Friday, October 31, 2008

Equal prize money at X Games

Winter X Games 13 is approaching and I guess I just assumed that the prize money was already equal--but apparently not. How naive of me. My assumption that an alternative sporting event that began in the Title IX era (not so alternative anymore, I realize) would actually start from a premise of equality clearly lacked some critical thinking.
Anyway, organizers have promised equal prize money for men and women this winter after discussions with various organizations including the Women's Sports Foundation. Rationale is slightly irksome though.
According to the PR person for the games Katie Moses Swope "Really, over recent years, with the recent successes in women's sport, we decided to recognize their talent with an equal purse."
Um, is that a compliment? So what you're saying to those women who competed in the first X Games over a decade ago was that they just were not good enough.
Or that any woman who ever played sports until just a few year ago didn't deserve equal compensation.
This rhetoric was used recently when the first women were inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame. It's a "they're ready now" rationale that puts it all on the women and their alleged past inferior performance rather than the system that still values men's sports over women's and generally will not reward women's sports (monetarily and in other ways such as media coverage and serious consideration of their sports) in the same way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I want to see this

WaPo has a piece on a new art exhibit currently showing in LA (bummer for me). It's called Hard Targets: Masculinity and Sports, and it sounds fascinating. It's in LA until the start of 2009. Can't find where it may be headed next but I am hoping it is somewhere on the east coast.
The article details the various installments. I, personally, am quite intrigued by this one:
Feminism and race intersect in Mark Bradford's basketball video "Practice." Bradford, who is tall and black, enacts an absurdist ballet about race-based assumptions -- you should play basketball -- by shooting hoops in a dress made with a massive, awkward bustle (conspicuously fashioned in L.A. Lakers-like gold and purple). Struggling to find his shot while literally wrestling his outfit, Bradford speaks to the history of constricting women's wear and, metaphorically, women's roles, even as he speaks to similar constraints of race.

If you're interested in reading more about the intersection of art and sport, check out what Sean Smith has been doing over at sportsBabel.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marie Tuite P.S.

Ebuz over at the Title IX Blog was nice enough to inform me that indeed the departure of Marie Tuite from the University of Washington athletic department was no big loss. Apparently during the scandals involving the football players and sexual assault and other crimes, Tuite was part of the community-wide cover up/downplaying of these events. She recommended community service instead of suspension for one of the offending players who committed sexual assault. And was generally dismissive of a female student who reported sexual assault against her by a player.
I don't think Tuite has much of a case for keeping her job.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More new blogs

So I found Because I Played Sports the other day and was pleased. And now I keep finding more blogs that I never knew about.

First, there's Women Like Sports. Blogger Apryl Delancey blogs about her own fandom. Unfortunately from what I have seen she blogs mostly about men's sports. Though Delancey does appear to be a regular reader of Because I Played Sports and links to the blog and highlights the stories there.

Then there's Girls Dig Sports. It's a little slicker looking than most of the blogs on women's sports and, again, the content seems to be focused on men's sports. So these two will not make it on the blogroll just yet. I really hope both cover more women's sports, because it would be pretty disappointing if when we talk about women liking sports, we're only talking about men's sports.

A little more to my liking is Women Play Sports, though it has not been updated since the beginning of September. Hopefully Dr. Oh No Romo will get back on track.

Also looking promising is Athletic Women Blog that highlights various stories both mainstream and now. I find it heartening when a sports blog uses "feminism" as a tag for entries.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kicker gets to kick

So a high school girl, Kacy Stuart, down in Georgia wanted to play football for her high school. But they wouldn't let her. Then her mother advocated on her daughter's behalf (i.e., raised some hell) and now Stuart is playing. Other schools are not so happy about this and Bible verses have been uttered in defense of all-boy football.
Because I Played Sports chronicles the story so I won't go into further detail that you can find there. No word yet on what exactly compelled the school to allow Stuart to kick. It wasn't Title IX because it does not apply to contact sports. Maybe they just didn't like the publicity--of which they were receiving a lot.
But here's the thing...Stuart plays for New Creation Center Crusaders. It's a private, Christian school. It is, according to its website, "non-denominational." When someone says they are Christina non-denominational that is usually code for Pentecostal. This may not be the case at New Creation Center, but even if it's not, Stuart is trying to play a traditionally masculine game at a Christian school--in the south. Its non-discrimination policy does not include gender. Let me repeat that: the school's non-discrimination policy (which covers things like athletics) does not include gender.
I am glad the Stuarts won their fight against the school and that Kacy is playing football, but I don't have much sympathy for them generally. If you want your female child to have equal opportunities try sending her to a school that actually believes in gender equality.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New (to me) blog

