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Archive for June, 2008

When I was younger, I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated for Women. To my recent surprise, I visited the SI for Women Web site and was shocked at what I found. This message from the editor:

“It is with especially deep sadness that we tell you the bad news: The December 2002 issue will be Sports Illustrated Women’s last. These are tough times for a new magazine, and sometimes even loyal readers aren’t enough to make the numbers add up.”

This really saddens me. The magazine only lasted two years, running from March 2000-Nevember 2002. Its primary audience, according to Wikipedia, was women, 18-34 years old, with “a passion for sports.”

What’s even more interesting to me, is that in 2002, Cleary Simpson the then-publisher for SI Women claimed that the lack of readership (and eventual failure of the magazine) is largely due to the fact that, “women are more interested in sports as participants than fans, unlike men.”

Another problem, they claim, is that women’s interest is “fragmented” across a wide variety of sports (such as soccer, tennis or running), with little to bind them as a shared audience.

Personally, I would go as far as to say it’s our cultural values that prevent magazines and publications (as well as some women’s sports) to receive the type of attention they deserve. The primary problem: men aren’t interested (unless the girls are pretty).

It all has to do with advertising, which has everything to do with money, which relates back to what we, as members of a society, deem important enough to invest in.

While our culture values the aggressive, intense competition (and fighting) in sports by men, other values such as sound fundamentals, pure technique and fluid movement (present in women’s sports) are undervalued and deemed less important. In terms of fans, we as women are incredibly left behind.

Think about it: when do you see the top female athletes? Many times, it’s in advertisements, such as models for athletic apparel.

Take for instance Dara Torres, who, while incredibly performing in the Olympic Trials at the age if 41,is also known for her swimsuit modeling on the side. Why? Think: money. Torres is often singled out for her beauty, as she was the first female athlete to appear in the Sports Illustrated (for men) Swimsuit Issue.

Another example is Lisa Leslie of the LA Sparks. When was the last time you saw her perform on TV? When was the last time you saw her in a Got Milk ad, or on a billboard somewhere? Most likely you’d suggest the latter, as she is widely known as the “face” of women’s basketball as a Wilhemina model. But what about her being the most dominant player in the WNBA? Where did that news go?

Leslie (and Torres) make their bucks as a models, not as a top performers, and this (again) relates back to what we as a society value more in a woman: athleticism or beauty? At the end of the day, we’re still a society who’d rather have our girls look good than perform great on the playing field.

Yes, as I said in my post about Title IX, there are (thank God) more opportunities for women to play, and we have come along way in almost 40 years, but we’re still not there.

We can’t even get a Sports Illustrated magazine to be successful. And part of it is our fault. I mean, to be honest, we don’t really have time to sit around and be fans of our sports. Instead, we’re out there trying to make it in corporate America, or we’re spending our free time trying to look good. Some of us are trying to raise families, make dinner, and get the kids back and forth from their sports. A lot of us spend our free time working out in the gym to stay in shape. Few of us have time to be fans of our sports. And that’s another huge reason as to why we can’t get SI for Women to be successful. And my fear is we never will have that time. That is, unless, our culture starts shifting its values.

As someone who now falls into the age category of what would be the readership for SI for women, I say it’s time we call the magazine and request its reappearance, at least on the Web. (These days print magazines aren’t generating the readership revenue they had in the past, largely due to blogs such as mine.) We need more coverage of women’s sports. I mean, seriously, if a 10-year-old girl loves women’s sports, where do we tell them to go read about it? There is a lack here. We need to know what’s being accomplished, and how great our girls are doing on the playing fields of America (and the world).

Until then, girls, we’ll continue to balk at the yearly Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated (for men) — that is, unless one of our stellar athletes is pretty enough to make it on the cover.

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I know I’m a few days late on this, but I definitely want to address this. Happy 36th birthday to Title IX, the federal law granting girls and women in high schools and colleges the right to equal opportunity in sports.

Title IX states,

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

But the greatest visible impact Title IX has made in our society is seen in sports. Since its passage on June 23, 1972,  female athletes across the national have been competing at levels we’d never thought possible.

But as women, we need to protect what we have fought for. The battle continues in Congress to ensure Title IX remains strong and effective.

Further, we need to support this legislation at a stronger level. It needs to be tested in our nation’s high schools. Send a message to your congressional representative though the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Together, we can fight for we have, and change what we will become. Happy Birthday Title IX. If you didn’t exist, my life would be drastically different.

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I really, REALLY love the idea around Big Think. Instant access to expert opinions and some of the most thoughtful insights to have existed. We can record, document and share the strongest beliefs of the most incredibly intelligent people in the world. Truly a profound idea.

One of the best videos I’ve seen so far is that of Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor from Havard Business School. She believes eveyone has the potential to become great leaders, but it depends upon their access to intellectual power, as well as the constraint of a top-down model of an heirarchal society.

