Sunday, June 29, 2008
Found this interesting story about the group in Oregon, SOW (Save Oregon Wrestling), that attempted to bring some attention to its cause by buying ad time on ESPN and ESPNU. The group, which is suing the school for dropping the program and adding competitive cheer and baseball, bought spots to air during the DI wrestling championships. But ESPN execs turned back the ads saying they don't take ads that contain political advocacy or issue-oriented advertising.
Wow--so many issues here. First, SOW is claiming that Oregon had no reason to drop the program: it costs less than the programs they are adding; the department was in compliance with Title IX (I haven't checked out the reality of this situation, though). And in general they seemed pissed off the the athletic director, a man without a college degree, seemed to make the decision unilaterally.
Sounds like SOW has some legitimate gripes--it does suck being low sport on the totem pole, ask most female athletes about it. And it appears that the university itself has something to answer for by hiring an athletic director with questionable (or no??) credentials.
And SOW is getting it from all sides. This editorialist is right when he says that ESPN is being hypocritical about taking the ads. The station(s) runs advertising all the time that is advocacy or issue-based. And the definition of "political" is up for interrogation. Aren't most things political? Wasn't Nike's ad campaign last fall "The best team you've never heard of" political? Didn't it suggest that women's sports get less coverage? That women's soccer lacks a certain amount of popularity and attention?
But it's actually the Nike factor that I think the writer is missing. Nike gives a lot of money to ESPN in terms of advertising dollars--more than SOW certainly. And rumor is that Nike CEO Phil Knight, who gives a lot of money to Oregon as well, was behind some of this restructuring at Oregon. So basically the wrestlers are learning firsthand how control of intercollegiate athletics is firmly in the hands of large corporations.
I don't know exactly what the ads SOW had planned on running were going to say; and usually I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for wrestlers because they keep blaming the wrong people when their programs get cut, but I do think ESPN punked out by not airing them.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Seven of the women who qualified for the Open recently signed contracts with a NY modelling agency. And it has some people--players and fans alike--a little ticked off.
Lorena Ochoa, not one to create controversy, said that being feminine helps to draw fans (ick!) and that there are different ways to go about it but that modelling is not for her. She wants to make her mark on the course.
Apparently there was an incident during a practice round Wednesday when fans cheered a pretty bad tee shot Natalie Gulbis--who is the oft-cited example of the sexification of golf--just because she's Natalie Gulbis. Another player (who no one seems to be naming) admonished the fans for cheering for, basically, cheering for a face rather than talent.
But an issue that I feel is being overlooked here is race. Sure women's golf has always had its issues with image and those "non-feminine" women. But those women were always white. With the huge surge in popularity of the sport in Asia, this is no longer the situation. So when the leaderboard after the first round of the US Open is full of names of players from Asia, American tournament organizers and probably people within the LPGA must just panic. Because golf is marketed to white, middle and upper class people. And there are a lot of people in that demographic who, in addition to not wanting to see lesbians, probably are not so keen on seeing Asian women who are clearly not falling into their two basic conceptions of Asian women: servile or erotic/exotic.
I know a lot of the top Asian players are very popular in their respective countries, but they are not being marketed in the US/North American the way other players are. And you have to wonder why and whether someone will wise up and see that putting less-talented white girls in bikinis is not really an effective way to market your sport.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Since that time I have noticed that he seems to be pretty sexist generally. He frequently takes a very condescending or dismissive tone with the women on the show. How did I miss this? Why didn't anyone tell me to beware? Do I really have to stop watching Jeopardy!?
Last night was pretty egregious though when he said not once--but twice!--when the Final Jeopardy category of Heisman Trophy Winners (I am still waiting for the day when the Final Jeopardy category is Patty Kazmaier Trophy Winners) was mentioned, that it looked like it would be a tough category for the two female contestants.
Right, 'cause women know nothing about football.
Well these two women did. Both got the answer correct (as did the male contestant).
So nahnny nahnny poo-poo, Alex Trebek.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
"But that's on the other side of the river," I thought to myself. And yet as I pulled up to the parking garage and found it full and then found myself in the midst of a green-clad throng of fans I realized it didn't matter that my destination was Cambridge and theirs was downtown. I am not sure if it helped that I too was wearing green yesterday--more grass than kelly. The fans were loud and represented a pretty diverse demographic: men and women of many races, parents, kids, older (no one past middle age that I observed though) and younger; preppy people and those sporting a more hip-hop style. This is what I like about Boston fans--they're diverse.
