I've had a few days to digest our conversation about Title IX and it's impact on womens (and men's) sports. Our panel of William Howe, from the Connecticut Education Department, Allison Kasic of the Independent Women's Forum (a conservative women's think-tank), and author Christine Baker each brought different insights into the history, the application and the impact of this important law.
But I couldn't help feeling discouraged that we didn't really get anywhere with the conversation. Some feedback from audience members, and emailers pretty much hit the range of emotions about the current state of Title IX:
From Mary: Without Title IX, there would be no UConn Women's Basketball, there would be no US Women's Soccer.... Women's sports would still be relegated to a few enthusiasts begging court time at odd hours (when the men weren't playing, training, getting ready to train, etc.), virtually uncoached, with uniforms consisting of matching T-shirts.
From Christine: All Title IX says is that women should have equal access to resources. It says a publicly funded high school can't spend thousands on their men's football team when the girls' basketball team isn't allowed to use the gym. If boys have a problem with that, it just means they're bad sports and that they aren't learning what they should from high school sports.
From mattearls: Former high school wrestler says Thanks Allison. Should we mandate equality for men in modern dance classes?
And, I think it's hard to get much further than that with this discussion. No matter how the law is "tweaked" - some will see it as a quota law, others will see it as necessary civil-rights enforcement. After the show was over, we talked some more, and took some listener questions, and all the really interesting stuff started happening, and the ideas started flying:
- Are we post-gender equity (and post-racial equity, for that matter) and on to more current civil-rights issues?
- Is economic inequity a new frontier for legislation like this?
- Is there a city/suburban inequity? (A: Obviously, so how do we deal with that in a suburban state?)
- Should girls sports really aspire to be more like boys' sports?
- We look at "big-time" college basketball programs as a good thing for women, but constantly complain about excesses in men's college athletics...why?
- More girls are being pushed into sports "specialities" as a way to get scholarships. This leads to injuries and early burnout.
- If athletics are so damned important for boys and girls, why do they get cut from school budgets?
- Sure, professional women's sports are an important evolution, but that possibility only exists for a very slim percentage of girls.
You get the point. It seems that our Thursday night show - while well meaning - really talked about an issue that has reached a "conversational plateau." We should have found things to talk about that really move us to the next level.
By the way, later that night, the UConn/Syracuse six overtime game reminded us of one big reason we pay such close attention to college sports - it's great entertainment. Played by unpaid kids, who make millions for universities and coaches - with little hope of an NBA payday themselves - but great entertainment anyway. There are a million reasons to complain about the NCAA, and they way they operate...but it's hard to think about that when you're filling out your tourney bracket.