Check out Because I Played Sports, I blog I recently found (via Women's Sports Blog). Because I Played, run by former b-baller Megan Hueter, attempts to fill some of the void on the internet about women's sports.
She has some of my favorite blogs on her blogroll. Unfortunately this one is not one them, but maybe someday my little blog will be up there, too.
Tomorrow (or some time in the near future) I will comment on a story Because I Played has been following about a female placekicker on a GA high school football team.

Probably not so curious after all

I wrote recently about the dismissal of the senior women's athletic administrator at University of Washington and wondered if there might be something amiss in the firing and if we might see a lawsuit for wrongful termination, perhaps with a Title IX angle.
But it appears that it was just a cleaning house move. UW athletics has had a not so good time of it lately mired in some controversy and apparently bad leadership. The new AD Scott Woodward hired a new SWA, Stephanie Rempe who is replacing the apparently resigned (there is some confusion over whether she was fired) Marie Tuite, who had been at UW for more than a decade. Rempe, from University of Oklahoma, takes over in about a month.
Of course it's still possible that Tuite could file a retaliation suit. The only potential dirt I could find on her was that she may or may not have ignored a situation of drug abuse on the softball team a few years back. I mean if you can win a multi-million dollar retaliation judgment after you have taken vicodin from your own players, you should be able to get something even if you turned a blind eye to drug use among student-athletes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thoughts from the "feminist left"

Greta van Susteren of FOX News interviewed former MA governor Jayne Swift about Sarah Palin and the attacks on her by the "feminist left." That same feminist left that has allegedly hijacked feminism. Note though that some feminists from various chapters of NOW and a former Ms. magazine editor have supported Palin and those are feminists who, at least once upon a time, would have been considered part of the feminist left. Hard to believe that some women left NOW in the 60s and 70s because it was considered too radical in its stance on abortion and reproductive rights.
So Swift gets on van Susteren's show to say how feminists exist at all points on the political spectrum and all feminists believe in fairness in a campaign, yada, yada. So van Susteren asks her well, "what is a feminist" and Swift replies:
I think a feminist is someone who believes that women should have equal opportunity to men. I think it is someone who understands that Title IX allowed girls to participate in athletics and compete at the same level and in the same numbers that boys do. And I think that it is someone like me, like Governor Palin, who hopes that our daughters, if they work hard and play by the rules, can do virtually anything they want to in their life.
[You had been waiting for when I would get to the sport stuff, I bet.]
The Sarah Palin/Title IX connection has been nauseating. (Title IX Blog has done some blogging on it as has the Huffington Post.) Palin was a point guard in high school and she attributes her success in leadership to her athletic experiences.
Not sure if Swift played/plays sports but she doesn't quite have her Title IX facts down, which is disturbing since I think "feminists" should know what they're talking about when they invoke Title IX. The fact that she discusses Title IX in the past tense is worrisome. To me it signals that Swift and other "feminists" like her would weaken the legislation given the opportunity.
Because Title IX has certainly created more opportunities--but not equal opportunities and women are not competing at the same level if we consider that women are found in fewer numbers in professional and Olympic competition. (Title IX, of course, does not apply to these levels but there is a belief that if there are more collegiate female athletes then there should be more opportunities for them after graduation.)
Also problematic and applicable to sport is Swift's "feminist" belief that if you play by the rules, you should be able to succeed. But the rules are created by men. You are playing a man's game--literally and figuratively depending on the venue. This is an issue feminists in sport have grappled with how to incorporate, challenge, or shun men's games. And it's a discussion more feminists in general should be having.
If there's any hijacking of feminism going on, it's from the right who uses it when they need it (like when they nominate a female for VP) and then ignore it when it's not so useful (like when they challenge Title IX).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Don't speak that name

