s Southern Intercollegiate Championships. It has become one of the largest, most competitive and longest-running women’s athletic events in the country, a fitting tribute to someone who spent nearly four decades laboring for the simple pleasure of seeing other women have the opportunity to play sports.

“It’s been forty years since this tournament started, and that speaks a lot to who Liz Murphey was,” said Landers, who was hired by Murphey and then-athletic director Vince Dooley in 1979. “For her to start this women’s golf tournament when she did, when most places didn’t even have women’s golf teams then, it was a big deal when you think about it now. That shows her vision and the passion she had, as well as the courage that she had to step out and dare to dream of something different for women athletes. That’s what Liz was about — that opportunity.”

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for all you’ve done in support of women’s athletics.

A columnist steps away after more than three decades on the beat.

¶ In 1996, I proposed covering women’s sports just about every day of the coming Summer Games in Atlanta, noting that the International Olympic Committee had rightly increased the events for women. The so-called Games of the Women were graced by soccer, softball and basketball teams from the United States and elsewhere.

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from Val: She’s got the look, but is that a good thing?

Somewhere along the way, the interest in fashion spilled over to women’s tennis, to the point the two are now inexorably intertwined. But what makes this so remarkable is that although fashion has become part of the women’s tennis story, it hasn’t taken anything away from the core storylines — that is, the performances of the players and the fierceness of the competition. It’s the best of both worlds: fashion has given tennis fans something else to watch for and talk about, but in the end, the important thing is who wins, not who winds up in Vogue.

Because I’ve worked in basketball for so many years, I’ve often thought about the differences between individual and team sports when it comes to fashion, and wondered whether fashion is a factor in shaping a sport’s image in the minds of fans. Unlike sports such as tennis and figure skating, in which individual expression through one’s attire is encouraged, the fashion creed in team sports is all about conformity. I guess that’s the whole point of being on a team: It’s all for one and one for all, so when it comes to outfitting, every team member is expected to look and dress alike.

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ESPNW sets us back

Until women’s sports becomes part of mainstream America and water cooler discussion, progress is going to be limited. How do you make people like it? For starters you don’t segregate it. It’s not the media’s job to spotlight women’s sports in hopes of building an audience, but if you’re going to take that role, as ESPN has, why not cover women’s sports the same way you cover men’s sports? There are stories and features and games that deserve attention even if they don’t involve Brittney Griner dunking or UConn losing. Yet everything else in women’s basketball is lumped together. Georgetown beating Tennessee might as well be Delaware State losing to Syracuse. It’s all in the same pile. Put it on the crawl, that is if one of the team is part of the ESPN Top 25.

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Looks like espnW.com (the blog) is up. Says the home page:

espnW is… a destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes. We hope you find it surprising, informative and inspiring, because we created it just for you. We welcome your thoughts.

Here’s a thought: Looking at your “contributors list” I say, “Where the fark are Mechelle and Graham?!?  I mean, wouldn’t it make sense to tap into the two best known WRITERS on women’s sports who have, you know, a reputation and a fanbase?

Or, how about  CROSS LINKING articles and blogs written on the women’s basketball page to this blog. Maybe, then, fans might finds pieces like this by Val Ackerman: Women and sports: Where we go from here

Girls and women today have also taken to sports as fans in numbers that were unimaginable when Title IX became law in 1972. There was a time when you wouldn’t expect to see men and women cheering in unison at a sports venue, but sporting events in 2010 routinely feature a healthy share of passionate female spectators. And through the wonders of technology, girls and women — just like boys and men — now follow sports anyplace and anytime, with unprecedented ease.

But while women and sports seem closer than ever, elements of the relationship are sometimes hard to reconcile. In our post-Title IX world, the old stereotypes and barriers which historically distanced women and girls from sports are largely gone, but differences persist in the way American males and females participate in, consume and think about sports, which in turn affects health and fitness trends, media imagery and coverage, and strategies for companies trying to turn sports into profitable business ventures. The future of women’s sports will be shaped by the way these differences are addressed and by the effectiveness with which women’s sports proponents can meld the gains of the past 40 years with the needs, sensibilities and realities of today’s world.

I’m intrigued to see where they go with this blog. If they’re trying to target me, they’re in a bit of a conundrum. Why? Because I’m a sports fan who happens to be female.

I’d say I’m a generalist. Obviously, women’s basketball is my major focus, but I kinda like knowing a little about a lot of sports. That means scanning the ESPN and NYTimes sports pages (online) and then clicking on stories that intrigue me (or are about female related sports).

