Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Does anyone have a wall?

Because I need to hit my head on it repeatedly after reading this column by Arizona Star sports columnist Greg Hansen. Hansen is down on the decision by University of Arizona to add water polo to their list of women's varsity sports in an attempt to bring their numbers closer to proportional.
Hansen doesn't like this idea because water polo isn't played in Arizona high schools nor does it generate revenue. There are plenty of holes in both these reasons (schools might start to add teams if they know they can feed their athletes to their own state university and it CAN be made into a revenue-generating sport with the right financial support and publicity).
But the most egregious moments come when Hansen praises Title IX for offering opportunities--especially to Arizona athletes but then condemns Title IX activists for asking for too much saying that we should "stop digging for more." He has even found an alleged Title IX activist who says she thinks, given football's huge numbers, we have reached equality.
But the worst moment comes when Hansen perpetuates one of the most common and damaging beliefs about Title IX and football: "football pays for women's sports on almost every college campus in America." No. No. NO!
Football rarely pays for itself let alone other programs. Read some of the work economist Andrew Zimbalist has done on the economics of intercollegiate sport and one can easily discover this. I have seen various statistics but according to sport sociologist Jay Coakley only about 30 institutions have football programs that do not run in the red.
Unfortunately many commenters to Hansen's article also held the same belief. Other commenters were just plain misogynist. So if you're plenty disgusted after reading Hansen's column I do not recommend checking out what some of his readers had to say.
What is especially sad about this column is that Hansen did not bother to check his facts. His editors did not bother to check out if what he was saying was correct. Why? Maybe because "it's just women's sports." Maybe because they could not even fathom that football, the manly man's sport, does not support women's sports.
I do know that if I did my job this poorly, I would be fired.

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