I also believe that our culture thrives upon the values that are provided in sports. And with encouragement and support, leaders are born, made and made great.

And now, with the power of the internet, we can capture the ideas and thoughts of our world’s leaders through Big Think.

So how do you get on there? You pay at least $20,000. Then you have to convice the Web site that you are an expert in a field. Sounds easy, right?

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Dara TorresIt has been studied and confirmed over and over again: age and gender each have a significant impact on the cardiac response to exercise. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem to apply to Dara Torres, a 41-year-old mother who is attempting to qualify for her fifth Olympic Games on June 29-July 6 at the USA Swimming Team Trials.

If Dara Torres qualifies for the Beijing Olympics, she will become the first swimmer to make five Olympic teams and will be the oldest female Olympic swimmer to date. She is truly the definition of the bionic woman, and serves as an inspiration to those who battle the inevitable obstacle of age.

To put this phenomenon into perspective, in 1984 (the year before I was born) Torres won her first Olympic gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. She was 14 years old. Here she is, today, still kicking butt.

Torres boggles the minds of exercise physiologists everywhere. Her physicality is remarkable for her age, and because of this, she receives regular and frequent drug tests to prove she is for real.

Her training regimen is different than the 17-year-olds she competes against. Wendy Lewellen from the Women’s Sports Foundation says,

“She takes Thursdays and Sundays off from her typical 7-2:30 work-outs, and she plays close attention to her diet. At 5’11”, she’s 10 pounds lighter than she was in 2000. I expected to encounter in Torres a living nutritional chemistry experiment. But aside from relying heavily on her Living Fuel shakes and bars in the early part of the day, her diet sounds simply sensible.”

What makes a professional athlete a true champion? In my opinion, it’s how they use their image and voice to make an impact on society.

Torees does just that. She has used her influence to raise awareness around health issues that have touched her life. Toyota sponsors her effort to spotlight eating disorders, which is a very large problem in the community of female athletes.

I’d like to wish Dara Torres the best of luck as she takes to the lanes June 29-July 6 in Omaha, Neb. For more information on the event, go to USASwimming.org.

To get an even better understanding of how amazing her story has become, check out the below ABC “Person of the Week” video.

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As a fervent democrat, I find that sometimes I don’t have patience for republicans. But there is one exception I’d like to make, and she is truly one of a kind.

Republican Sarah Palin, a possible running mate for Presidential candidate John McCain, is the first female governor of Alaska.

Here’s the catcher: she credits her success to the Title IX federal law, which guarantees women equal opportunities in education, including school sports, with helping her get where she is.

Sarah told Alaska Business Monthly,

“I had a great upbringing under Title IX. I can’t imagine where I’d be without the opportunities provided to me in sports. Sports taught me that gender isn’t an issue; in fact, when people talk about me being the first female governor, I’m a little absent from that discussion, because I’ve never thought of gender as an issue. In sports, you learn self-discipline, healthy competition, to be gracious in victory and defeat, and the importance of being part of a team and understanding what part you play on that team. You all work together to reach a goal, and I think all of those factors come into play in my role as governor.”

Since she was sworn into office as Governor, she has helped Alaska invest $5 billion in state savings, overhaul education funding, and implement the Senior Benefits Program that provides support for low-income older Alaskans.

She created Alaska’s Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to provide oversight and maintenance of oil and gas equipment, facilities and infrastructure, and the Climate Change Subcabinet to prepare a climate change strategy for Alaska.

Sarah Heath Palin arrived in Alaska with her family in 1964, when her parents came to teach school in Skagway. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. Palin, who graduated from Wasilla High School in 1982, has lived in Skagway, Eagle River and Wasilla.

She is married to Todd Palin, who is a lifelong Alaskan, a production operator on the North Slope and a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world’s longest snowmachine race.

Seems like the values of sports are important in her family. This is yet another attribute to the success that sports creates in women. I can only hope that her inspiration continues to filter to those of our future.

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I came across this video tonight and thought it was pretty cool. I think surfing is one of those sports that is unappreciated on a large level – especially on the East Coast, and particularly among women. Sofia Mulanovich is one of few who has broken through the stereotypes of this male-dominated sport and has sincerely achieved greatness.

Originally from Lima, Peru, Sofia grew up with two brothers and learned to swim at the young age of three. She began to boogie board at the age of five, and traded it in for her surf board at the age of nine.

At only 25 years old (soon to be 26), Sofia has She is the first South American to ever win the World Title. In fact, in 2004, she won three out of the six Wold Championship Tour events and finished the season as World Champion. She is sponsored by Roxy.

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When health and technology meet, a scary thing happens: there’s an obesity problem. Check out this hilarious video about the Wii Fit, the latest invention to keep kids fat. I love this video!

My favorite part is when the narrator says,

“Instead of having your kids get outside to play and get exercise, why not have them stand right in front of the TV? You’ll save that money on soccer registration.”

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