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A study was recently conducted about the perceived gender-equity barriers in college coaching and administration. In this study, which will be available on the NCAA website in November, it was found that 51.7 percent of female student-athletes said they would prefer their coach to be a male, with only 40.7 percent preferring their coach to be a female.

In a blog posted on the Double-a Zone, the writer skims the surface for what may be the cause of this, (at first glance), alarming finding:

“Before Title IX, sports were the jurisdiction of men and boys.  … Without early encouragement, which often came from fathers, many women may never have picked up a glove or shot a basket.”

Good point, Marta!  If it weren’t for my dad and the competition and influence of my male cousins, I probably never would’ve been as interested in sports as I eventually became.  By the age of 10, I was playing basketball, soccer, softball, and swimming all year round.  As many of my coaches as I can remember were male.  The only female influences I had as an athlete were my teammates, an assistant high school softball coach, and the men’s high school swim coach.  (Yes – the men’s team had a female coach, and the women’s team had a male coach, in 1996 nonetheless!)

It wasn’t until I got to the college level that I had my own personal experience with a female coach.  As a competitive, enthusiastic, and athletic female I was starving for female leadership.  The little interaction that I had with female coaches in high school was enough for those women to become my mentors and people that I idolized, not only as women, but as coaches, and leaders.  It is the lack of female leadership and mentoring that I had growing-up that has driven me to coaching and teaching.  To be able to influence a females life through athletics can provide one with great confidence, opportunity, self-esteem, and the strength to carry that female athlete through the rest of their life.

As a collegiate assistant coach of females and males, what is alarming to me is the low number of representation of females as coaches of women’s team.

In a study titled Women in Intercollegiate Sport, Linda Jean Carpenter, and R. Vivian Acosta, update an ongoing their longitudinal national survey, spanning 31 years.  The website also includes a one page synosis of Title IX, and other interesting information.

The two women, both professors emerita of Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, have been involved in Title IX and gender equity issues for over the last 30 years, and have also published a book titled, Title IX.

Now for the findings …

“42.8% of women’s teams are coached by a female head coach.
57.2% of women’s teams are coached by a male head coach.
2 to 3% of men’s teams are coached by a female head coach.
20.6% of all teams (men’s and women’s) are coached by a female head coach
WHEN TITLE IX WAS ENACTED IN 1972, OVER 90% OF THE HEAD COACHES FOR WOMEN’S TEAMS AND ABOUT 2% OF THE COACHES OF MEN’S TEAMS WERE FEMALES”

Don’t get me wrong, there were favorable findings to this study.

For example, participation of female athletes is at it’s highest ever, with 9101 teams across the board.  Also at an all-time high are the number of paid assistant coaches of women’s teams, the highest representation of female athletic directors since the mid 70s, and the highest ever number of females employed in intercollegiate athletics.

The study goes on to research the difference in number of female coaches per division, and the impact the sex of the athletic director has on the percentage of female coaches.

This study was reported on in Time magazine and the Associated Press in the summer of 2007.  The article in the Time’s, Where are the Women Coaches?, provides some answers.  There has been an increase in the attractiveness of coaching women’s teams with the increase in funding, publicity, and prestige, these jobs have become much more desirable to men.

Because of 80% of college athletic directors are men, this leaves these men, who decide to entire the world of coaching women, with a clear advantage over women.  When we fill these roles with men, we are not showing women that they can do anything.  We are showing women that they can succeed and excel in a male dominated world.  As a result:

“Their own expectations, their own aspirations are limited and distorted as a result,” says Marcia Greenberger, a co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

In the Associated Press article, Deborah Rhode, a Stanford University law professor states: “Title IX opened so many more opportunities for women athletes, but it also made positions coaching women’s teams much more attractive to men.  Often women are facing barriers to getting those jobs that weren’t there when they were competing with other women and running those programs.”

From Where Are the Women Coaches?:  When the WNBA started in 1997, seven of its eight head coaches were women.  Now nine of its 13 coaches are MEN.  “Just as opportunities are opening up for women coaches, [these jobs] seem to be escaping them,” says NCAA president Myles Brand. “It’s ironic, even a bit cruel.”

Why is this happening?  Is this because the female athletes PREFER male coaches, or because the administration and the corporate offices PREFER male coaches?

I will be interested to read the complete findings of the NCAA gender equity survey, and you can be sure to read a blog here when those results are released to the public!

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Last night, the Detroit Shock swept the San Antonio Stars in the WNBA finals by clinching game three with a final score of 76-60.

There is no doubt that Kate Smith’s performance late in the game was the highlight of the night.

ESPN reported that Smith hit a long jumper and then drained a high-arching 3 that made it 62-47 and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Smith led the Shock with a team-high 18 points. Check out this incredible display of great shooting in this ESPN video of the WNBA championship.

It’s certainly exciting to hear that crowd go nutts. Can’t wait until next year.

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Becky Hammon and Kate Smith

Last night, in game 2 of the WNBA finals, the Detroit Shock beat the San Antonio Stars 69-61. This now puts the Shock up two games.

The Shock came ready to play, as they built a big lead in the first quarter with a 19-2 lead in less than 6 minutes into the game. Kate Smith ruled the court last night for the Shock with 22 points, and Becky Hammon led San Antonio with 24 points.