Reader JB informed me of an interesting--but not entirely surprising--double standard in the world of sport journalism.
At the beginning of the summer ESPN columnist Jemele Hill, a young black woman, was suspended from her job after likening rooting for the Celtics to thinking Hitler was a victim. She apologized and served her suspension.
Last weekend, Lou Holtz, older white guy, also working for ESPN made a comment during a conversation about the not-so-hot record of Michigan's football coach saying something about Hitler was a good leader too. I assume facetiously though another commentator said "you mean, bad leader" and he said yeah, yeah, bad.
Holtz was made to apologize--that's it.
The racist and gendered double standard just smacks one across the face. Holtz just made himself sound stupid. Hill's analogy I cannot quite understand because I don't have the whole context (ESPN took down the column).
But here's the thing, I guess I'm not sure when just mentioning Hitler became inherently problematic. Hitler references are hackneyed and often dehistoricized especially when used in sport. They lack a certain sensitivity, but just mentioning the name Hitler is not anti-Semitic. I find the anti-Semitic slang words far more offensive. Neither Hill nor Holtz actually called anyone Hitler or Hitler-esque.
Let me be clear: I don't think this is political correctness run amok. I think it's actually another example of double (or some other number) standard. Because words like fascist and communist are thrown about all the time. Would there be the same uproar if someone invoked Stalin? (Maybe, who knows.) And, as a self-identified feminist, people of my political persuasion are frequently called femi-nazis because we, horror upon horrors, believe in things like reproductive freedom and the end of domestic violence and sexual assault. I have yet to see a big condemnation of that term.
I am willing to be convinced that Hitler is a dirty word. But if it is, people better start cleaning up other parts of their speech too. Because the mention of a historical figure--as awful as he was--does not seem to be as malicious as calling someone a nazi or a fascist--in any context.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More model behavior

I don't think I have it in me to complain every year about the use of female models as ball persons at the Madrid Masters event in Spain. It's just not that interesting anymore. It doesn't appear anything is going to change unless tournament organizers begin to believe that the use of the models is driving people away from the tournament. (I still find the rationale that they bring in spectators both suspect and creepy.)
But this article out of the UK caught my attention, especially the picture of an awkward-looking Andy Murray surrounded by said models/ballpersons. Murray, who won the event, tries so hard to be so bad-ass and he walks around thinking he's all that (probably all that time he spent with Brad Gilbert who had a similar, I believe, influence on Andy Roddick).
It's mostly just a snarky piece about how other sports in other countries--namely Britain--might sex up their sports by trimming down some outfits and revealing a little more skin. And I just love snarky pieces about sexism and sport.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Female fandom: Women like the NFL?!?

I imagine this post could have future follow-ups: Female fandom II, III, etc. (All with a catchy post-colon phrase, of course.)
This post is about an article I came across earlier this month and nearly forgot about. It's all about female NFL fans. And it kind of reads like an older anthropological piece. You know the one in which the white guy goes looking for something unusual amongst the primitive. Because the whole angle is basically "women like football, and they really get into it. How 'interesting.'" And you know the tone "interesting" has here. It details the rituals female fans engage in from organizing parties to donning their favorite team's gear.
The article makes minor mention of the pinkification of fandom with lots of shirts, hats, etc. that resembles Pepto Bismal and produces the kind of effect that makes you want some--Pepto Bismal--not pink gear. Luckily a hardcore Steelers fan pipes up that pink has no place in her version of fandom. Nor do cheerleaders.
I was not surprised by the isn't-this-novel-and-interesting approach to the subject of female fans. I was kind of shocked to see the alleged increase in female fandom attributed to Title IX. Wait, the legislation that allowed more women to play sports has created more fans of men's professional sports?? Wouldn't one think that Title IX would have created more fans of women's sports? Men's sports have always been there--and women have always been fans. Check out some histories of the early days of intercollegiate football. Plus many of the women interviewed for the article who are of the pre-IX generation attributed their fandom to family influence, regardless of their own athletic participation in sports.
Generally this article contributes to the "wait, women like sports!?" attitude that has historically impeded participation. Glad these women feel free to express their fandom by joining clubs and wearing t-shirts--I think. Now I am waiting for the articles on whether female fandom is going to start to resemble some of the violent, masculinist aspects of historically male fandom. Here's hoping those pieces are a little more nuanced.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Delle Donne feature

