Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MTB On Title IX

Madison Hackman did something in a 7th/8th grade girls basketball game Sunday afternoon that TigerBlog has rarely seen anywhere else, on any level.

With her team down 5-0 early, Madison knocked down a three-pointer, got fouled in the process and then made the foul shot for a four-point play. Ultimately, her team would win 22-17.

TB is one of the two coaches for Madison's team, one that features Miss TigerBlog, as well as girls named Bridgid, Maura, Maya, Becky, Emily, Riley and Nadia, in case you were wondering what people were naming their girls 12 or 13 years ago or so.

The team is 5-9, though it is 4-4 in its last eight games and has gotten way better since the start of the year.

The plan originally was to try to run some very rudimentary elements of the Princeton offense, a plan that was scrapped in favor of a more John Chaney-centric approach, which means one focused always on defense first with just enough offense to get by.

TB understands full well that these are middle schoolers, so things like missed layups or bad passes or balls dribbled off feet don't bother him. What does bother him is a lack of effort, something that everyone can control.

Opening day was a 41-9 loss to a team that, the second time around, escaped with a 30-21 win - and that after a 10-0 run to start the game. TB called timeout when it was 10-0 and basically said "you have to try," because if they don't want to try, what's the point?

Oh, and he borrowed a great line from former Princeton men's basketball coach Joe Scott during that game Sunday, when he tried to get one of the girls to understand that she wasn't doing enough to take the ball from the girl she was guarding. Quoting Scott, TB said this: "You friends with that girl? No? Then take the ball away." The result by the way, was a steal and layup.

TB has coached boys and girls, and he's coached them both basically the same way. He can't remember thinking to himself at any point that he had to coach girls differently than boys; in fact, he finds the idea somewhat offensive.

Maybe it's his years and years of working here at Princeton, where the words "gender equity" are never spoken, largely because they don't have to be. It's just the law of the land here, something that is intrinsic in everything that is done, and everyone either has to buy in or keep it to himself.

As for his own Title IX-compliant children, TigerBlog Jr. and MTB have had the same access to playing sports. In fact, MTB has played a great number of them, having participated in soccer and tennis earlier and now playing field hockey, basketball and lacrosse.

TigerBlog knows full well that before Title IX, things were different.

In fact, in 1972, before Title IX became the law, there were roughly 3.7 million boys playing high school sports and fewer than 300,000 girls.

How does TB know this? He read it in MTB's paper on Title IX.

The assignment was to write a research paper on any topic the kids in the class wanted, and MTB chose Title IX.

To help her, TigerBlog put her in touch with Chris Sailer, the women's lacrosse coach at Princeton.

Sailer spoke to (a very nervous) MTB for about 10 minutes one night as MTB asked her questions about her own experiences with Title IX.

It was a pretty fascinating conversation.

See, it's really easy to forget the impact the law had when your main frame of reference is how things are now or how they've been for the last 20 years or so.

Going back before then, though, there was real discrimination against women athletically, and it was up to people like Chris Sailer to help change that. As a result, there are so many more opportunities for women athletes in college now, not to mention girls MTB's age.

Anyway, with help from Chris Sailer, here is MTB's paper on Title IX. A guest TigerBlog, of sorts:

