Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Sports Programs’ Category

I’ve been seeing more and more of this V is for Victory campaign flying around the blogosphere. For example, it can be found on one of my favorite bloggers’ sites, Women Like Sports.

The Women’s Sports Foundation is sponsoring/pioneering this campaign – which I completely support. (Hell – anything is something, right?)

Essentially, these are a series of videos dedicated toward getting girls to recognize if their schools are in compliance with Title IX regulations. Which is extremely important. But it can be done better.

I have to be a little bit critical of its transparency and its lack of digital creativity.

1) WSF should have their name all over it – should be completely transparent that this is where these messages are coming from.

2) The URL should not be confusing (which it is). Vis4victory.org. Wow. It’s far easier to just remember womenssportsfoundation.org. Why not create a micro site with its own (non-confusing) URL? Why is that so difficult? I mean, if you’re going to spring the $ for the video, why not spring for a place it can live permanently?

3) The videos (although true) are a bit unrealistic. Sometimes the inequity isn’t as obvious as these videos make them out to be. Case studies and testimonials would work much better. (not sure of legal issues surrounding that)

4) The questions in WSF’s poll are completely directed toward parents. This needs to change. The girls (themselves) should be answering these questions. It makes girls seem like passive watchers instead of active participants.

5) This campaign needs to be interactive (similar to Gonzaga’s inspired season). Why not have the poll in the video? Why not make this a YouTube video? Why doesn’t WSF create a YouTube video channel and hold contests for girls (i.e., best sports moment caught on film)? The possibilities are endless here.

I hope WSF is watching – and paying attention. Their campaigns could go so much further if the right perspectives were brought in.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Apparently, there was a huge Title IX case settled this week down at Florida Gulf Coast University.

So much so – in fact – that you’re reading about it here, and you can find it on the Title IX blog, the Naples News and NBC.

Essentially, a group of women including volleyball coach Jaye Flood and women’s golf coach Holly Vaughn registered concerns over Title IX violations in FGCU’s sports programs.

The case won $3.4 million.

Yay!

Jaye Flood

What’s particularly interesting is that Jaye Flood had the best record of any sports team in the school’s history. When she complained of gender inequity, she was rated poorly, suspended and ultimately fired.

And that, my friends, is against the law.

When I first read about this, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I mean, seriously? Does this still happen?

Linda Correia, lead counsel for Flood and Vaughn, says, “This is the price of retaliation,” Correia filed the Title IX lawsuit earlier this year in Ft. Meyers, Florida with Public Justice, a national public interest law firm also based in Washington, DC.

Here’s a little bit more background information on the women who filed suit.

Coach Jaye Flood compiled a record of 80 wins and 13 losses in the first three years of the volleyball program, the best win-loss record of any coach in FGCU history.  In her team’s first year in Division I, Coach Flood’s team  won the Atlantic Sun Conference, and she was honored as the Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year.  After Coach Flood registered her gender equity concerns with the school, and despite her performance, FGCU rated her poorly and suspended her. Coach Flood was fired four days after filing her Title IX lawsuit.

Holly Vaughn

Holly Vaughn

Women’s Golf Coach Holly Vaughn was a professional tour golfer when she developed FGCU’s women’s golf program, accumulating 11 tournament wins in her first four years of play and ranking as high as number 3 in its division.  Unlike male coaches, Coach Vaughn was not offered a full-time position and was not permitted to select her own assistant coach.  Coach Vaughn earned far less than male coaches, and was compelled to share her office in a trailer with a men’s team assistant coach.

Coach Flood and Coach Vaughn complained about gender equity under Title IX and claim they were retaliated against as a consequence.  The law also prohibits retaliation for complaining about Title IX violations.

It’s clear that Title IX needs to stay due to situations such as this. People can’t get away with this, and I’m so happy to see women like Jaye Flood and Holly Vaughn standing up for themselves and lawyers like Linda Correia representing us.

Read Full Post »

So it seems as if I’ve engaged myself in a little bit of a “war” with some proponents of the College Sports Council.

To recap, I posted a few days ago on how the College Sports Council et. al. need to get their facts right before trashing Title IX and the recent Women’s Sports Foundation report on gender in college athletics.

Apparently, my opinion was not digested very well with the CSC and their community of… I don’t want to say “woman-haters,” so I guess I shall say… “Title IX-haters?”

So today, “Stone Cold Button” of the Texas Swimming Blog – whose tagline is Nuke the Whales, but Save the Males! Title IX hurts men’s swimming (& wrestling) – decided to, um, “critique” my recent blog post by writing a response titled Talk Sense to a Fool, where he proceeded to highlight and recap my conversation with a commentor.

