Saturday, June 03, 2006

Picking who to root for

The Women College World Series is this weekend--action began on Thursday and it was a great day of softball. But of course given that my team lost in the regionals several weeks ago, I am left figuring out who to root for. I have chosen Northwestern because 1) they're the only Big Ten team to make it through to the final weekend, 2) they had an amazing win over Alabama on Thursday, 3) I really like their coach, and 4) they have a very visible, positive team dynamic and oodles of unbridled enthusiasm.
But there are other games to watch of course and because I come to softball fandom with a tennis fan mindset, I have to have a favorite--or at least a leaning--for all the games. Thursday's game between Texas and Arizona State was hard to pick though. Pretty much anything Texas makes me a little queasy and I am not--unlike everyone else--a Cat Osterman fan. I don't know why. I do like her better than Jenny Finch however, because I think she is a better pitcher.
So I was ready to root for Arizona State but then I caught wind--sometimes those commentators who talk way too much are actually good for something--of how ASU got their new coach: the old boys network. First year head coach Clint Myers was coaching BASEBALL at Central Arizona College and got this gig because UArizona head coach Mike Candreas is a friend and recommended him for the job. This is a pretty high profile coaching job; ASU has a strong softball program that includes NCAA titles.
Women in head coaching positions are, since the passage of Title IX in 1972, on the DECREASE. Why? Well for numerous reasons--one of which is that coaching women's sports has become more lucrative and prestigious. So when jobs become available the network of male coaches and male athletic directors and other administrators doesn't have to go very far to find candidates.
And let's not forget that new head coaches frequently bring with them all new staffs. This was the case for Myers who hired former Washington asst. coach Robert Wagner and also took a former ASU player. So one female on the coaching staff of a sport men don't even play collegiately.
Myers actually has softball coaching experience and I don't know enough about the technical aspects of the game to really assess how different the two sports are to coach. But if so many former baseball players can coach softball then wouldn't it hold that former softball players should be filtering in to baseball coaching? And yet--they're not. The boundary seems to be impermeable for female coaches. So when someone like Clint Myers gets a job in the way that he did it makes me a little grouchy and makes my decision about how to root for a little easier.
Plus he really pissed me off when he said the main difference in coaching softball has been getting used to the hair and make-up routine of his players. Apparently it is much easier for Myers to get used to all the homoeroticism in baseball than women who wear ponytails and eyeliner.

1 comment:

Amateur said...

A small correction, ken: "Women in head coaching positions are, since the passage of Title IX in 1972, on the DECREASE."

There are many, many more female coaches in the NCAA than there were before the adoption of Title IX. But the increase in the number of female coaches has not kept pace with the number of female athletes; therefore the relative percentage of female coaches has decreased (dramatically).

Reference: "Female athletes are half as likely to have female coaches today than they were before enactment of Title IX in 1972, even though there are 10 times more female athletes to feed the pipeline to coaching, according to a Penn State study."

In other words, there are ten times as many female athletes, but only five times as many female coaches.