Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Or it will be back in spring 2008--a start date chosen to hold the interest of fans after the 2007 FIFA World Cup in China. Six investors have signed on to 5 markets with the 6th locale to be determined. (Please let it be Boston. Please let it be Boston. And please let Abby Wambach be on the closest possible team to me.)
I was so sad when the WUSA collapsed. And now I am so happy! I hope this new venture really takes off.
Monday, February 26, 2007
In some sports this does not happen--like football and men's and women's basketball--where full scholarships are awarded.
But in other sports there are more limits, with, says the author, fewer limits on women's sports because of Title IX.
In actuality, women in collegiate sports receive less scholarship dollars than male athletes. It may look like women's soccer has more scholarships than it's "equivalent" men's soccer team, but it is not a comparison of like with like but with total dollars. And because so many total scholarship dollars go to men's football, other men's sports like soccer and baseball and track, etc. appear to be getting less than women's sports. In actuality, everyone is getting less than football.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I did not know what to expect really having only acquired snippets of information (mostly in the form of images) of roller derby over the years.
The main differences I found (between my hodgepodge collection of memories and the reality) was that this was flat track roller derby, it was not as fast, and there was not as much contact as I expected.
This was disappointing. The group is kind of new so part of the lack of action and speed may be skill level and not reflect all roller derby. Most of the time they looked a little shaky and though I know there was strategy involved it seemed more like luck than skill when a team scored a point.
What I did learn was that, yes, there is scoring and there is strategy. And the scoring and strategy was taken seriously--it was not just a front for having women on roller skates in short skirts and shorts.
This, along with the variety of body types that are welcomed in roller derby, was encouraging. The variety of people who show up to watch roller derby also reflects the wide appeal of the sport.
Unfortunately the execution of the event, from the lousy PA system to the poor set-up of the gymnasium that limited the action one was able to see, and the not exactly high skill level of the participants made for a frustrating evening.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
As happy as I am to hear the news, I am a little disappointed that it appears the decision was not really due to any feminist activism. This is in part because there has been little feminist activism around the issue. Venus Williams wrote a good editorial about it last year before the tournament began and every year the media gets a quote or two from a female player who says something along the lines of "yeah, it's not fair; we should be paid the same as the men." No one takes it any further or even discusses the possibility of taking it any further.
Gone are the days of Billie Jean King organized boycotts.
It appears that Wimbledon finally caved because the British Olympic Committee was worried about the embarrassment of having Wimbledon be the tennis venue for the 2012 Olympics and still be perpetuating gender inequality.
But the All-England Club chairman is describing it a natural progression that began with BJK in the late 1960s. But very few seem to be buying that given that a vote taken on this issue last year was no where near approving equal prize money.
In the end, even though the pressure was not from the collective power of the women's tour members, I am glad the right decision was made.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
I was fairly excited by the news, so when my tennis teammate, an Illinois alum, started to say "this weekend University of Illinois decided--" and I finished "get rid of their mascot!" The glee in my voice though did not match that of her own who said something about "80-year old tradition" and "not really offensive." I forget that even though I now live in a very liberal part of the country, "liberal" philosophy only goes so far. Especially when we are talking about "tradition" after all. So I trotted out, hopefully in a non-pedantic way, why Native American mascots are offensive, how what UI presented as their tradition was not really respectful of Native American tradition, how the "dance" and the mascot itself did not really foster any kind of understanding of the culture of Native Americans in Illinois, and finally how even if a school itself does not mean to be offensive (though the ignorance defense does not fly with me) rival schools use the mascot in offensive ways by portraying lynchings and rape (as seen in the above picture).
NPR ran a segment on the decision and interviewed one of the former portrayers of Chief Illiniwek who is the spokesperson for the Council of Chiefs--a group of former chief portrayers. Unfortunately Michele Norris did not ask any kind of probing questions like "what made you qualified to portray the chief? are you familiar with Illini traditions? are you a Native American studies scholar?" [UI does have an American Indian Studies program and it issued its own brief statement supporting the decision but noting that it does not change the campus climate that allowed the mascot to exist for so long.]