The Washington Post has a very good feature on what former hoopster Elene Delle Donne is doing now. After leaving UConn at the start of the summer and then turning down her scholarship in August, Delle Donne went to Delaware where she is nowing playing volleyball. And it sounds like she is having a really great time. Not surprising. I mean she gets to play a sport that she seemingly likes, for a female coach who is happy to have to her, at a school not stuck in the middle of nowhere and where she can actually mingle with other students as a regular student-athlete. Makes sense to me.
I hope this article and Delle Donne's story reaches parents and other young athletes. Specialization is not a good thing. Delle Donne said she was burnt out on basketball by age 14 or 15. And her parents weren't even pushing her into the sport. Perhaps that is why she was able to walk away. And she may walk back some day. But at least it will be on her terms.

Friday, October 17, 2008

WSF awards

Earlier this week the Women's Sports Foundation held their annual awards dinner in NYC. Nastia Liukin won the 2008 Sportswoman of the Year Award (individual) and Jessica Mendoza won it for a female athlete competing in a team sport. Of course, gymnastics could be considered a team sport as well though there is the individual component of it unlike in softball and other team sports.
I was kind of bummed at the choice of recipients. I do like Mendoza and believe she is a good athlete and a good person very much involved in using sport to make change within and outside of sport, but she gets a lot of publicity already. Liukin doesn't really do anything for me and she doesn't appear to have done much outside of gymnastics. The thing most of the articles about the award if touting is Liukin's upcoming guest appearance on Gossip Girl.
I myself voted for Ashley Fiolek, the teenager who races motocross (a very male dominated field). And Patty Cisneros for Team Sportswoman of the year. Cisneros has been a major force on the US wheelchair basketball team for almost ten years.
Also given out was the Billie Jean King Contribution Award which went to the WTA Tour earned for achieving equitable prize money at all the Grand Slams. (This one I found curious because in all the coverage I read of the move to equal prize money I never really heard that the WTA played a huge role in the decision-making process.) And the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award was given to Texas Tech pitcher and All-American Patience Knight, who overcame cancer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hockey coach on hockey mom

In honor of tonight's debate a political post--in the sense that it is about the political system rather than everything else I write which is political in the more general sense. Since I am so disgusted and divorced from the political system and thus refuse to watch any of the debates, I figure this will be my contribution.

Sometimes it's kind of frustrating being a feminist who likes and studies and plays sports--especially women's sports. In addition to the ways in which women's sports are marginalized in the popular culture, there are the continual frustrations with so many female athletes who conform to the norms set for them by malestream sport. So many of us truly believe in the potential of women's sports to poke holes in hegemonic sport and gender roles. And thus when female athletes--like so many women in general (I have no expectations that female athletes should somehow be more likely to be feminists than women in the population at large)--kind of just capitulate or hide anything that might be construed as feminist, radical, or even non-feminine it just makes me want to find the nearest wall and start banging my head.
Thankfully there are wonderful moments like the one I had when I read an editorial by Michelle McAteer, an out assistant coach of the women's hockey team at Minnesota-Duluth. McAteer takes on the "hockey mom" rhetoric that Sarah Palin has made so ubiquitous in the last couple of months. You must read the whole thing because it's wonderfully written. I would have her guest blog for me any day because she's smart and witty and she's so right about how Palin is using hockey yet has no concept of what women who actually play hockey face.
But pit-bull Palin doesn't seem to understand the complexities of women in the women's hockey world. It's safe to say she wasn't trying to associate herself with me, my community, or my experiences. I'd also wager that the large subset of gay women in the hockey world never crossed Palin's mind as she branded herself part of the hockey minority. At the collegiate level, though, lesbians are a visible part of game.
Hockey will not benefit from Palin the way Palin has benefited from her version of hockey. And that's just fine with McAteer who doesn't think Palin's attention is any benefit to the sport at all.
So tonight while the presidential candidates are debating, I will be doing something truly political: attending a women's hockey game. Because I think the game needs support from people who really care about women's hockey.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New study on sport, children. and families

