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Throughout this paper the issues of women, athletics, stereotyping and opportunities that are/are not available to females in the professional arena of athletics will be explored. Indeed, racism and sexism has traditionally (and continues to be a great extent) steeped in American society, as well as institutions. There have been a number of laws passed regarding this practice, i.e. Affirmative Action being the one more notable, as well as others. Nevertheless, from a legal, social, and political perspective, females are still stereotyped as the weaker sex, and inevitably this mentality continues to impact women in U.S. society, as well as capabilities within other aspects of society. It is my intention to address these variables both individually as well as intertwining units.
Within the world of sports, or athletics, we have particularly seen evidence of this within the Olympics. The Olympics is the epitome of sports for all people, male, female, as well as color, and ethnicity from around the world. Title IX was supposed to change the world, and it has: the number of women participating in college sports has jumped up considerable since the law was enacted twenty-five years ago. But the world changes slowly. U.S.A. Today surveyed 303 Division I schools to see where Title IX has taken us in it twenty-five years and found that men still get most of the money. Taken together, the results are like a good new, bad news joke. The good news: the number of female athletes has increased 22% since 1992. The bad: for every one-dollar spent on woman s colleges sports three dollars is spent on men s. Female athletes get just 38% of the scholarship money, 27% of recruiting money and 25% of operating budgets. It is encouraging to see the increases for women but very discouraging to see that they are not really sharing equally in the money. The money side of the ledger still gets the vast amount of the money, says Patty Viverito, Chairwoman of the NCAA s Committee on Women s Athletics. The newspaper took a detailed look at the issue in late 1995, when it stated numbers for 1994 of the 107 Division I-A school. Since then, the Equity In Athletics Disclosure Act, requires all colleges to report data on men and women s athletics. The Federal law took effect April 1, 1997.
To ensure that A college is in compliance with Title IX, The Department of Education office for Civil Rights, uses a three-pronged test to decide. A school is in compliance if it passes a single prong. One prong asks its school to show a history of continuing expansion of women s athletics programs. Another asks if interest and abilities of women athletes have been met. The only measurable prong asks if the percentage of women athletes at a school is substantially proportional to the percentage of women in its undergraduate enrollment. Though the rules do not specify what constitutes substantially proportionality, some out of court settlements suggest coming within five percentage points might be enough. U.S.A. Today found that 28 of the 303 Division I-A schools, only 9% passed the proportionality test. That includes 9 of 108 schools in Division I-A, made up of big time football schools. That is the same number passed in 1995. (Brady and Witosky, p, o4C)
Some critics have stated that Title IX has no powers of enforcement. Historically it has taken a lawsuit by female athletes to achieve corrective action. For example, the Black Women In Sports Foundation has received a $50,000 grant form Athletic Footwear Association to conduct a program that will introduce African American girls and women to golf and tennis, and to each other in ten U.S. cities. The program to begin soon will train black women in the elements of sports and mentoring techniques. Then the mentors will be matched with girls who are interested in learning sports. We want to create relationships that will continue as the adult and child learn the sport together, said Gina Sloane Green, President and Executive Director of the Foundation We are not trying to recruit adults who are experienced players. Instead, our adult mentors need only a strong interest in learning the game and a desire to make contributions to a young person s life. The chosen cities chosen for the program are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Washington D.C. The foundation hopes to involve between 100 and 150 mentors and children in each city during the first year. Local coordinators and instructors are being recruited who will conduct a series of clinics. They will be held first for the adults and then for the adults and children together. After that the mentor adult is responsible for registering the child in a local sports program and for providing transportation. We plan to arrange scholarships to local organizations and programs so that the children can continue to play and learn for as long as they want Green said.
The Black Women In Sports Foundation was established in 1992 to increase opportunities for African American women in all levels of sports, from participation, to lifetime careers. In 1993, it produced a video, entitled, Amazing Grace, Black Women In Sports, that encourages young women to pursue career opportunities in sports. The Athletic Footwear Association sponsors the video. (Walter, p. A-8) In my opinion there has been an ongoing effort to advance women in sports. Much of this has to do with so-called Civil Rights, or giving U.S. citizens equal opportunities. Civil Rights, Affirmative Action etc., has been the tradition over the past 20 or 30 years, and fortunately for women in sports, it has served as a factor in advancing women in sports.
Recently, Timer Incorporated announced that it would debut the first test issue of Sports Illustrated Women/Sports on April 21. The magazine, aimed at women 18-34, will be sent to 450,000 female Sports Illustrated subscribers as well as women selected form a Time Warner database, and 250,000 copies will be sent to newsstands for sale. The first issue will have more than 100 editorial pages and 70 advertising pages. The new magazine was to have publication twice in 1997 with completed frequencies in 1998.
It has been said that grumpy old men had their way in the Olympics for generations. However when we look at Atlanta we can see a new leaf turning over. In the Atlanta games there was 36% more women competing then in any other previous Olympics. Most of the recognizable names on the American team were women. Jackie-Joyner-Kersee, Janet Evans, Mia Hamm, Shannon Miller, Gail Devers, Rebecca Lobo, etc. Two new Olympics sports have been added for women this year: soccer, and softball. For the first time U.S.A. basketball put women under professional contract for a year to train an Olympic team rather than gather college all stars at the last minute. In Track and Field, the 5,000 meter run has replaced its 3,000 for women and the triple jump has been added for women, to look more like the men s program. There has been progress, and partly for the right reasons, said Donna Deverona, twice an Olympian and twice gold medallist in swimming in the 1960′ . This was a time when female sport’ champions were what she called unique pioneers. Deverona acknowledges that the growth of women team sports in the Olympics is a step in the right direction. She goes on to state The team is formerly the male sandbox, and women need to know that they can be team players, that they can be aggressive, sweat, and work together, and have strategies. Rebecca Lobo, former University of Connecticut basketball superstar, stated My own experience was that women only competed in sports like gymnastics, swimming and diving when I watched the Olympics. I think its wonderful for little girls now to see team sports on TV, too, because a lot more kids play team sports rather than individual sports. Mia Hamm, the world s finest female soccer player, states We tell people we are the U.S. National soccer team and we are going to World Championship s Tournament or something like that and it s Oh, that s nice , But now that we are able to attach the word Olympics to ourselves, they can identify with that. Joan Benoit Samuleson, champion of the first ever women s Olympic marathon in 1984, states There weren t opportunity s for women in running then, and having three brothers and being very competitive, I did have the skiing. I was going to go that way By the time Samuleson won the marathon gold it was 2474 years after man first ran a marathon (a Greek messenger) and 88 years after a man won the marathon in the first modern Olympics. Samuleson goes on to state The longest race I ran in high school was 800 meters, because they thought that if women ran farther, it could cause bodily injury and they would be unable to bear children, she goes on to say We are making strides year after year and you know, Rome was not built in a day.
Since the 14th century men have fought to keep women out of the Olympic games. It would not be until the 6th modern Olympics in 1920 in Antwerp that the United States allowed women to compete. Also, it was not until the last two decades, under the current International Olympic Committee and President Juan Antonio Samanach, that women s participation began to grow significantly. For the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the male to female ratio for athletes was 6 to 1, for the Atlanta games it was 3 to 1. We can see that we are moving in the right direction.
The passage of Title IX in 1972, federal legislation that mandates full equality for women s intercollegiate sports, experiences and expectations for girls and women began to change dramatically. Recently female politicians in Germany called on the IOC to bar from the Olympics any nation attempting to forbid female participation, They stated that 35 countries had registered only male athletes for Atlanta. They called this female apartheid which is as damaging as racial apartheid that kept South Africa from participating in the Olympic games for more than 30 years. That protest was targeted at Middle East countries, whose Islamic Fundamentalist frown on female athletic participation because it necessitates what they feel is public immodesty. For instance showing their bare legs while participating in sports. Hassiba Boulermia is a prime example of such prejudice. She was an Algerian middle distant runner who was spat on and stoned while training in her country because of the perceived public immodesty. She kept training anyway and won the Barcelona Olympic 1500 meters and proceeded to shout Algeria ! at the TV cameras and carried the Algerian flag. Boulmerta was able to open a door for other young girls in her country. If the IOC were to boycott such countries from the Olympics other countries will not have a chance to open he door and see the light to let these young women compete. In the long run it would only hurt these women in Middle East countries instead of help them
Nevertheless we can see that there are cultural, religious, political, and social imperatives which must be considered. However when it comes to the Olympics, a place of all sports for everyone, these universal imperatives are brought into question. All women should have an equal opportunity to compete. However we are gradually realizing that there is ongoing erosion of stereotypes and prejudices against in the women in the arena of what was traditionally a man s sport. It may take more time but we are definitely moving in the right direction.
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