Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Fair Shake For The Fair Sex? 

It's National Girls and Women in Sports Day, an annual celebration chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to honor female athletic achievement and recognize the importance of sports and fitness participation for all girls and women.

Unfortunately, most folks could care less. Women's participation in interscholastic sports has made major strides since Title IX was signed into law thirty years ago, but alums still complain about losing Football funding to "girl games." We're still a long way from the equality that Title IX proclaims as both ideal and necessity.

For example: it is a no-brainer that where attendance goes, true support follows. And game attendance -- the biggest and most obvious indicator of community support -- remains comprehensively imbalanced in all but the most progressive communities. And though nominally most schools are giving equal dollars to boys and girls sports programs, as mandated by Title IX law, finances are a slippery slope which don't always indicate genuine support. Do the girls get the best court or rink times? Do they get the same promotion in pep rallies and newspaper promotion? Not here. Probably not there, either.

Even those who should be at the forefront of the race to create and nurture true equal opportunity in sports aren't doing their job. For example, see your local school system: male athletic directors across the world today should be stepping forward, but instead, in far too many cases, they've charged their female assistant coaches with doing the dirty work of promotion. (If your local school system is getting this right, by the way, make sure you offer your vocal and voluminious support.)

In honor of this very important but sadly still underappreciated aspect of culture, later tonight I hope to post a thought piece submitted by Shane, a coworker and Girl's Hockey Coach. Stay tuned!

[Update 11:12 p.m.

Shane writes:

February 7th thru 13th is National Women in Sports week and to celebrate this the NMH GVIH put on possibly their best showing yet, taking on the larger and more skilled Kingswood Oxford team today in McCollum arena. A hard fought game saw the NMH squad fall by the score of 3:0 but that in no way measured the effort and hard work put in by every member of our team.
Sadly, this contest and the performance of our female athletes went almost totally un-noticed by the NMH community in general. Aside from a few parents and the loyal Boy’s Varsity Ice Hockey team (IMHO the classiest group of athletes I’ve seen around this campus) there was no one there to witness the truly honorable effort. Perhaps the students and faculty were at the BB courts and Swimming Pools cheering on our other female athletes. Do those venues actually hold 750 plus bodies? My personal thanks go out to all those who did witness the GVIH teams effort today, cheered when thay made the plays, booed the officials when they made a bad call (or two), high fived the girls as they left the ice between periods and simply made todays game special for every one involved. For those who were not there, you missed a good game, and a good opportunity to support both your school and Women in Sports. Take heart though – check this week in sports [ed: an on-campus schedule system for athletics]. NMH has more contests Friday and Saturday for you to cheer. ]

posted by boyhowdy | 1:38 PM |

i stumbled upon this in a google search (for something random) and just wanted to offer that as a girls hockey player from another (somewhat rival) prep school, boys hockey players tend to be incredibly supportive, from lining the boards to cheer us on to high fives and 'great hit yesterday!' comments in early morning english.
and i don't know if this can be generalized, but it gives me great hope for the future of women's sports.
How wonderful to hear that boys team support of girls teams may be a trend.

Of course, there is no evidence that support from peer teams could/would spread beyond that twenty or so supporters. Boys team fandom is supported schoolwide in most schools; here at NMH, for example, non-athletes and other sport athletes are regular attendees as Boys basketball, Hockey, and football games.

For boys hockey teams to attend girls hockey team games is a start, but that's, what, twenty kids? I wonder how we help nurture this support to spread to even those who like to watch but NOT play...or to non-hockey players?

Anyway, as you say -- it's a start. And any start brings hope.

In my own case, I'm looking forward to Spring, as I developed a love of Girls field hockey a few years ago...but find that there is no place to watch FROM, while the nearby Lacrosse field is constructed so as to maximize hillside viewing. Even atheletic facilities placement and landscaping, it turns out, make a big difference in defining and determining "support."
Post a Comment
coming soon
now listening