Friday, March 30, 2007

Today in Cleveland

It's been a busy few days here in Cleveland at the Women Rock conference. Hopefully I will write more later. Maybe on the plane tomorrow on the way home. This is just a briefing.
It's been two days of great panels and plenary sessions and, like at most conferences, there are just too many good things going on at once.
Today's highlight, though, was seeing and hearing Billie Jean King at a luncheon. (The talk was actually aired on public radio so you may be able to listen to it as a podcast.) Christine Brennan did the interview part of the program and she was basically throwing BJK some short lobs (to use a tennis metaphor) that she was able to just put away. This was fine.
Unfortunately Brennan lost a lot of my respect when she finished the talk by trying to address an audience member's concern about the growing number of students and student-athletes who have no idea what Title IX is. Brennan tried to spin it as a good thing because it is a sign of progress. In other words, girls and young women don't know what it is because they don't need it--they have opportunities. Most of us in the crowd groaned under our breath--my tablemate actually hissed a little.
First, just because there has been considerable growth in number of opportunities, there are still not equal opportunities, even in collegiate athletics but especially in high school. And two, you are more likely to be a girl in a specific demographic to even begin to be able to think that everything is just fine. White, middle and upper class girls have significantly greater access to sport. Girls of color. lower class girls and disabled girls have never had the kind of opportunities others have enjoyed. There is still plenty of work to be done and part of it involves teaching girls and boys what Title IX is and why it continues to be important.

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