But generally Boston fans scare me with their fervent fandom. And despite the diversity, it's not as if fandom is bridging any kind of class, racial or even gender divide.
In other Boston news, I read this morning in the free paper that everyone leaves on the subway seats (I recycled mine) that a Northeastern University engineering professor has a plan to join a bunch of the bike paths in the city and into the suburbs. Great idea! I hope the city jumps on it. Time to see if all these politicians talking about ways to reduce gas consumption are ready to put public funds behind their rhetoric. Also, it would be a lot safer for cyclists. Because as much as Boston fans scare me, Boston drivers (except me--I'm an excellent driver!) scare me more. I wouldn't even consider bike commuting in this city if I had to go on any main drag around here.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Anyway this is all to lead into a discussion of the availability of gear for women, which, I know, I have done before. But this month Her Sports + Fitness has their first ever gear guide devoted exclusively to women's gear. I haven't seen it yet. Maybe someone who goes to Barnes and Noble a lot might pick it up for me. It reviews apparel, equipment, and nutrition products/supplements.
Out in Oregon a new women's sportswear company has been founded by a mother of two female athletes. Aries Apparel was started by Diane Marsden who carries gear and apparel for 8 sports: lacrosse, tennis, volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball, golf, and swimming. One thing I really like about Aries--they carry a range of sizes XS-XXL. About freakin' time that a women's sportswear company realizes that female athletes come in all different shapes. [I'm talking to you, Title 9!] Aries has one store in Hillsboro and is opening a second this weekend in Tanasbourne. (Note that I have no idea where these places are but if you live in Oregon perhaps you do.) And you can check out their website at http://www.ariesapparel.com/ (as of now you cannot buy online nor can you see the store's offerings) where you find their cute slogan: "we don't have anything against boys, we just don't want to wear their clothes."
And finally, a while ago a woman who has started a company that makes hockey gear for girls emailed me. She asked me to mention her company and provided a link to the website. She had seen a previous post I did about another such company. But apparently she missed the point of that post where I bemoaned the pinkification of sports where girls' apparel has to be pink or purple and have polka dots so the girls feel better about playing sports such as hockey. I checked out the site. No polka dots but lots of animal prints; some pink. And the athletes are referred to as "ladies" and we know how I feel about that. So, needless to say, I will not be promoting said website.
Monday, June 16, 2008
But here I am cheering for Mediate. Because, after hearing some of his interviews last night, I thought he had great perspective and a great attitude and then I thought, "I think he's a little bit queer." I am not saying he is gay. I don't know anything about the guy except that he's 45 and ranked 158. But he seems a little outside normative masculinity. And I like that--especially in male athletes.
I thought he would get blown away today in the 18-hole playoff against Woods but he's actually leading by 1 with three holes to go.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I love Cambridge though so it's ok. I even love the subway. I love people watching on the subway, which is where this story is going. A college-age female enters the car. She is wearing a UNH t-shirt which makes me smile. (That's my alma mater for anyone who doesn't know.) But I am not the type to say "Do you go to UNH? I went to UNH." which was a good thing because when said young woman got up to exit the car a stop ahead of me I got a glimpse at the back of the shirt:
"Freshman girls. Get them while they're skinny."
So what does this have to do with gender and sports. Well nothing really--I just needed to tell the story.
Though she was carrying a tennis racket bag so she must have been an athlete, which just goes to prove what most of us already know--that female athletes are not necessarily the best feminists. In other words, the sports = empowerment model--not really foolproof. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance going on there.
* you can now get a t-shirt that spells it exactly that way--I didn't though.
Friday, June 13, 2008
That is not what Bernie Lincicome did in a column in Rocky Mountain News a few weeks ago. The piece, called "Female sports heroes vanishing," signs a sad song about how all the good ones like Mia Hamm, Nancy Lopez, Billie Jean King and now Annika Sorenstam and Justine Henin, are leaving and there's no one to take their places. Oh wait there's Danica Patrick and Natalie Gulbis and Maria Sharapova all of whom Lincicome thinks are overrated because their results have not lived up to their looks.