The key here is I go to the Sports Pages — not the Sports Page for Female Fans. I’m not sure why the content on one page should be any different than the content of the other. Except, perhaps, the SPfFF would have a greater tendency to highlight women’s sports. Maybe. Who knows.

As I said, I’m intrigued. But, unless they tag articles in a way that they’ll come to my attention, I don’t know that I’ll make a serious effort to find the blog. Especially if Mechelle and Graham aren’t writing for it. (Which is just stupid.)


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Don’t wannit!

Matt Cozze in Iowa: ESPN set to shake up sports media world

But for espnW to even be labeled a “sub-brand” — and the idea that sports needs to be feminized somehow — is outrageous. The idea that women need a “pinkified” version of sports programming is insulting.

At this point, though, not too many people know about the moniker that is espnW. In fact, when I asked a couple players on the Iowa women’s basketball team, they had no idea about the website.

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With a h/t to FOB Julia, and as a nice companion piece to news that Debbie Yow was moving over to NC State (as one of only  28 female athletic directors at the Division I level) , from the Orlando Sentinel: Women see slow progress for athletic director jobs

There are only eight more Division I female athletic directors today than there were in 1996. Only five are on the FBS level. Only three head BCS programs — that is an all-time high.

Compare that to minority men. In 2009, there were 22 more minority men serving as Division I athletic directors compared to 1996. Today, there are 11 minority men who serve as FBS athletic directors. Five are at BCS schools.

FYI, check out this article from 2006 for more background info: Challenges confronting female intercollegiate athletic directors of NCAA member institutions by division and this one from 2004: 27 Year Study Shows Progression of Women in College Athletics

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if it’s unintended?

From the Freakonomics Blog (The Hidden Side of Everything) at the New York Times: Why Doesn’t ESPN Cover Women?

Women’s sports have become much more popular in recent years.  In 2009, 3.1 million high school-aged girls and 4.4 million high school-aged boys played sports, compared to 294,000 girls and 3.7 million boys in 1971.  However, new research finds that media coverage of women’s sports has dropped considerably.  In 1989, the evening sports news shows devoted 5 percent of their time to women’s sports vs. 92 percent to men’s sports; women’s sports coverage peaked at 8.7 percent in 1999 before dropping to 1.6 percent in 2009.  ESPN’s Sportscenter devoted only 1.4% of its time to women’s sports coverage in 2009.  

Michael Messner, one of the study’s coauthors, thinks that the lack of coverage stems from fear and inertia, rather than commercial reasons: “Men are capable of doing really good sports reporting on women’s sports and a lot of men really like women’s sports. But I think there is a fear on a lot of their parts, if they don’t stay with the big three sports.”

*really long sentence alert. take a deep breath!*

I’ll be interested to see if Freakster Stephen D. — who I met when I was at the WNYC studios a while back because I asked the same question of our local NPR station — responds to my email pointing him to the NY Times writers for their answers.

On a side note, light bulb kinda thing — isn’t it interesting that the athletic gear people seem to be able to tap into the “female market” but the news media can’t?

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(Hey, wipe that smirk off your face!) speaks up: From After Atalanta:

This post is inspired by the 38th anniversary of Title IX which occurred last week. Actually it’s “inspired” by this column by a sportswriter, blogger, and basketball fan. Wendy Parker believes it’s time to get beyond Title IX. Me, too. But not in the way she means. She means it’s time to move beyond enforcement. Because she doesn’t like the proportionality prong. And all those men have suffered at the hands of us “dogmatic” activists with our “life-and-death rituals.” Who knew we were all satanists, too? I thought I was the only one!

Clearly Ms. Parker’s editorial triggered the snarky button (not that it takes much).

Do take a look at the comments, since Ms. Parker responded.

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Interesting: I.O.C. to Seek Gender Equality

The International Olympic Committee says it will be promoting the U.N. goal of equality for women and will be pressing Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei to send female athletes to the 2012 Olympic games for the first time.

The question I have is will those women be allowed to ski jump or play softball?

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From the Title IX blog — another myth v. fact post: Cuts to Men’s Teams and the Shark Attack Phenomenon.

Myth: Coach of Qunnipiac’s former men’s track team: “Ever since the mid 90’s, however, far more men’s programs have been eliminated in the name of Title IX than have been created for women.”

Fact: Title IX Blog: “Both sides of this claim, that Title IX promotes cuts to men, rather than gains for women, are belied by the most recent government study of college athletic participation trends, which was published in 2007 and relies on data through the 2004-2005 school year.”

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