Saturday, February 17, 2007
But the women ski jumpers have not backed down and recently filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in an attempt to force the International Olympic Committee to add women's ski jumping to the program in Vancouver in 2010. Because the Olympics are funded, in part, by Canadian federal monies, the jumpers contend that excluding the sport amounts to gender discrimination which is illegal, of course, in Canada.
It is an interesting strategy but it reads like what it truly is: a last-ditch effort. The CHRC seemingly has little actual power; it is only a "quasi-judicial body" and though it might voice a strong objection to the exclusion or pass the complaint on to some other federal body, it is difficult to imagine the IOC backing down--especially given that they have already said women would compete in ski jumping in 2014--when it feels there will be stronger competition.
Hard to see how women's hockey made it in under that rationale. Until Torino every Olympic and World Championship gold medal game had been a contest between Canada and the United States (which are also the countries which have produced the top women ski jumpers to date).
Ski jumping seems to be suffering a little from its relative obscurity. Indeed it is a gender issue and very much counter to an Olympic ideal of fairness, but it is harder to get people to rally around something they only see every four years.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how CHRC responds to the complaint.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I got a notice today called "Nike Love" that invited me to watch three short films about love and sports--specifically youth sports. It seemed to be a "support youth sports programs" kind of message.
The first was animated and featured a desolate boy of color (tattered clothes, unkempt hair)seemingly from some non-US place. He is kicking along a can in the street, very bored. He comes across a lantern which he rubs and of course pops up the genie offering three wishes which can include anything like a car or money. But the boy wishes for a basketball which the genie gives him. The boy runs off to play with his basketball forgoing his other two wishes much to the genie's puzzlement.
The boy's race and apparent class status are unavoidable markers in this "film." It plays into the belief that the only way boys of color can get out of poverty is through sport and that it is a noble way--evidenced by the fact that the boy could have changed his present situation by just wishing for money.
The second piece is a little more innocuous. The third is bizarre. It features a pig having nightmares about being roasted on a spit or turned into bacon. The nightmare becomes a good dream when he is turned into a football and goes sailing through the goalposts. This one also makes one think footballs are made out of actual pigs. They are not--they are made of either rubber or cowhide.
One of the more obvious drawbacks in the film series is the absence of any girls who are interested in sports. Nike has done plenty of campaigns aimed at girls and women, but they just can't seem to grasp the concept of incorporating women into all their campaigns rather than keeping them completely segregated.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The stereotypes they are breaking though of what a fit athlete really is. And I wonder how radical a notion it is considering there have been large male athletes around since--well forever. Some sports require larger bodies. But that has always been recognized in men's sports.
What the article does not acknowledge, but these other articles about the sexualization of female athletes do, is that the larger female athlete does not conform to appropriate femininity and that may not hurt her basketball game but it hurts her endorsement potential.
This one is the good one about the lack of media coverage of female athletes (only 8% of total sports coverage). It acknowledges that many female athletes use their sex appeal to gain recognition but, through Donna Lopiano's comments, does not necessarily approve of this as a viable tactic for increasing the popularity of women's sports overall.
This article--or editorial--is the bad one. It's basically one of those hackneyed "men will be men and we like looking at sexy women" diatribes. Why do we give female athletes crap over posing when we don't do the same for Hollywood stars? And then of course the author thinks he has the ultimate evidence that the double standard is ok because he has a female athlete--volleyballer Rachel Wacholder--saying that it's an American issue because in Europe nudity is everywhere and it's just accepted.
Jeez, I wish someone had told me the patriarchy had been overthrown in Europe. There's a little bit of context missing here.
Oh the final nail in the the prude's coffin, according to article: women think Tom Brady is sexy.
What the author fails to note is that even if he was not sexy to women (and the author does not mention that a whole lot of men find Brady sexy too) his athletic ability would not be called into question, he would still be well-paid for his work, and he would still be widely recognized.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Here are some links to articles about how people are celebrating and why we still need a special day:
- Because it's still hard to sell people on the value of women's sports
- Some background on the day from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
- From the YWCA which also includes (I guess for next year at this point) suggestions for planning your own celebration.