Wait, wait, wait--Maria Sharapova? I don't think winning 3 grand slam tournaments constitutes overratedness. And Gulbis has won a tournament--though she did horribly last weekend in Maryland and of course Patrick won her first race in Japan and was doing well at Indy until she got knocked out.
Lincicome also is disappointed at the lack of discord created (or rather not created) by Sorenstam and Henin's respective retirements which is attributed to their lack of good looks including Henin's "European teeth." Hmmm...so you're going to complain about how female athletes are being judged by their appearance rather than their performances and then talk about their appearances??
Also what Lincicome doesn't understand is that most of the heroes he names are still involved in sports. BJK obviously is just all over the place--more active now than in her playing days and arguably contributing more. I see Nancy Lopez make public appearances to promote the women's game. I don't know what Henin's plans are--she has always been a little more private--but Sorenstam is sticking around the sport. Just as others before her have done in their respective sports.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Disappointed, to put it mildly, the Redmen Forever (I just can't get over that name--it so clearly indicates the the ignorance of this group) sought out a lawyer--an NHS graduate--to write an opinion assessing the legal consequences the district might face if it continued using the name.
And said lawyer concluded that there isn't much risk, especially because at least 60 other high schools in Massachusetts use Native American imagery or nicknames. What was that your parents always said about everyone jumping off the bridge and how many wrongs equal a right?? So basically, Natick should not be worried about being singled out.
And actually, the school district's own lawyers came to a similar conclusion, that federal laws are unlikely to effectively challenge the use of the nickname. Their own report suggested the the biggest threat comes from Titles IX and VI. [That made me think maybe the school needs some new lawyers. Because while I don't know the ins and outs of Title VI, I know that Title IX does not address racial discrimination.]
So no worries, people of Natick, you won't be subject to a lawsuit because, you know, everyone else is doing it. Never mind your own anti-discrimination policy whose spirit--if not actual meaning--you're violating. If you all spent so much time looking into the possibility of legal action then you mus be aware that there is something at least a little bit wrong about using the term Redmen.
Oh, but wait, the Redmen Forever lawyer has suggested that the nickname can be used for good:
"Further, it is within the powers of the School Committee to proclaim that the use of the Redmen name and logo should be used in such a manner as to pay tribute to Native Americans."
'Cause if the school committee declares this is an honor that just wipes out all the history of genocide and discrimination (which is clearly ongoing as well) and all the voices of Native Americans who oppose seeing their traditions and images derogated in the name of school spirit.
Says Native American activist Barbara Munson:
“We see objects sacred to us — such as the drum, eagle feathers, face painting and traditional dress — being used not in sacred ceremony, or in any cultural setting, but in another culture’s game."
It's not an honor.
For more information about Native American mascots check out these Youtube clips: I am not a mascot and Native American Mascots and this PSA out of Wisconsin.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
But no. They aired last year's Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. I already saw that one!
So that was more me whining that the network didn't really fit my schedule. Though I think one could make an argument that they probably wouldn't deign to show a women's match--maybe a Justine Henin classic given her recent retirement?--on the day of the men's final.
But this next one is a real, legitimate gripe and--not surprising--it comes from The Golf Channel, which I had on this weekend to watch the McDonald's** LPGA Tour Championships. Good tournament, by the way; I thought Annika was going to pull it out, but major congratulations to rookie Yani Tseng for making her first tournament win a major. [She had a female caddie by the way which is why, when it came to playoff time, I rooted for her over veteran Maria Hjorth.] Not bad. Paula Creamer is probably cringing in her pink shoes (and skirt and hat and shirt and hair ribbons) and trying to crush those pink balls in her non-major winner hands.
Anyway all weekend I heard about how this coming week is US Open week on The Golf Channel. All US Open, all week. That's the men's US Open by the way. The Women's US Open--and, yes, women is part of the title of the event--is in a couple of weeks. So all week on the GC you can see previews, news, and even watch the final round from 2000 when Tiger won his first Open. So in a few weeks when the women hit the course for their Open do you think the GC will be hosting Women's US Open Week? Yeah, me neither. They just barely seemed to be able to squeeze in the championships this past weekend around coverage of some obscure men's tournament in Europe.
* To my blogger friend, Fat Louie, who has seen an increase in visitors with questionable motives with the emergence of Ivanovic: get used to it. I don't have any pics of Ivanovic up and I still get lots of hits off her and what's really weird is what they're searching for: "Ana Ivanovic armpits." I kid you not. Mind you, I've never commented on her armpits but apparently somewhere else on my blog I have used the word armpits and voila--creepy visitors. They must be quite surprised at what they find when they arrive here.