Last week the Women's Sports Foundation released its study of the effects of sports and physical activity on children and families, including who is playing (i.e. who has access and "interest"). A downloadable version of the report can be found here--this link also includes a summary of the findings.
There has been a relatively decent amount of media coverage of the report (see here, here, here and here) but I have been somewhat reluctant to talk about it. It could be, perhaps, that I was part of this research in its infancy and so the findings that, for example, girls in urban locales have significantly less access to sports than their male peers and that this is also dependent on race and class, really are not that surprising to me. I also have some hesitations because I question not necessarily the goals of the research--to bring more opportunities to girls--but the reasons behind the goals. In other words, I think we should question a little more the idea that sports and physical activity are inherently great and that more young people should be involved. Certainly the results that show girls of color have less access is a result of the systemic discrimination in our country and thus are important for consideration and addressing.
And the goal of engendering healthy lifestyles should be lauded. But we should also look at the fact that PepsiCo sponsored much of the study...
There's also the common rhetoric of sport producing quality leaders and engendering a sense of fair play. I am not so sure that organized sport is doing those things anymore. The increasingly competitive nature of organized sport--at all levels--seems to be detracting from some of the alleged good sport is said to produce. (This was not a focus of the study but rather something that is frequently unproblematically listed as a benefit of sport participation.)
Something I found quite interesting and worthy of a mention: lack of facilities in urban areas. The study's authors note that this is a reason why there is less participation among children living in urban areas versus suburban locations. There was a specific mention of the differences between say a community like Green Bay and New York City. But there are a lot of sport facilities in NYC--they just serve the needs of professional sports. But they shouldn't be used so exclusively. After all, tax dollars went to build most of these stadiums. And despite how it sometimes feels like pro seasons are interminable, there are such things as off-seasons. And many who live in the communities around such facilities do no benefit from them. They are often priced out of attending and do not see economic benefits from a stadium in their neighborhood. Maybe instead of hosting rock concerts in the off-season, these facilities could be used to actually benefit the communities around them by, say, hosting sports clinics for kids or even regular games and other youth events.
The study overall, though, is important. In part because it was quite comprehensive. Here is a blurb from the WSF article on the results:
The central focus is on how the intersections among families, schools and communities are related to children’s involvement and interest in athletics and physical activity. Some of the personal and social benefits associated with children’s athletic participation are also identified and discussed. The athletic interests and involvements of girls and boys are examined from childhood through late adolescence, including entry into sport as well as drop-out patterns.
Also important was that the study looked at immigrant families and families with children with disabilities. One of the study's authors, sport sociologist and former WSF board member, Don Sabo, has said these to demographics will be the focus of further studies, which is a very good thing. Immigrant families are, of course, often invisible when we discuss family life in America. And though, in some ways, disability and sport has become a more discussed topic we don't actually see a lot of disabled athletes and when we do they are adults.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The W7??

I don't know how I could have missed this--could be that my eyes are just shut tight because I am so sick of the sexploitation of female athletes. Regardless, it seems seven members (the 7) of the LPGA tour--only one of whom has recorded victories on the tour--have signed with the Wilhelmina (the W) modeling agency.
The writer suggests that women's sports walk a "fine line" regarding attractiveness and athleticism that affects how they are appreciated. Yeah, fine line my ass. Everyone knows what the deal is. The W7 are not walking any fine lines. They know that if they are attractive, they will get endorsements even if some of them never win--as six of them have yet to do. In fact, they know the deal so well that they have "banded together to use their decidedly feminine attributes to tap into a potential wealth of endorsement money."
Sounds pretty self-serving, no? But the argument goes that the attention the W7 is getting is actually drawing people to tournaments who might not have shown up otherwise. This is a pretty sketchy argument. Haven't seen any empirical evidence to suggest this is true, but have seen studies that show sex does not sell women's sports--at least to men.
But people buy it. Others players buy it. Meg Mallon--who, as not a member of the W7, must fall into the category of decidedly unfeminine or maybe undecidedly feminine--thinks it's good for the sport and that once people get interested--for whatever reason--they will stick around.
Women's golf does not suffer because there are too few pretty faces on the tour. Golf has been historically a man's game. Sure women have always played, but the game (the rules, the space, the atmosphere) have always been geared towards men. Men played the game, women dabbled. Women becoming professional, becoming more serious about the game represents a threat to golf as a male domain. Especially now that it appears women could conceivably compete with men. I believe desegregation of the sport is an underlying fear that engenders a lot of the ill will that comes across as disinterest in the women's game.
So these women that pose all sexy, that allegedly sell the game are selling safety, too. They are selling the normal order of things. They are assuaging fears. Because their sexification produces a normalizing effect: see, these girls just want to be pretty and make a little pocket money; the are not a threat.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

