Tuesday, September 16, 2014
After a week of unprecedented bad publicity, the NFL has hired four women to shape new policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.
The announcement was something of a mixed message, coming just moments before the Minnesota Vikings announced that Adrian Peterson, who was arrested Saturday for recklessly or negligently injuring a child, was cleared to play Sunday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement in a letter to owners, writing that the goal is “to make a real difference on these and other issues.”
Anna Isaacson, currently a league vice-president of community relations and philanthropy, assumed the additional title of vice-president of social responsibility. She will oversee initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the issues and decreasing the instances of violence. Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith were hired as senior advisers because of their experience with the issues. Friel is the former head of sex-crimes prosecution for the Manhattan district attorney; Randel is a co-founder of NO MORE, an advocacy group focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault; and Smith is former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The two Raiderette cheerleaders who revolted against the team this year—suing the Oakland Raiders for paying them less than minimum wage, withholding paychecks until the end of the season, and never reimbursing them for business expenses—have declared victory. Lacy T. and Sarah G., who filed a class-action suit on behalf of their fellow Raiderettes this spring, have reached a settlement with the NFL franchise. The team will pay out a total of $1.25 million to 90 women who cheered between 2010 and 2013. That translates to an average $6,000 payout per cheerleader per season for the first three seasons covered by the suit, and an average of $2,500 each for the final season. (Right before Lacy’s lawsuit hit, the Raiders unexpectedly padded the 2013 cheerleaders’ checks with additional cash). According to Sharon Vinick, lawyer for the Raiderettes, future Raider cheerleaders will be paid minimum wage for all hours worked, receive checks every two weeks, and be reimbursed for business expenses they incur in the course of the job.
“We are excited that the Raiders have decided to pay their current cheerleaders in accordance with the law,” Sarah G. said in a statement through her attorney. “This was our goal and I am pleased to say I was a part of an organization whose management decided to make these changes. Now we can just go back to dancing, being respected and taking down the Niners when they try to step onto our field!”
Is the settlement fair? $1.25 million sure sounds like a big number, and for many current and former Raiderettes, the split ain’t bad: The women who cheered for all four seasons covered by the suit could stand to receive checks for more than $20,000. (As for the naysaying cheerleaders who complained that Lacy T. and Sarah G. were making them look bad by speaking up: If they fail to cash their checks, the money will be donated to Girls Inc., an Alameda County nonprofit that provides enrichment activities for local girls.)
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Slate, The Meaning of Pink and
Saturday, August 30, 2014
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced new guidelines for how the league will handle incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault. The change in policy, explained an open letter to team owners, come a month after the NFL was criticized for how it handled player Ray Rice's arrest on domestic violence charges.
Goodell says that the new policies were developed after conversations with outside experts, team owners and the NFL Players Association. The open letter describes several ways in which the NFL plans to provide training, support and resources to personnel, players and their families. It also sets down guidelines for how sexual assault and domestic abuse will be punished in the future.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Local Mom Decides Important Sports Case. Sportcasters have discounted federal judge Claudia Wilken who decided O'Bannon v. NCAA, the landmark case that challenged the NCAA’s longstanding treatment of its college athletes, by describing her as "local PTA mom." Its not her Stanford or Berkeley education nor decades of legal and judicial experience that informed her decision, but her motherly work on the PTA.
[NYT Sportswriter] writes that her “decision [in O’Bannon] may be interpreted much the way her advice at school meetings often was: Let’s work it out, through dialogue and compromise.” If decades of legal experience can’t explain what made Wilken capable of presiding over the O'Bannon case, perhaps her stint in the PTA will.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
It's been a big week for the National Basketball League.
- A team, the San Antonio Spurs, hired WNBA player Becky Hammon in what has been billed as the "first full-time female assistant" coach. (Although she's really the second, as Lisa Boyer worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant coach in 2001-02). See Spurs Hire Becky Hammon, NBA's 2nd Female Assistant Coach
- The NBA players' union hired Skaden attorney Michele Roberts as executive director. Her impressive resume is here.