- What the WNBA team the Minnesota Lynx were planning
- The essay contest announced yesterday in honor of the day by the Seattle Storm (deadline not until April 16 if you know any interested 4th-8th graders)
- A story about Olympian Katie King and other female ice hockey players and what they had to do just to be allowed to play ice hockey. They appeared at a Massachusetts elementary school yesterday to tell their stories.
There are many more stories about colleges and local entities running clinics or having speakers. All in all it seems like awareness of girls' and women's sports was up--for a day anyway. But drawing on something the Guerrilla Girls said about Black History and Women's History Month--what happens the rest of the year?
Monday, February 05, 2007
Note the irony that Guilford College is a Quaker college--the are called, in fact, The Quakers. And the school, located in Greensboro, NC has "a national reputation for its emphasis on social justice and nonviolence."
But only 3 of the 15 students have been charged and they are all out on bail and ATTENDING CLASSES. School administrators are calling the incident an altercation, with no mention of what it really was: a hate crime.
A letter from representatives of two groups, Greensboro Justice Fund and Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, would like concerned peoples to contact college administrators and encourage them to take the following actions:
Kent Chabotar, President: email@example.com, 336-316-2146
Aaron Fetrow, Dean of Campus Life: firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-316-2133
Ask them to use this opportunity to manifest Guilford's well-deserved historical reputation for peace-making and social justice:
1. This must be cast internally and publicly as an investigation of a hate crime. Though all human interactions are complicated, this one very clearly had ethnically-motivated perpetrators acting on victims.
2. The victims must be supported and protected from further abuse, both physical and emotional. Good medical care, counselling, advocacy, and a public apology must be provided to them. We suggest their parents should be flown in if possible to give them support and they should have advocates of their choice at all meetings with officials.
3. The perpetrators must face consequences from the institution if there is to be any effective deterrence of such a crime on campus.
4. A full investigation should be made not only of the incident itself, but of the institutional culture and attitudes that promoted it. These things don't happen in a social vacuum. Scapegoats are socially chosen and their abuse supported by those with power.
5. There must be, even as the investigation proceeds, an institutional process of educating all on campus about respect vs. hate, especially in these times of nation-wide anti-Arab bigotry.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
A story such as this one about the availability of varsity sports at the collegiate level for student-athletes with physical disabilities highlights the Othering of disability and sport.
Only 11 universities offer varsity sports for disabled athletes. And most of those have to raise money to keep their programs going.
Can you imagine the increase in access to sport if persons with disabilities had something similar to Title IX? The legal battles that have been fought already over access to sport for the differently-abled are immense. (The Paralympics has had many legal encounters with the International Olympic Committee over copyright and access and made only minimal advances with the help of legislation.)
But because oftentimes disabled sports are seen as solely meant to "lift the spirits" of the disabled, or as occasional events, the possibility that some disabled athletes want to participate in sport at a high level of competition is frequently overlooked (or ignored). The idea that the able-bodied might want to seriously compete in their chosen sport is rarely questioned today.
More competitive opportunities, and more opportunities generally, for disabled athletes are needed. Not because the able-bodied (who are largely in control of sport) should be more magnanimous but because access to sport should not be a privilege of ability.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The links are as follows:
from the Knight COmmission website:
or from iTunes:
But surprise!--he has been excited to see the progress in women's sports since his school days. He credits Title IX--though spreads some misinformation about how a school achieves compliance. (He has the three prongs but implies that all three need to be met for compliance.)
But overall he portrays women's sports as so bad before that there is the implication of "nowhere to go but up."
He also measures progress using hegemonic sport as a model. For example, girls' sports must be better because girls are now practicing their sport year-round. He also recognizes the high level of coaching in both girls' and boys' athletics. But he fails to note that after the passage of Title IX the number of women's coaches dramatically--over 50 percent in some sports. Because of the belief that women were not as qualified and the increase in salaries that made coaching women's sports more lucrative and this respectable. Also, it's much easier to be a good coach when you have what you need like equipment, facilities, assistant coaches, etc.
I like seeing, in print, praise for girls' and women's sports, but not when it comes in the form of "it was once so bad but now it's more enjoyable--like men's sports."