So, here is my response to Stone Cold Button:

In your post you said, “”Sure, you have more opportunities as long as you don’t mind switching sports and being a third-string punter.”

You’re exactly right.  The problem is not Title IX, it’s football.

Listen, I agree with you in that men should have the opportunity to swim and do gymnastics and wrestle, etc. But not at the expense of Title IX. You’re pointing the finger in the wrong place.

Why are you (male swimmers) attacking women sports, when we are also on the losing end of athletic departments’ decisions about how to allocate resources and opportunities?  If you had any balls at all, you’d go after football and the fact that colleges value third string punters more than they value men’s swimming.
Also, it was the men’s sports lobby that invented proportionality prong, by the way. Back when men outnumbered women in college, it seemed like an easy way to comply without having to add a whole lot of women’s sports.

But now that the shoe is on the other foot and women outnumber men, you cry about it?

Read Full Post »

I read an interesting article this morning on the Wall Street Journal’s Law page about the Women’s Sports Foundation’s report on gender, money and sports.

This WSJ article provides two unique perspectives: one from Title IX’s biggest opposer, the College Sports Council,  and one from an unbiased researcher.

The major finding of the WSF report was that women continue to be significantly underrepresented among college athletes.

CSC is completely against Title IX and accuses the WSF report of being flawed, claiming Title IX cuts men’s sports. Fact is, they’re wrong. They can’t deny the fact that men have more opportunities than women athletically.

Judging by yesterday’s comment on my blog post, I’d say CSC is likely paying people to non-transparently go onto blogs and post opinions about this. BAD MOVE, CSC.

John Cheslock, a researcher from the University of Arizona, couldn’t have said it any better,

“The CSC took NCAA figures and made a simplistic adjustment,” Mr. Cheslock said. “They really should be called into question for that.”

I can’t agree more.

Eric Pearson, chairman of the CSC, I think it’s time for you to SIT DOWN.

Oh, and just so you know, paying people to go on blogs and comment in your favor is not ethical.

Read Full Post »

The Women’s Sports Foundation came out with an incredibly interesting report yesterday, which could be the most accurate description of college sports’ participation patterns to date.

The report even made The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, indicating its overall importance to society.

While more women are participating in recent years than ever, the report, entitled Who’s Playing College Sports, discusses issues such as money, race and gender which influence athletic participation.

What did they look at?
Well, they took a 10-year NCAA sample containing 738 NCAA colleges and universities is examined over the 1995-96 to 2004-05 period.

What did they find?

(Executive Summary) “The results demonstrate that women continue to be significantly underrepresented among college athletes. At the average higher education institution, the female share of undergraduates is 55.8% while the female share of athletes is 41.7%. Women did enjoy a substantial increase in participation opportunities in the late 1990s, but this progress slowed considerably in the early 2000s. In fact, the increase in women’s participation levels was roughly equal to the increase in men’s participation levels between 2001-02 and 2004-05.”

Major findings:

1) Women’s athletic participation levels substantially increased during the late 1990s, but this growth slowed considerably in the early 2000s.
2) Women’s participation still lags far behind men’s participation levels.
3) Men’s overall athletic participation levels increased over time.
4) While a few men’s sports suffered substantial declines, a larger number of men’s sports enjoyed increases that far outnumbered those losses.
5) The only subset of higher education institutions that experienced declines in men’s participation levels was NCAA Division I-A schools, the institutions that spend the most on intercollegiate athletics.

Other highlights

Some other important findings (from the Press Release on Market Watch)

The report also disclosed an important rapid increase in spending — 7% per year after inflation on athletic programs like football and basketball — as restricting other athletic opportunities.

Influential factors on college participation in sport include:

– Changes in high school sports participation;
– Rising health care costs;
– Increased numbers of international students;
– The rise of enrollment management strategies;
– The implication of these participation trends on college sports’ diversity.

Another unfortunate finding – in recent years — more women, less diversity (due to offering traditional sports like football, volleyball and basketball and emerging sports like equestrian and synchronized swimming.

To improve diversity, the report recommends that schools take steps to increase the number of athletes of color playing less diverse sports.

Read Full Post »

I recently had the unique opportunity to interview a pioneer who has dedicated her career to bringing a voice to women’s sports, Jane Schonberger. Jane is the founder and “Chief Trailblazer” for Pretty Tough, a #1 site for female athletes and fans of women’s sports.

Geared toward young girls and their growing desire to play sports, Jane established the Pretty Tough (PT) brand to demonstrate that a woman’s femininity and desire to play hard can be strong and can co-exit. Not only does PT do an excellent job of conveying this message to an audience who needs to hear it the most, but the site also has some of the best comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of women’s sports available.