WPS is drafting and contracting

Women's Professional Soccer continued the drafting process earlier this week. (See Women's Sports Blog for more details and links to the draft.) But it also worked out a contract for weekly television coverage by Fox Soccer Channel. Good, I guess, that television coverage is being lined up. Wish I actually got the Fox Soccer Channel, though. (Well in that way that I want to be able to see games but have a problem with all things Fox related.) The Soccer Channel will also cover the All-Star Game and various Fox affiliates will air post-season play. The once-a-week coverage will be a live Sunday night game.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In case you live in a hole...

...I'm here to inform you that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Which means that it's also a good time to point out some of the...ummm...problems with all this "awareness." Awareness itself is not a problem, of course. It's the hyperconsumerism that seems to accompany this awareness that has become a problem. It's the consumerism disguised as activism disguised as progress.

And what does this have to do with sport? Well there is a sport angle. So many teams and events unproblematically sponsor breast cancer "activism" through a variety of means. Teams wear pink jerseys or sneakers or laces. Proceeds of various items or tickets go to "research" (on what exactly, a cure, drugs, other treatment is never revealed). Then there are the events that survivors and supporters participate in: runs, walks, triathlons, etc. The events sponsored by companies like Avon (which refuses to reveal the potential cancer-causing effects of its own products and their production) spend an inordinate amount of money on advertising and prizes, swag, and generally staging the event. We should question whether it might just be better to donate that lump sum directly to the cause.

Samantha King, a sport studies scholar, wrote a book that came out a couple of years ago that analyzes a lot of these events as well as some of the discourse around breast cancer activism. I probably have mentioned this before but in honor of all the awareness going on this month, I re-recommend, Pink Ribbons, Inc.

I am all for awareness. I am all for programs that involve getting more women to self-examine and get mammograms. And it's as good a month as any to get one (hint hint, BB). But please don't go out and buy the pink oven mitts and matching tea towels or the pink toaster oven. Or even the pink lemonade that they are selling on Northwest flights this month for $2--seriously. If you want to help the cause donate directly. Check out the organizations, what the money goes to, and just write a check.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Curious dismissal

Not sure this is something important but since I have come across two articles about the dismissal of the senior women's administrator in University of Washington's athletic department, I thought I would mention it. Marie Tuite has been with UW for 14 years and several weeks ago UW brought in new AD Scott Woodward. Some say it's a cleaning house move. Getting rid of key players in the old administration.
But given the success female coaches and administrators have had with retaliation cases of late, it's a pretty bold move. Also in Tuite's favor is her 14-year tenure.
Woodward would not give any reasons and it is unknown whether Tuite will be fired or resign.
This article contains more details as well as a comments section where there are some pretty sexist comments about women in sports administration.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The tales of two Jennifers