Title IX
 There are many women in the U.S. and around the world who are phenomenal athletes and have very successful sports careers. There weren’t always so many opportunities for women to play sports, however. Up until 1972, women were discriminated against because of their gender, and could not participate in sports as much as boys. If they were on a sports team, girls did not have as nice equipment and uniforms, and had inconvenient traveling arrangements, unlike the boys. Then, in 1972 a federal law called Title IX was enforced. Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, under the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Title IX prohibits discrimination against girls and boys, women and men, students and employees, in all levels of education. It applies to all institutions with education programs and activities that receive federal aid. For example, it prohibits gender discrimination in faculties, access to courses, athletic and academic opportunities, career guidance, student financial aid, health and insurance benefits, and employment in educational institutions (“State Title IX Gender Equity Coordinators, Methods of Administration Coordinators & other State level Gender Equity Experts”). Since Title IX was enforced in 1972, women have been gaining more and more opportunities in education and in sports and have proven to the world that they are as equally talented as men. The opportunities for women and men in education in sports before and after Title IX show the impact it made on many young students and athletes.
First, before Title IX, women had very little equality, especially in athletics. In 1971 a high school athletic participation poll was taken, and 3,666,917 boys participated in high school sports in the United States, while only 294,015 girls did (“From ‘To Secure These Rights’ to Title IX”). Before Title IX, most women were unlucky with their sports careers.  “I was lucky to grow up outside of Philadelphia,” said Princeton University women’s lacrosse coach Chris Sailer, who was an athlete before Title IX. “I had a lot of opportunities in school and out of school. That was really unusual. Many women my age tell me that they had no opportunities. There were no sports available. I also hear that some coaches my age had to put over four girls in one hotel room when they traveled. They had no money for food on the road, and they traveled in vans” (Sailer) Before Title IX the primary physical activities for girls were cheerleading and square-dancing. Only one in 27 girls played high school sports. There were virtually no college scholarships for female athletes. Female college athletes received only two percent of overall athletic budgets (“Athletics under Title IX”). Even the best of athletes were affected by this discrimination. For example, after winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, Donna De Varona could not obtain a college swimming scholarship. For women, college swimming scholarships did not exist (“Title IX Before and After”). Even though women had equal talents, they did not get the same treatment as men did.
There was also discrimination against genders in schools before Title IX. Many schools had separate entrances for men and women. Female students were not allowed to take certain courses such as auto mechanics or criminal justice; male students could not take home economics. Most medical and law schools limited the number of women admitted to 15 or fewer per school. Many colleges and universities required women to have higher test scores and better grades than male applicants in order to gain admission. Also, women who were living on campus were not allowed to go out past midnight. Women faculty members were excluded from faculty clubs and encouraged to join faculty wives’ clubs instead (“Title IX Before and After”). Women had to work much harder than men to succeed in the workplace.
Next, opportunities for men and women changed after Title IX was enforced. Gradually, women got more opportunities to succeed in athletics and in the workplace. Coach Sailer, whose life was changed by Title IX and who went to Harvard University, said, “Title IX had a huge impact on my life, first as an athlete, then as a coach. I went to an Ivy League school and was already ahead of the curve. We were very lucky again. We had access to good fields and practice clothes. There’s also no question that because of Title IX there are so many more opportunities for women as coaching.” (Sailer)
Noticeable improvements in the opportunities given to female athletics can be seen at any level, including high school, college, and professional sports. For example, Title IX has helped augment the number of women’s intercollegiate sports teams from 32,000 in a few years prior to its passage, to about 150,000 teams today. Also, in 1994, the number of women athletes was 2,124,755; a huge increase from 294,015 in 1971. Title IX really opened up sports opportunities for women (“From ‘To Secure These Rights’ to Title IX”).
Beyond sports, Title IX had an immense effect on the opportunities for females. Since 1970, the percentage of female doctoral degrees has shot up from a mere 13.3 percent to about 50 percent in 2001- an improvement that no one expected. More than just permission to play sports, Title IX put women in equal footing to men (“From ‘To Secure These Rights’ to Title IX”). Another improvement in women’s education was in 1994, where 63% of female high school graduates were enrolled in college, which is an improvement from 43% in 1973 (“Title IX Before and After”).
In conclusion, the opportunities for women and men before and after Title IX show the impact it made on many young athletes and students. Before Title IX, women had practically no sports opportunities and no opportunities in education. But after it was enforced in 1972, women began to have more opportunities in education and athletics. Women like soccer player Abby Wambach and gynmast Gabby Douglas show the world that women can be great athletes, just like men. People should not be judged by their gender, but by their abilities and their character.

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