But the naysaying has already begun. See Male Basketball Coach Says a Female Coach Could Never Mold Could Never "Mold Boys into Successful Men" saying that women could never coach college basketball. Although men coach college women.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Such was the way with both Jimmy Connors and Andy Murray, both Wimbledon winners, when they were young (according to Connors, one of the reasons that he hit the ball like a woman--meaning, relying more on guile and inflection, than pure strength--was because that was how his mom taught him, and he never quite adopted a more "masculine" approach). Murray, the defending Wimbledon male champ, now has a female coach:
Murray had already changed the pretournament narrative, taking on Amélie Mauresmo, a former Wimbledon champion, as his new coach.
Mauresmo is not the first woman to coach on the men’s tour. Several male players, Jimmy Connors included, have been mentored by their mothers. Billie Jean King assisted the American Tim Mayotte in the early 1990s.
Not everyone approves of Murray's decision:
No less a British women’s icon than Virginia Wade, the 1977 Wimbledon champion and a longtime commentator, told reporters regarding Murray’s decision to hire Mauresmo: “I thought they were all fooling around; I think again he’s maybe trying to mess with everybody. She was a great player; she’s a great person. I think she was a little fragile mentally, because she had the capabilities of beating everybody.”
Wade added, “You like to try to get behind people’s thinking, but I can’t really with this one.”
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
NFL teams shoulder most of the blame for players' injuries and sports journalists can shift football cultural norms toward valuing players who put their health first. These are the key findings of a new study that examined health and safety issues in sports. "As sports journalists take more of an advocacy role and support athletes who make their health a priority, attitudes towards injuries and the players who sustain them may gradually begin to change," one co-author said.
These are the key findings of a new study authored by Clemson University researchers Jimmy Sanderson and Melinda Weathers that examined health and safety issues in sports. It was published in the journal Communication & Sport.
"Media coverage of players who decide to sit out or play through an injury may impact players' future decision-making as well as fans' attitudes towards these players," said Sanderson.
"Sitting out during an injury is often viewed as weak and lacking the requisite toughness demanded by football, whereas playing through an injury is often viewed as the action of a warrior who embodies the ethos of sport," Weathers stated.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
From the Daily Iowan: Editorial: Time to Redecorate Kinnick's Pink Locker Room
When opponents of the Iowa football team walk into their locker room on any given autumn Saturday, they are met with a tradition that is unique even by the somewhat off-kilter standards of college sports traditions. The locker room, the walls, the stalls, the towels, the floor, even the urinals, rather than displaying the shade of white common in most Iowa facilities, are bright pink.
The famous pink locker room, started in 1979 by legendary football coach Hayden Fry and garishly renovated in 2005, have become ingrained into the university’s DNA. There is a time when all trends must die, however: The pink locker room should be redecorated.
It’s blatantly obvious that the pink locker room is a rather childish example of a destructive and anachronistic culture. As University of Iowa Professor Kembrew McLeod pointed out in the Des Moines Register last week, the governing philosophy behind the color arrangement is that pink is a “girl” color; forcing the über-masculine opponents of the Hawkeyes to prepare themselves in the presence of a “feminine” color will disturb the opposing players’ minds so much that they will fail to conquer the Hawkeyes.
Friday, April 25, 2014
(photo of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club)
Golf, I've heard it said, began in Scotland. And in Scotland, there is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. This Club is no mere club; it, along with the US Golf Association, creates the venerable Rules of Golf. The Club has also historically prohibited women from belonging to the club, even as honorary members.
That might change, though:
“Members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the founding club of The R&A, will vote on a motion to admit women as members. The Club’s committees are strongly in favor of the rule change and are asking members to support it.”
What prompted the change of heart? As usually the answer in such institutional matters, political pressure and fear of economic damage:
...there was a golf game-changer last year, when the controversy over all-male clubs hit the sports pages as the British Open was held at another men-only member club, Muirfield. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond refused to attend, declaring the male-only rule to be “indefensible in the 21st century.” Others thought so, too, as attendance at Muirfield dropped by 20,000 following Salmond’s personal boycott.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Howard is now working full-time to put together an 8-to-10 team Mixed Gender Basketball league — 12 players to a team, all paid equally. The first teams will be based in the Northeast: Philadelphia, Delaware, New York and New Jersey. He says the season will tip off in July.