** Good news for all those who find it pretty disgusting the way McDonalds has tied itself to major sporting events in an attempt to improve its image: The LPGA is buying back the championship in 2010. No more title sponsor--of any kind. More good news: the tournament is moving to the northeast. [Well it's good news for me.] Not so good news (again, for me): it's moving to August and will be the final of the four majors. I have a lot to do in August already. There's the Pilot Pen, the US Open, oh and that pesky work/school thing. Oh well. I shall just revel in the ousting of McDonalds and that silly clown who shows up in the trophy presentation line-up.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Though Laura Robinson does not think the suit will get very far because VANOC is not really the group that, in the end, is preventing the women from competing--it's the IOC--she doesn't really let VANOC or Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) off the hook. Because she sees VANOC's and the COC's protestations that they support women's ski jumping as ringing on the hollow side.
...this practice of claiming great sympathy for the rights of women, while at the same time declaring one's hands are tied, is tedious and irritatingly predictable.
Robinson shares the history of women's ski jumping to show that those whose hands are currently tied had plenty of time--about eight decades to get on board with women's ski jumping. Because, yes, it has a history that goes back further than one might think just listening to the various IOC members who oppose the sport's inclusion. Women were jumping at the same time the men were allowed to jump in the Olympics, 1924. Robinson does an excellent job chronicling women's past accomplishments in umping as well as the backlash against women's sports in general and the more current fights female athletes have had to wage just to get a chance to play.
It is hard to imagine that the Canadian Olympic Committee and organizations such as VANOC can't understand sport history. It is a history filled with discrimination against women - it's their job to change that, not perpetuate it.
And yet as hard as it is to imagine it's just so easy to see everywhere you look.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I still find it stunning that Harkelroad is doing this given her very Christian ways--or at least once upon a time she had very Christian ways. She has talked about how she carries her Bible around with her on tour. And I always assumed her first marriage at a very young age to another tennis pro was motivated by Christian beliefs. Maybe this is what Jesus wants her to do because Playboy, as Harkleroad, says is just "so classy."
An update on the lesbian kiss at Safeco: the AP finally picked up the story, and they quote Pat Griffin. Nothing especially new except that perhaps someone from the Mariners has apologized. But the incident has apparently created quite a stir in Seattle. It's all over the newspapers and airwaves. So I am sure there will be more on this issue.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
They stuck around--to take pictures of all the heteros kissing without any interference from (pseudo)authorities. And to lodge a formal complaint.
I can't figure out if Safeco Field has a "kissing cam" which pans the crowd and if it stops on you--you kiss. Other sports venues certainly do. Regardless of whose kissing is being promoted and whose is demoted, it was blatant discrimination.
This is a pretty tired rant and I am pretty tired myself today so it might not have the full force of my cynicism and rage* behind it but here goes:
To the lady who complained: screw you. The world is not centered around your child--or anyone's child or even children as an entity. If it was we wouldn't have R-rated movies, or explicit lyrics, or half the shows that currently air on television, or war, or hunger that could easily be ended by redistribution of resources. Two women kissing should be the least of your problems. Oh yeah, and it shouldn't even be a problem. If you can come up with an answer to why the sky is blue, you should be able to handle this one, too. Because just like the sky, lesbians and gay people and trans people are out there.
The Mariners are still investigating "the incident" but it seems the details and accusations keeps changing. "Groping" has been added to the list of alleged offenses the couple engaged in.
[h/t to Dr. P for alerting me to the story]
*Pat Griffin over at her It Takes a Team blog was clearly feeling far less tired as her post on the issue exhibits a level of biting wit and cynicism that I can only envy and stand back and admire.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Right. Then don't do it on television either.
Last time we were the away team. Tonight we are the home team. That means that we bring the snacks. I am an excellent snack bringer. Besides my wicked backhand return, I think my team keeps me around because I bake. And I never bring the same thing twice. (Though I did make excellent peanut butter fudge oatmeal bars last season that I may bring back for a repeat performance at some point.)
