Rugby Bits & Bites: Totally Tweaked and Tickled for Turkey

Haven’t done one of these in a while … but it’s like a party of rugby munchies. Plus it helps me clean out my e-mail …

• Canada holds off USA Developmental 7s, 19-15, to win Women’s NAWIRA 7s.

“All games were again physical but the good thing was that all teams improved on their performances from day one,” commented Canada head coach Natascha Wesch.

“The game vs the USA was the toughest again; the USA adapted well to what we had given them in day one and came out very strong.”

Full scores of all games (women and men) here. And I posted the US roster earlier here.

• A feature on USA Eagle Blake Burdette, who played in this year’s men’s World Cup. He was away from his wife for 30 weeks because of rugby. His wife must really love him. Also, chicken mcnuggets in France during the RWC were shaped like rugby balls.

• Do American Women like being sporty more than women in the UK? Or maybe it’s better to ask if our culture accepts sporty women more? Hmmm … two articles from the UK have me thinking yes. Muscled Out and Why School Sports Still Make Women Sweat. Would love to hear thoughts from our UK friends out there …

• Great article … also curious if it’s written by “the” Anita Hill.

The Legacy of Title IX
By Anita F. Hill
November 12, 2007
LAST NIGHT, ESPN opened its coverage of women’s college basketball with the Rutgers team in the primetime slot. Within a month’s time, Rutgers, which entered the season ranked number three in the AP poll, will make four appearances on the premiere sports network. Primetime television coverage of women’s sports wouldn’t exist but for a dramatic change in public attitude toward female athletes brought about by a law that doesn’t even mention the word sports.

Enacted in 1972, the statute known as Title IX had a simple but sweeping mandate: No one could be excluded from participation in any education “program or activity” on the basis of sex. When she co-wrote the measure, the late Representative Patsy Mink intended for Title IX to remove explicit gender exclusions and quotas, and help eliminate other forms of discrimination prevalent at the time.

However, when parents figured out that any “program or activity” included athletics and started suing schools so that girls had the same opportunities to play sports as boys, the impact of the statute mushroomed.

Today, there are nearly five times as many women college athletes as when the law was enacted, according to Marcia Greenberger, of the National Women’s Law Center. Name your favorite activity – soccer, volleyball, lacrosse – and, like never before, girls are involved. In 2005, 2.95 million high school girls played some type of competitive sports, compared with 300,000 before Title IX. This year, the NCAA sponsored its first women’s rugby match.

It’s not all about competition. The health and educational benefits that have come from the law’s implementation are documented.

In his research, professor Robert Kaestner of the University of Illinois at Chicago found that Title IX and the “expansion of school-based opportunities for physical activities among girls” were associated with significantly lower probabilities “of being overweight and obese.” Girls who play sports in secondary school have a 40 percent greater chance of getting a bachelor’s degree within six years of graduating from high school than those with no high school sports activities, according to Department of Education findings.

Girls themselves say athletic participation helps build confidence and makes them more goal oriented.

Title IX may be one of the rare laws with overwhelming bipartisan support. Ninety percent of Republican and Democratic voters surveyed think that the law should be used to address situations where girls’ teams are being treated worse than their male counterparts.

Nevertheless, the law’s critics argue that expanding opportunities for women has hurt men. Notwithstanding recent findings by two different governmental departments that opportunities for both men and women in collegiate athletics are increasing, critics want to weaken Title IX’s enforcement.

Cutting back on the law’s enforcement would be a disservice to girls, women, and the public at large. Sports equity has not been achieved. Even with ESPN’s broadcasting of women’s basketball, sports programming does not match girls’ and women’s participation in sports. Women’s tennis is the only sport with equal marketing power as its men’s counterpart.

Many of the old problems of outright discrimination that Mink hoped to address persist even as new challenges present themselves. And some school administrators, says Nan Stein of the Wellesley Center for Women, still don’t believe that Title IX applies to their institutions. But Greenberger is hopeful that Title IX enforcement will continue and will not only bring more opportunities for young women, but will also model improved opportunities for at-risk males.

Ironically, Don Imus, whose racist and sexist on-air remarks brought the Rutgers women’s team unwanted national attention, may have contributed to better public understanding of the gender stereotypes female athletes still face. Next month, Imus will return to the airwaves on ABC Radio Networks, reportedly earning a base salary of $5 million. But he and his guests will return to the mike knowing that, despite Americans’ penchant for redemption, our tolerance for hate speech on public airwaves is not limitless.

Whether one sees the Rutgers women’s basketball team as a group of highly skilled and disciplined athletes or as a group of young women whose dignity and worth go beyond athletics, they deserve the attention they’re getting this time around.

As the great-aunt of a 7-year-old who thinks she’s a better athlete than Lisa Leslie and Dwayne Wade; who, at age 4, decided that for Halloween she wanted to be a doctor; and whose current mantra is “I will win fair and square,” I’m personally grateful for Title IX. She’s never been told that she ought to limit any of her dreams because she’s a girl and I hope she never will be.

In my Nov. 5 column, I used a masculine adjective to describe Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s interpretation of an anti-affirmative action initiative. Robin Carnahan is a woman.

Anita F. Hill, a guest columnist, is professor of law, social policy, and women’s studies at the Heller School of Policy and Management at Brandeis University and a visiting scholar at Wellesley College, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, and the Wellesley Center for Women.

• And Dropkick Photos has photos from all the major women’s events the past few months … check them out.

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1 Comment

Filed under 7s, NAWIRA, Rugby: Bits and Bites, USA Eagles

One response to “Rugby Bits & Bites: Totally Tweaked and Tickled for Turkey

  1. Jenna

    Yes – it is THE Anita Hill – I have a friend who took a couple of her classes when she went to school there.

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