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Posts Tagged ‘athletics’

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.

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I Tivo’d this episode of Ellen last night to catch Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Found it on YouTube today.

Something I find particularly interesting is our culture’s obsession with them wearing baithing suits (barely nothing). And Ellen makes a point to bring up that Kerri smacks Misty May on the butt when they do well.

Is that really what people are interested in?

Regardless, Ellen is hilarious, and this is a cute feature. Enjoy!

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Last week, Olympic officials set up a “gender determination lab” to test the gender of female athletes suspected to be male. This spurred a beautifully written Op Ed in the New York Times. I encourage all readers (female athletes in particular) to take a look.

The subject of a “sex test” began back in 1968 when it was believed that Communist countries were using male athletes in women’s competitions.

But a “sex test” really describes the world’s obsession with the difference between what is male and what is female. Because excellence in athletics can sometimes blur that line, test are required to make sure no one crosses it.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, the writer for the NY Times Op Ed, says,

“The Olympic hosts seem to want to impose a binary order upon the messy continuum of gender. They are searching for concreteness and certainty in a world that contains neither.”

On the surface, the test seems fair. That is, until you consider where the tests are being conducted, and what type of cultural bias might be on the table.

Boylan says that China’s tests are likely to produce the wrong answers, because they measure “maleness” and “femaleness” differently. Also, the test is looking for a Y chromosome, and androgen sensitivities (a fairly common problem) could cause many females to test “positive” for “maleness.”

We can see the type of impact this result can have by listening to the story of  Santhi Soundarajan (pictured above), a runner from India who was “sex tested” in Asia in 2006.

“[Santhi Soundarajan] was stripped of her silver medal in the 800 meters at the Asian Games in 2006 for “failing” a sex test. An Indian athletics official told The Associated Press that Soundarajan had “abnormal chromosomes.” She was ridiculed in the press, and her career was destroyed. In the wake of her global humiliation, she attempted suicide.”

This test is not safe nor fair, and faulty results can cause public humiliation and shame. It could pose a serious problem for the women who we are sending overseas to compete, and is a topic that needs to be further discussed on a broader level.

In terms of putting this subject into words, listen to Ms. Boylan…

“It would be nice to live in a world in which maleness and femaleness were firm and unwavering poles. People can be forgiven for wanting to live in a world as simple as this, a place in which something as basic as gender didn’t shift unsettlingly beneath our feet.

But gender is malleable and elusive, and we need to become comfortable with this fact, rather than afraid of it.”

It will be interesting to see if we hear more on the “gender determination lab” which will test female athletes suspected of being male in Beijing.

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According to The Nutz blog, it seems to be only what we look like, not so much how well we play…

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Once an athlete, always an athlete. You never lose it. Your entire life, you have certain values ingrained in you that make you who you are. Teamwork, goal-setting, discipline, competitiveness, leadership, fair play… we all know how it works.

So when a friend of mine sent me a link for a feature by Curve magazine which profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes, I wasn’t at all surprised.

The piece is entitled “All American Girls,” and profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes in sports they’re trying for the first time. From surfing and power lifting to flag football and rugby, the stories of these women should inspire all of us to leave our fears and doubts about injuries and time commitments behind and take to the fields of games we’ve been itching to try since we were young. They might not be professionals, but as far as athletic competition is concerned, it’s just the beginning.

One of these profiles really caught my eye, and it’s about Mona Rayside who plays in a rugby club in Washington, DC.

Mona Rayside is 30 years old and has been playing rugby since 1991. Although rugby has been famously dubbed “the barbarian’s sport played by gentlemen,” it started attracting ladies in the mid-1970s and now rivals softball for popularity. Rayside plays for the Maryland Stingers, one of the top women’s club teams in the nation.

Rayside likes the sport because it resembles “female power.” She says, “When I started playing, it was a revelation, because all of a sudden people were excited to see a big ol’ girl come on the field,” she recalls, a smile in her voice. “Rugby … helped me recognize and find my own strength, and to realize that I was physically strong and that that was something to be desired.”

As a basketball player, one of the aspects about Rugby that I am particularly jealous of is the sense of community among its players, or, “ruggers.” First, they’re tough people in general. To go out there and take a hit with no padding on has GOT to hurt. But they encourage each other to get right back up and keep playing.

Second, after the match, they DRINK (party + eat) with their opponents! Often dubbed a “drink up,” this great tradition ingrains sportsmanship and respect for the sport in each of the athletes.

Third, I love the sense of community. I am jealous of the clubs set up for those of us out of college in cities around the world. These serve as “families” of sort (much like my college basketball team was for me). It’s a great way to meet people and have fun. I miss that sense of community, and having moved to a new city, I wish I had it here. Unfortunately, when it comes to basketball, it seems that level of organization seems to dissipate after college.

Although I’d love to try it, I don’t have the time to commit to learning rugby right now. And I don’t think or want to think that I’d enjoy taking a hit that hard.

Plus, my “love” is with basketball. My community is found among basketball players, or “ballers.” I’ve been playing the sport competitively since I was about six years old.

With the overwhelming national popularity of women’s basketball, I really wish there would be more formalized “clubs” that we could join and participate in as adults . I’m not talking about just rec leagues. I’m talking about clubs, membership-oriented communities of adults who fund raise, practice on a regular basis and travel to play in tournaments on the weekends in various cities.

Ballers, where are we? It’s time to get organized. Maybe we can learn a few things from our “rugger” friends.

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