But with the WNBA and other leagues, there’s no shortage of ways to see women play pro ball. Why does Howard think fans will pay to see his games?
“More excitement, drama, suspense and, guess what, the unknown,” he said. “People are going to pay for the unknown. People want to see how men play against women and how the women play against men. It’s that unknown factor.”
Howard’s a salesman who takes every chance to push the novelty of his concept. That includes the league’s logo, which depicts a woman scoring over a man.
The league's website is here.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The lawsuit was filed in October 2013 in federal court and alleged that the district’s all-male wrestling program discriminated against girls on the basis of sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution. In January 2014, Flaster/Greenberg lawyer Abbe F. Fletman andWomen’s Law Project attorney Terry L. Fromson were successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction requiring the school district to allow seventh-grader Audriana Beattie to join the all-male wrestling program for the duration of the lawsuit.
The Court has now approved a consent decree entered into by the parties that will allow Ms. Beattie to remain on the previously all-male wrestling team and other young women who wrestle competitively may join the team.
The school district has also rescinded its policy that kept girls off boys’ teams and will not adopt any policy in the future that will unlawfully deny athletic opportunity on the basis of sex.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Erin Buzuvis (Western New England) sees potential good:
Given the current state of college athletics, there seems more potential benefit than risk for women in the types of reform that might ripple from the Northwestern case, said Erin Buzuvis, a law professor at Western New England University and a co-founder of the Title IX Blog.
“Division I athletic programs have been bringing in increasingly more money, and it hasn’t been the case that opportunities for women have been getting better,” Buzuvis said. “In fact, we’ve been seeing the reverse, a backslide.”
In her view, the equal treatment requirement of Title IX would compel colleges to provide the same collectively bargained benefits to female athletes as male athletes, from extended health insurance to salaries. “Nothing that happened” so far in the Northwestern case “changed Title IX in any way,” Buzuvis said.
Ellen Staurowsky (Drexel, sports management), sees some bad (and good):
If it holds that athletes are employees, Title IX, which refers to access to education, may not apply, said Ellen J. Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel and an expert on Title IX and college sports reform....
But an overhaul of athletics could stop the pitting of football players and men’s basketball players against female athletes, Staurowsky of Drexel said.
“The system is not committed to equity on either side,” she said. “It denies the rights of athletes who should be recognized as workers, and it has also violated Title IX with impunity. I think this window of opportunity, in terms of truth telling and saying what this enterprise actually is, opens the door to make gains on both fronts if we acknowledge that neither front has been well served.”
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Yay! The Akron Women's Basketball Zips, MAC champions, are headed to the NCAA March Madness tournament for the first time. (What is a zip, you ask? First a rubber shoe, now a (girl) kangaroo. "Fear the Roo."). During this time of basketball frenzy, its the perfect time to ask the woman question - what is going on with women coaches.
From Deborah Brake (Pitt), Discrimination Inward and Upward: Lessons on Law and Social Inequality from the Troubling Case of Women Coaches, 2 Indiana J. Law & Social Equality 1 (2013).
In the Title IX success story, women’s opportunities in coaching jobs have not kept pace with the striking gains made by female athletes. Women’s share of jobs coaching female athletes has declined substantially in the years since the law was enacted, moving from more than 90% to below 43% today. As a case study, the situation of women coaches contains important lessons about the ability of discrimination law to promote social equality. This article highlights one feature of bias against women coaches — gender bias by female athletes — as a counter-paradigm that presents a challenge to the dominant frame of discrimination law.
The predominant legal model views discrimination as a top-down, inter-group phenomenon. In discrimination law, the paradigmatic case is intentional bias directed by an in-group superior toward an out-group subordinate. (E.g., a male boss discriminates against a female subordinate.) Shifting either one of these dimensions to involve within-group bias or contra-power bias complicates the discrimination claim, resulting in new doctrinal demands. Shifting them both creates space for productive theorizing about the complexity of discrimination and the adequacy of the law’s response to it.