I am a strong supporter of this site and this company, and I wish Jane the best of luck in her future endeavors. (You might see me guest blogging for PT in the future).

Check out the below interview. I hope you enjoy her words as much as I have. Thank you, Jane, for your inspiration and taking the time to speak with me.

(MH) Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background and your role at Pretty Tough.

(JS) After a successful career as content developer and entertainment/brand marketing executive, I wanted to focus my attention on something I really cared about. I have two teenage daughters – both athletes – who are my role models.  I wanted to create a brand that spoke to them – and other girls of their generation – demonstrating that a woman’s femininity and desire to play hard and be strong can co-exist.

I teamed up with friends and colleagues that I’d worked with at Disney, Fox and other studios to develop and market the brand. I serve as the Chief Trailblazer but I have help from a talented group of writers, designers, consumer product gurus, licensing professionals, athletes and coaches.

(MH) Have you ever played sports? If so, which sports and how have they had an impact upon your current career and involvement with Pretty Tough?


(JS) As a kid I mostly played sports on a recreational level. I played tennis and swam competitively for a couple years but wasn’t a super serious athlete. The impact on my adult life comes primarily from lessons learned about goal-setting, perseverance and mental toughness.

Today I still play tennis and swim – I also love to hike and bike – and I play basketball on a Moms League at our local park.

I’m also an avid spectator – one of my daughters is an elite level soccer player, the other is a fencer – and I love going to youth sports competitions as well as college and professional sports events.

(MH) Tell me a little bit about the background of Pretty Tough (the book) and how the Web site and sports blog evolved from there. Does Liz Tigelaar have any continued impact on the site?

(JS) One of our early goals when we established Pretty Tough was to publish a series of books that featured young female athletes. We wanted stories about pushing limits and busting stereotypes – e.g. the popular jock can just as easily be a girl as a guy.

Razorbill, a division of Penguin Young Readers, shared our vision and bought the series. Pretty Tough was the first book. Playing with the Boys was the second in the series and we’re working on the third and fourth books now.

Pretty Tough novels illustrate the life of female athletes in a way that’s never been done before. We wanted to show the grittiness and sweat that athletes must endure to be the best they can be. The books also delve into the lives of the athletes—their friendships and romances—stuff that appeals to girl readers.

We created the Pretty Tough book series because we love to read, and as teens, we could never find good books with a female athletic main character. We hope readers can identify with our characters and see how they deal with a lot of the same issues teens face today.

Author/screenwriter Liz Tigelaar was brought on board because she supports girls in their quest to be both strong and tough athletes without losing their sense of girlie-ness and femininity.  She loved the idea of writing books about teenagers for teenagers that sends a positive message and she’s done a terrific job capturing the voice of our characters.

(MH) I noticed there is a PT Team. I’m curious, how did this group of people come together? How did you find so many voices to represent so many different sports?

(JS) We developed a sponsorship/ambassador program last year to recognize girls in diverse sports. We have an application process and girls on our team benefit on a variety of levels.  PT Team members get exposure on our site and via our marketing campaigns; they receive a free cap and shirt, stickers, and other promotional material. They also earn discounts on products purchased through our online store and commissions on sales generated by their efforts.


(MH) In my opinion, Pretty Tough covers sports better than many other resources out there. Who is in charge of updating and keeping track of all the latest female sports news? How do they do it?


(JS) Given our limited staff, the task of keeping the site up-to-date is my responsibility. We work with a talented group of girls and women who contribute material specific to their sport and occasionally assign articles we think will be of general interest.

We’re always looking for new writers and experts and want to provide a forum for all female athletes so hit us up if you think you have something to contribute.


(MH) I noticed there is a “Life & Style” section to the site. What is the purpose of this section, and do you think that section is important in order to attain viewers?


(JS) At our heart, we are a lifestyle brand and I think it’s important for girls to understand how sports and leading active lives are core to a healthy lifestyle. By profiling certain personalities and depicting popular culture, we are essentially connecting the dots and demonstrating how sports and sports themes impact our lives positively on a daily basis.

(MH) How does Pretty Tough profit from the site?


(JS) The site was originally established to develop brand awareness for Pretty Tough and serve as an online shopping destination for Pretty Tough products. It has since evolved into a marketing/advertising vehicle for complementary companies as well.


(MH) I was once told by a female sports blogger that a main reason women’s sports publications such as Sports Illustrated for Women have fizzled out over the years is because they can’t compete with the fashion and consumer magazines and publications, and there is limited interest in the sports news alone. What do you think about this?


