Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Forget the Lakers, Who's a Sparks Fan?

I’m eating a pickle right now, it’s very good. What that has to do with the rest of this post, I have no idea…but it is a really good pickle.

A Girls Basketball Coach in Alabama recently won a Title IX discrimination settlement between him and the school that he coached at, which went all the way to the Supreme Court. Coach Roderick Jackson was fired for allegedly complaining too much that the Boys Basketball team was given preferential treatment over the Girls Basketball team. The Alabama school maintained that since Coach Jackson was not a direct victim of discrimination, he had no right to sue. The High Court of Alabama ruled 5-4 allowing his case to continue onto the Supreme Court, where the Court ruled in his favor.

"Reporting incidents of discrimination is integral to Title IX enforcement and would be discouraged if retaliation against those who report it went unpunished," wrote then-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for the majority. "Individuals who witness discrimination would likely not report it, indifference claims would be short-circuited, and the underlying discrimination would go unremedied."

Basically what was going on was that Ensley High School, where Jackson first made his discrimination claims, was giving the girls team substandard training facilities, funding, transportation etc. compared to the boys team. According to CNN, “the gym the girls used for practice had no heat, wooden backboards and bent hoops, and the team relied on inferior transportation to games, including car pools, while the boys used buses.”

Title IX is the Equalization Act for Females in Scholastic Activities. It doesn’t even have to be athletically-related, what it means is that regardless of circumstances women athletes and women’s teams must be treated exactly the same as male athletes and men’s teams. Since it’s inception, women’s sports has gained tremendous ground, creating more opportunities for women in sports and preventing discrimination against female athletes. Title IX is the reason I was able to go out for the wrestling team. However, the drawback to Title IX is that sports that are traditionally male, such as wrestling and football, get their funding cut seeing as each team must spend the same amount of money on its male and female athletes. Wrestling doesn’t have an analogous female team, therefore since it is doomed to be out of balance as far as the ratio of female to male athletes, on paper it looks like it is giving more preference to its male athletes, and its funds are cut. Legislation is currently trying to work out this glitch, but typically a lot of school’s will cut their wrestling teams completely rather than lost money trying to fund an unsupported team. When I wrestled at Cerritos College, we didn’t even have enough uniforms for our first meet (which may have been good for me seeing as one guy came back with herpes from that meet).

So, what I’m thinking happened is that in Alabama, at this overcrowded and under-funded high school that recently closed anyway, no one cared about girl’s basketball. I mean think about it, does anyone really care about the WNBA compared to the NBA? Do we even know who won the last Sparks game? So no one came to the girls games, no one sat in the stands, and the school was being forced to fund it just as much as the boys team who had people buying tickets every Friday night and selling out for the cross town rival game.

Is that really fair? I mean if no one goes to see it, why fund it right? We don’t even know if the girl’s team was really any good, or even if the boy’s team was any good either, but apparently Ensley High School cared more about their boys team than their girls team seeing as the boys at least had buses.

I remember the Gymnastics team at Warren High School didn’t have buses, they didn’t have ANY facilities to train on campus, so they had to walk to the YMCA and use their equipment. And other schools back east had Gymnastics getting more funding than Football and some school’s even had Judo teams (Scholastic Judo is non-existent out west). Warren’s Gymnastics team SUCKED though! I’m sure if Warren Gymnastics was bringing back a CIF banner a couple years in a row we’d have given them buses. Sports do fund education after all, school’s will invest in the girl’s Table Tennis team if it wins and brings in funds, at least as far as I’ve seen. Lynwood also didn’t even have a swim team until parents demanded it.

So, could it possibly be that the Alabama Girls Basketball team really sucked, and that’s why the school didn’t give them any funds? The Coach may have been complaining that the reason they sucked was because he didn’t have the resources to train them, and the school may have decided that he wasn’t that great of a Coach if he wasn’t getting results and fired him. Technically I guess their not allowed to do that though, at least according to the Supreme Court. I have trouble believing that the school just really had a bias against its female athletes because they are female, but hey then again it is down south. Don’t they eat Possums in Alabama or something?

Well it seems like Title IX is telling Alabama that it doesn’t matter what skill level either team is at, they still have to provide equal funding for each team in order to prevent discrimination.

What do you guys think? Is this fair?

I only have the CNN article also, so if you guys have more information on anything related, post it up in the comments!


Blogger C-dell said...

It is a high school team. Each and every team should be treated the same. giving special treatment doesn't do any good. Those are after school for students to have fun and interact with one another. If a team is not as good as another ow well. It is to provide a positive enviorment. If it were college or the pro's that another story. It is high school it is for the students. No one team should be ignored or put up above the others. I mean all sports teams.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was pretty much going to say what c-dell said.

What if it was the band that was being ignored and thus the band sued?

What would have happened if the football team complained about the treatment of the boy's basketball team?

7:34 PM  
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