The case of bias against women coaches is an especially interesting one because it turns upside-down both of the typical trajectories of the paradigm. Research has shown a troubling preference by female athletes for male coaches. To the extent that the hiring process takes into account athlete preferences, this resistance to having a female coach can make it harder for women coaches to get hired; it can also make it harder for women coaches to succeed once hired. Similar within-group, upstream biases have been found in literature on women in leadership, with many women in subordinate roles expressing ambivalence about women bosses and leaders. Exploring within-group, upstream bias as a form of discrimination sheds light on important issues of animus, essentialism, intersectionality and agency at the heart of discrimination law. This Article uses the phenomenon of bias by female athletes against women coaches as a case study for rethinking the promise and limits of discrimination as a tool for social equality.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Seventh Circuit decided Hayden v. Greensburg Community Schools, ___F.3d___ (7th Cir. Feb. 24, 2014).
On behalf of their son, [parents] challenge a policy which requires boys playing interscholastic basketball at the public high school in Greensburg, Indiana, to keep their hair cut short. The Haydens make two principal arguments: (1) the hair-length policy arbitrarily intrudes upon their son's liberty interest in choosing his own hair length, and thus violates his right to substantive due process, and (2) because the policy applies only to boys and not girls wishing to play basketball, the policy constitutes sex discrimination. The district court rejected both claims and granted judgment to the Hayden ex rel. A.H. v. Greensburg Cmty. Sch. Corp., 2013 WL 1001947 (S.D.Ind. Mar. 13, 2013). We reverse in part. Because the hair-length policy on its face treats boys and girls differently, and because the record tells us nothing about any comparable grooming standards applied to girls playing basketball, the evidence entitles the Haydens to judgment on their sex discrimination claims.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
.....so spoke Magic Johnson, the greatest point guard in the history of the National Basketball Association, about his gay son, who has a boyfriend. No commentary; I just thought it was a cool story about a dad embracing his gay son.
.....thus runs a hypo posed by a column in Truth Wins Out, an LGBT website. The author, Wayne Besen, worries that Martin would have been propelled from being "not black enough" to being "too black."
I agree that this may have been possible. But who is to say? There is something morally gratifying about a bullied kid getting some payback against his tormentor, not in a sadistic way but in a way that is just even if that justness is procured through a strong shove or a headlock. So too much of manliness, frankly, doesn't rest on such crude dichotomies as Mr. Besen suggests: either get bullied or fight back. There are preemptive measures that boys (at least many boys) know about which can signal to the other party--without having to resort to violence--that they are not to be messed with.
None of this is to say, of course, that Jonathan Martin deserved any of the abuse or that the monstrous Incognito should not be punished.....
Monday, February 17, 2014
Michael Sam, the All-American from the University of Missouri, is the first openly gay football player. Some NFL teams have already supported his candidacy and it seems that the media is supporting him too.
On the other hand, as you probably know, the NFL doesn't seem to be a hospitable place for cultural differences, as suggested by the ordeals suffered by Jonathan Martin.
This conflict between the gentleman and the brute, which I've examined elsewhere, seems never ending.....
Friday, February 14, 2014
Gender change operations are legal in Iran according to a fatwa - or religious ruling - pronounced by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution. The law contrasts with the strict rules governing sexual morality under the country's Sharia legal code, which forbids homosexuality and pre-marital sex.
The article is about football (what Americans call soccer) but the news is still arresting, to me, anyway.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
In honor of the Olympics, Why We Love Watching Female Figure Skaters, but not Female Basketball Players. The story picks up with the Russian men’s ski jump coach Alexander Arefyev comment that he doesn’t like seeing women compete in the sport because they “have another purpose—to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home.” Researchers on gender disparity in sports found that:
found that these students code certain sports as masculine or feminine, and do so along the same lines that researchers did in 1965. They found that “sports that emphasized overt displays of aggression or strength were typed as masculine, and non-contact sports that are either traditionally dominated by women (volleyball) or emphasize aesthetics (gymnastics) were typed as feminine.” And as teenage girls develop differently from their male peers—and begin to confront gendered expectations for how they ought to use their bodies—“teenage girls drop out of sports at a rate that is six times higher than that of boys.”