(JS) I think that print publications in general are finding it difficult to compete with the internet and other content delivery options. Women’s sports magazines just happened to be at the forefront of pubs experiencing financial difficulties. The current trend is in niche content and given the targeted demographic, I think marketers will find women’s sports sites a more cost-effective way to reach their audience.


(MH) I’ve written about this a few times on my blog, but something that really is annoying to me is that male sports bloggers often only cover female sports when the participant is “hot” or attractive. Have you seen this or come across this? What are your thoughts on male sports bloggers?


(JS) Objectifying female athletes is a favorite pastime of many male bloggers. It’s obvious that “hot” or attractive personalities are going to garner more media attention (whether it’s David Beckham or Amanda Beard) but bloggers only interested in T&A are abhorrent. I love to see female athletes in the spotlight but it’s important to recognize their athletic talents and achievements as well as their physical attributes.


(MH) If you look back to the WNBA fight that happened a few months ago, why do you think that was so successful in grabbing so much attention?


(JS) Although it might not have been the kind of attention the WNBA wanted, the mini-brawl did shine the spotlight on the players momentarily. Female athletes are just as competitive as men and when pushed to the edge they are obviously capable of exhibiting the same lack of control.  The bigger question should be: Now that the women have shown they can fight like the NBA players – can they get paid the same as the guys too?:-)

(MH) Since I started covering the Olympics this year, my site traffic jumped. There seems to be a strong interest during the Olympics which fizzles out over the year. Have you seen this as well? What are your thoughts about the Olympics and its ability to generate an interest in female sports?


(JS) With all of the media hype and money spent on the Olympics, it’s no surprise that interest in all sports was heightened during the event. Athletes such as Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richardson, Dara Torres, Kerri Walsh and Misty Misty May-Treanor received well deserved attention. Equally important was a focus on athletes like fencer Mariel Zagunis, pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski and martial artist Diana Lopez. Hopefully interest in them and other female athletes will continue.

(MH) What do you think about women’s softball being eliminated for the London games? Do you think there’s a chance to bring it back?


(JS) Softball’s elimination from the 2012 Games sucks and since the basis of the IOC’s decision was nebulous at best, I think there’s a good chance they’ll reconsider for the 2016 Games.

(MH) It seems there is a large disconnect between the millions of girls and women (through college) who compete in sports on a daily basis and the few of us who cover and follow women’s sports as adults (after college). What do you think about this? Do you think there is a market out there for adult females who want to learn about and follow women’s sports?


(JS) I’m sure there is a market for adult females who want to follow women’s sports – albeit a small one compared to the male market. At PrettyTough.com we try to focus not only on the sports but also on the lifestyle aspects. Our audience is one that lives a “sports-inspired life” and is also interested in the health, beauty, and entertainment aspects of athletics.

(MH) What do you think is essential in capturing this market? What is holding it back from taking off right now? Why aren’t advertisers interested and investing (i.e., Sports Illustrated for Women got dropped a few years back)?


(JS) As mentioned before, niche content and a targeted demographic provide marketers with great opportunities. The cost of producing and distributing a magazine is significant but there are a number of alternative methods for delivering content that provide marketers and advertisers with cost-effective solutions. Companies seriously looking at the bottom line recognize that women involved in sports and living a healthy lifestyle are a valuable demographic with enormous spending power and they should be finding efficient ways to reach them.

(MH) What do you think the future of women’s sports will be? Do you think we’ll generate more attention, or do you think it has leveled off?


(JS) I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just as college sports has exploded in the past 20 years, women’s sports will be the next huge growth area. College basketball games used to be played in empty arenas  – the first nationally televised game wasn’t until 1968 (UCLA vs. Univ. of Houston). Today there are entire cable networks devoted to college sports and they’re big business for all involved. Women’s sports will follow a similar trajectory.

— I’d like to thank Jane Schonberger again for taking the time to speak to me. Her words and mission at Pretty Tough are critical in our ongoing fight to bring a voice to women’s sports online.

Read Full Post »

I recently came across a stunning interview with Jess Ream, a student at Mount Holyoke College, where she discussed the issues of being a transgender athlete.

As a bisexual transgender athlete, Ream discussed things like how she doesn’t prefer to use pronouns, and she lets people call her what is most comfortable for them, since she doesn’t mind.

But because her gender identity lies somewhere between a man and a woman, Ream didn’t feel “at home” on either mens or women’s teams. Coming out as a transgender person actually stopped her sports career.

I find this situation incredibly fascinating. It’s really tough for me (personally) to decide whether or not we should get rid of the gender separation, which Ream says is necessary.

If we did get rid of the separation, would women ever be able to compete on the same playing field?

Or, would competing on the same playing field give us the media attention that we deserve?

Interested in hearing your thoughts.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »