Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Speaking of Title IX and blogging - from Marie: 'Small stories' and Title IX
...the passing of the milestone for the law without wider celebration is disappointing -- but not surprising. Title IX still remains controversial, and myths about the law's impact on boys' and men's sports prevail -- especially among young people. Focus groups with teenagers and college students about Title IX, conducted by the Center for Sports Journalism, revealed that these young people shared their suspicion about the law through narratives in which boys and men were victims. Stories about opportunities stripped from male athletes -- whether based on "reality" or admittedly fabricated by participants -- were used to understand the law.
It was surprising to hear these narratives even from young women who have clearly benefited from the law. But these stories, which are simple tales that conform to gender norms, are powerful tools to tear down support for the law.
Marie talks about the need for education "at lower levels, among middle-school and high school athletes."

I'd point her to a project Pam Noakes and the NAGWS put together a couple of years back. (They could make it harder to find on their website, but I'm not sure how.)
“We can talk about Title IX in universities as much as we want and do research, but are we really reaching the people who are making the decisions about how the money is given out, about who’s getting opportunities, about how things should be brought in to line?” asks Noakes. “I appreciate all the other things people have done where they try and educate people about Title IX, but honestly, it’s really kind of boring information. If you’re an athlete, it’s not stuff you’re interested in, unless you can somehow personalize it for them.” (One might say the same about coaches.)

This is where the newly launched NAGWS educational program “Backyards and Beyond” comes in. Focusing on issues of social justice in sport, the first unit is an interactive exercise in which people do an activity, engage in some conversation and plan strategies for how they might address Title IX issues in a totally non-threatening way. “We don’t talk about ‘prongs’ [of compliance], we don’t make any mention of lawsuits. We approach Title IX as the concept of fairness in sports and that I, as a parent or coach of a boy or girl, should be able to say that I believe that my athletes should have a fair opportunity to participate in sport.”

A leader purchases a (reusable) toolkit and gathers a small group of teammates, PTA members, girl scouts, or neighbors. After a short DVD, the group is split in half. One becomes the served population; the other becomes the underserved population. Each group is given the same task -put together a puzzle. The first group is given all they need to complete the task, while the other group receives directions that are in a foreign language, are missing pieces, have no facilitator and are expected to work in a very restrictive environment.

After 15 minutes, they all gather and discuss the challenges (or lack thereof) within the experience. The facilitator then translates that conversation into sport, explained Noakes, saying, “Similar sorts of limitations can be put on you in sports. So what are some of the ways these types of situations might affect you in a sports context?” The facilitator then talks about how Title IX “protects people’s rights in this area and how important it is that people know what those rights are. So that if you are in a situation in your community where you saw something that might be a Title IX issue, what are some of the ways that you could address that issue? What would you do to resolve it?”