Not so very long ago in a land not so very far away at a place called Penn State there was a young woman named Jennifer who played basketball for a homophobic basketball coach, who dismissed young Jennifer from the team because of alleged attitude issues. But young Jennifer knew of coach Rene "the Meanie" Portland's discriminatory tendencies and filed a lawsuit against her. Vindication came, we believe, in the form of a closed settlement and the curious and "coincidental" departure of the Meanie from her position and the state of PA generally.
And now in a place very far away and oh so foreign (at least to me), another young Jennifer is facing something similar (but not exactly the same).
Jennifer Colli, who played at Southern Methodist University in Texas, lost her scholarship, she says, because her coach, Rhonda Rompola, is a big homophobe (and a closet case). The cases are quite different. Colli, for instance, is not making Title IX and other discrimination claims against Rompola or the university but rather is charging breach of contract for her lost scholarship and retaliation for going to the athletic department to report various issues such as drug use on the team and academic violations. But we have similarities too with coaches who were inordinately interested in the sex lives of their players. [Colli is openly gay whereas Jennifer Harris is not but claimed that Portland never believed her.]
But it's really not the similarities or the differences that matter. What's of concern is that these are just two cases where two young women came forward. But there are so many others who do not. We learned that (ok we knew it, we just got some evidence) during the Portland case when former players came forward and spoke of their experiences and how they had been driven off the team. It will be interesting to see whether others will begin to contest their maltreatment, too.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

News from around the world

1. Finally some good hockey news (besides the fact that the season has started). The city of Brampton, Ontario has named its new community centre after hockey star Cassie Campbell. The facility has a fitness center, pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, and of course, ice rinks.

2. From the "oh, you've got to be kidding me" department: over a quarter of British women surveyed said they avoid cycling because they fear helmet hair. No wonder there are big problems in Britain with women's physical fitness and activity levels. Other reasons for not cycling include fear of being seen without makeup and arriving to work sweaty.

But wait, it gets better. The reporter noted that women should not fear such things because cycling can be sexy. Proof? Olympic gold medalist in cycling pursuit, Rebeca Romero, posed naked recently in an ad for a sports drink.

That doesn't make cycling sexy. That makes nudity sexy--though not universally, I would add.

Besides cycling is sexy--even with clothes on! Because muscles are sexy and curves are sexy and using your body and watching other people use their bodies, watching muscles engage--it's all sexy. Well it's sexy to me anyway. But it shouldn't have to be sexy to do it. It feels really good too and if you're a bike commuter you're reducing your carbon footprint. So just get over yourselves or wear a bandanna or try some braids or a cute spiky haircut that you can just juge (did I spell that right??) after your ride.
3. Female ski jumpers are still fighting for inclusion in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Seventeen-year old jumper Zoya Lynch just became the 10th person on the suit against VANOC. No one from the IOC seems to be budging on this issue. This article, after it covers the addition of Lynch, basically rehashes what has been going on, gives the usual history, the same sides of the stories we have already heard. But, buried near the end, is something I think is pretty important and pokes a pretty big hole in the IOC's protestations about why it cannot possibly add women's jumping in 2010 (even though it would be super easy to schedule). IOC says not enough women competing yet; grow the sport, come back to us later. But men's and women's ski cross (I have no idea what that is by the way) is making its Olympic debut in Vancouver with fewer female participants than in ski jumping. Hmm....

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Even more football idiocy

When I headed over to Women's Sports Blog recently and saw a post entitled "More football idiocy," I thought "yeah, no kidding. All that craziness at a high school in New Mexico." But no, that's not what Fat Louie was talking about. And though indeed the advertisements to female fantasy football participants are demeaning (FL makes a good point about why women would want to participate in such an endeavor anyway given the overtly masculinist nature of the whole thing) so is getting sodomized by a broomstick as part of an initiation into the culture of high school football.
At a training camp this past August six upperclassmen allegedly (I use the word in the legal sense because investigations against coaches and players are ongoing and no charges have been filed yet) sodomized six younger players over the course of two days. As someone has noted, "hazing" seems to be a little light in significance when we think about what happened here. It's sexual assault. And, it gets worse.* Turns out coaches walked in on the incident(s), told the players to cut it out and then walked out on the whole scene. All the coaches on the team have resigned. One player was expelled. Others were suspended for the year.

*Why do these things always seem to get worse? Nothing related to football can ever just be bad--it always becomes really, really bad--horrific even. I've already washed my hands of professional football, but I still try to hang on to some aspects of college football. Why, I just don't know. It could arguably be even worse than the pros. And waves of schadenfreude just overtake me when a coach or a player gets caught doing something wrong after thinking he could get away with it because of the fact (I was about to say mere fact--but nothing about football these days can be described as mere anything) that he is affiliated with the sport.