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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?

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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 recently came across an article from the Title IX blog which discusses how female kicker Kacy Stuart, a prospective high school place-kicker in Georgia, was dismissed from the New Creation Center Crusaders, a private Christian academy in McDonough, Ga.

Why? Because she’s a girl.

And here’s the kicker (hehe)…. she can kick 50 yard field goals!

Apparently she had been practicing with the Crusaders for two months. According to Kacy’s mother, that all ended when executive board chairman Hank St. Denis discovered a girl was playing on the team.

“St. Denis then requested Kacy not be allowed to play, effectively overturning New Creation’s decision to grant her a spot on the team,” says ESPN.

Now, that doesn’t sound very “Christian” to me.

This is all very different from Kacy’s middle school experience. At Union Grove Middle School, a public institution, Kacy and her team went to the state finals.

According to an article in Current, Kacy’s talent was discovered by her high school gym teacher.

“I was playing kickball in 8th grade and my P.E. teacher saw me kick. He thought I had potential, so I played on his football team,” Kacy said.

Kacy’s mother said,

“We’ll file for an injunction if we have to. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep her on the team.”

Love her!

Here’s Kacy’s view of the whole thing…

Kacy says sometimes people ask her why she doesn’t play a “girl” sport, or why she’s not a cheerleader. “People were built for different things,” she said. “I’m built to be a kicker. I just don’t understand why people don’t accept the fact that I like football and I want to play football.”

Go Kacy! I hope you win! You deserve to be out there.

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It’s almost 1am; I just got done watching Randy Paush’s The Last Lecture. Having been diagnosed with brain cancer, this professor of computer science at Garnegie Mellon University gave a talk about life to a group of 500 attendees at the University. The lessons learned can be applied to people of all ages and walks of life.

Randy has some great advice in this piece. You can tell he is incredibly intelligent. And when you combine that kind of intelligence with an ability to speak, educate and socialize, you can truly change the world. I think with this lecture, he has done just that.

Randy’s lecture has generated national attention online (the YouTube video has over 2 million 600 thousand hits) and the print version of this lecture continues to be a best-seller.

My favorite part of the video is his “head fake” analogy. He expalained that when you make people believe they’re having fun and not learning, that’s when you can teach them the most. He’s absolutely right.

Randy emphasized the importance of childhood dreams. One of his biggest dreams was to play in the NFL. Not having totally completed this dream, Randy said that it doesn’t matter, because he’s taken lessons from football that he carried over to his life as an educator.

Telling myself that I would only watch a few minutes of the video, I ended up staying up the entire one hour and 18 minutes to finish this lecture.

Randy is an excellent example of an individual who has changed the world. And he just happened to have played sports as a child. Coincidence? Probably not.

If you haven’t taken an hour out of your life to watch this video yet, what are you waiting for?

Click here to watch it in YouTube.

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