But as I thought ahead to buying jam for oatmeal raspberry bars, I came across some information about women's sports--their origins and some of the continued practices. I was reading Playing with the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sport--because yes, I finally got past page 20.* And I read about how in the early days of competition in women's sports--mostly at women's colleges, the home team served refreshments afterwards to, the authors contend, deemphasize the competitive aspect of the activity. This was not necessarily surprising news to me. I knew the social aspects of sport were very much stressed.
But my cognitive dissonance suddenly became less dissonant when I moaned after reading that the practice can still be seen in, for example, recreational league tennis where the home team is responsible for providing snacks and beverages after a match. This is not a practice, the authors claim, in men's league tennis. [I don't think this is universally true. My father plays league tennis and I know post-match refreshment is often present--sometimes it's just beer and chips and salsa but I consider it snacks and beverages.]
But the long of the short of it is that I make snacks to feed the visiting ladies. But here's the thing: I could stop and say "this is a vestige of patriarchal pressure to keep women's sports inferior and I'm just not going to do it." But I happen to believe that the social aspects of sport should be stressed. Stressed over competition? No--but stressed equally. I like competing but I like socializing too. Sports are how I meet people. When my girlfriend and I moved a few years ago to a place where we knew very few people--one actually--we got involved in sports. (We had always been involved in sports but we knew here we would be doing so to meet people.) So now between us we play tennis, hockey, softball. We cycle, we go to the gym, we tried crew but stopped not because of the sport, which we enjoyed, but because we didn't like the people. And most of our friends are from those activities. We're even in the process of taking up golf--largely for the social aspects of it--but also for the challenge of learning a new sport.
So I guess there really isn't much of a quandary.
I have to go bake now.
* I will be writing a more thorough post on it later this week hopefully. It will not be pretty. It is a very flawed book.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
But the real reason for this post is something one of the commentators said this evening in the early innings of the A&M/Florida game (we're now in extra innings). I think it was Beth Mowins--it doesn't really matter, though--who mentioned that Florida has only been playing softball for 12 years. In other words, it's a fairly new program without a storied history like some of the other teams in the series. But then she said that the SEC has really grown softball when, in the early 90s, some SEC schools took their football money and started softball programs.
Several problems with this statement. One, I'm not sure how true it actually is. It certainly is not true that the SEC just woke up in the 90s and said, "hey all this money we're making from football--let's give it the girls; just 'cause we like 'em." It's not a coincidence that softball programs grew at a time when Title IX started to actually be enforced. Also, it's not necessarily true that football funds women's sports. Football often cannot even support itself. Granted some SEC schools have big revenue-producing football programs. But it does not mean that all the revenue they generate covers their own expenses let alone those of women's sports. In fact the recent NCAA report on athletic department profits suggests that even fewer schools than previously thought have athletic departments that are self-sustaining.
Also problematic with the statement is the belief that revenue generated by football is somehow football's to do with as it pleases. Remember--these are educational institutions, non-profits. The money does not belong to football. It goes back to the institution.
On a different note, who is this guy John Kruk doing the commentating? What a loser. Seriously, where did they find him? [He's actually an ESPN baseball analyst. What there isn't enough baseball going on right now between the men's college world series and professional baseball to give him something to do elsewhere?] He clearly doesn't know anything about softball; something he himself makes evident over and over again. One of his most egregious repetitions is his reference to "the women's game." He's not comparing women's and men's softball here, folks. He's a former baseball player and he thinks he's watching the women's (i.e. inferior) version of baseball. He's not. I'll say it again: softball is not baseball. Softball is doing itself a disservice to perpetuate some kind of symbiotic relationship to baseball. This includes using oafish former baseball players to comment upon a game they know nothing about.
Head coach of the Gators, Tim Murphy, is not surprised at the success of his team, of course. He said the other day that the athletic department does an exceptional job supporting the softball program. He said they have just as many resources as the football team.
Hmmm...interesting comparison. Now, I don't know what things are like in Florida, and most teams that make it to the WCWS have to be well-supported by their universities. But as well as the DI football program?
I suppose it could be true--or at least the softball team could think it is true. But think about this: Dr. Christine Grant, Title IX and women's sports advocate and former women's athletic director at University of Iowa, has said about Title IX compliance and distribution of resources that things are equitable when the football team agrees to the treatment of a women's team, say a softball team.
So would the University of Florida football team find the treatment of and conditions in which the softball team plays, trains, and travels acceptable? If yes, then Florida earns many kudos. If no, then the softball team might need to readjust its thinking.