“Katie Smith is killing us,” Hammon said. “And she’s facilitating a lot of people.”

Deanna Nolan and Kara Braxton each contributed 12 points for the Shock.

Even though the Shock are up two games, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Game 3 is tomorrow (Sunday) at 4:30pm ET on ESPN2. For more information, check out WNBA.com.

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With MLB smack in the middle of their playoffs and football season in full swing, it can sometimes be difficult to pay attention to what’s going on with our women’s pro basketball teams.

But I can assure you this: the WNBA finals are going to be exciting. Watch game 2 tonight at 7:30pm EST on ESPN2 as the Stars try and answer back to Detroit’s one game lead.

As ESPN’s Michelle Voepel puts it, “Not surprisingly, the Shock and the Silver Stars said the same thing on Thursday: Game 1 — a 77-69 Detroit victory — doesn’t mean anything.”

According to Voepel, there are benefits to both teams right now.

The Shock have won two WNBA titles and were runner-up last year. Detroit is playing for the championship for the third consecutive season. However, they’re fighting against San Antonio, who had two fantastic finishes on its home court in the Western Conference finals against Los Angeles.

The Shock’s two “old-timers” — Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Katie Smith — are catalysts in scoring, while Deanna Nolan sets the tone on defense and commands so much attention on offense that the rest of the Shock benefits.

What’s more:  Kate Smith is something truly amazing to watch. She turned 34 in June, and shows that when the situation calls for it, she can still be, as Voepel says, “one of the most reliable and fearless shooters in the sport.”

San Antonio’s guard Becky Hammon is  clear, critical threat on offense and Sophia Young came out of the regular season averaging 17.5 ppg. These girls came to play and stand up to what the Shock have to offer.

But beyond the games themselves, the WNBA’s Web site has so much to offer their fans which adds to the playoff experience. In fact, it almost makes you feel like you are part of the team and that you actually know these players personally simply by reading their blogs.

If you’re a Detroit fan, you read about how Taj McWilliams Franklin is feeling while heading into the finals and how Deanna Nolan feels about her team’s match-up against the Stars.

Or, if you’re more of a San Antonio fan, you can read about how Sophia Young feels she is living a dream.

There’s all kinds of information up there, anything you’d ever want to find. I encourage you to check it out and watch the WNBA finals tonight at 7:30pm on ESPN2.

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Yesterday’s WNBA action was certainly exciting for both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. The Detroit Shock beat NY Liberty 64-55, and LA Sparks were eliminated by San Antonio Silver stars, 76-72.

The two heroes of the day were Deanna Nolan of the Detroit Shock (pictured on the right) and Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars.

Deanna Nolan scored 22 points to lead the Shock in their victory over the Liberty in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday. They play again tonight at 7pm EST on ESPN2.

In the West, Becky Hammon led the Silver Stars in their Western Conference Championship by scoring 35 points and making four free throws in the final 36 seconds.

It was definately an exciting day for the WNBA. Tonight’s matchup will be equally exciting; I just wish we wasn’t so overpowered by all of the football coverage going on right now.

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Just a reminder to everyone: WNBA playoffs are today, taking place in Detroit. Tune in to ESPN2.

At 3pm EST, Detroit Shock plays NY Liberty for the East; right now, the Liberty are up 1-0.

At 5pm EST, the LA Sparks take on San Antonio Stars for the West; right now, the two teams are tied at 1-1.

These should be some pretty good games; I’ll be posting about them later. For more information, check out WNBA.com.

Have a great Sunday!

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The Big Lead, one of the most-read, popular sports blogs on the Web posted today about lesbian relationships in college basketball.

His source: The Dallas Morning News (great pick! <insert sarcasm here>). This story discusses a female basketball player named Jennifer Colli at SMU who is suing the school and its head coach basketball Rhonda Rompola for revoking her scholarship.

This all happened after Colli complained to the athletic director about “inappropriate questions and comments” regarding her sex life and other gay relationships on the team.

Now, of course The Big Lead will have something intelligent to say about this, since they’re so familiar…

“In football, we could see Urban Meyer shouting at Tim Tebow on the sideline, “What’s the matter, man, you get so much ass last night that you can’t focus?” and teammates laughing. But for a coach to say, ‘hey Sally, did you spend all night gettin’ busy with Suzie?’ and both Sally and Suzie were in the huddle, well, that’s pretty messed up.”

Actually, dude, BOTH of those situations are wrong… for multiple reasons.

First, college sports is a job. And nobody should be discussing anyone else’s relationships OR sex life. It’s something that needs to remain private, because (obviously) too many people have differing opinions.

Second, college coaches have no right to pry or ask their players about things going on in their personal lives, no matter what the nature.

Third, these things should NEVER be discussed in front of other players, if at all.

As for Urban Meyer shouting to Tim Tebow, that’s ridiculous, incredibly degrading, sexist and also inappropriate.

I have to say, with the WNBA FINALS happening over the weekend, don’t you think The Big Lead could find something slightly more interesting in women’s sports to talk about?

If you really want to be disgusted, check out the comments.

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