There may be no crying in baseball, but the lack of athletic opportunities available to girls in secondary schools across the country is definitely something you should be upset about. Just yesterday, the National Women's Law Center filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit in Ollier v. Sweetwater, a case brought by high school girls challenging their school's failure to provide them with equal athletic opportunities and the retaliation they faced after lodging a complaint. The brief supports the district court's ruling that the school failed to meet any part of Title IX's three-part participation test and that it retaliated against the class of girls when it fired their coach among other actions. The school district appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit. Read more »
After four years and five wins in the courts, the female volleyball players who sued Quinnipiac University for trying to eliminate their team and replace it with competitive cheerleading have secured a settlement that will help the entire women’s sports program. The settlement, announced today, requires Quinnipiac University to, among other things:
retain the volleyball team and all other women’s teams (the University added women’s golf and rugby recently and will help rugby evolve to the same competitive level as other sports);
increase scholarships for various women’s teams;
spend at least $5 million improving women’s athletic facilities, including locker rooms;
spend about $450,000 annually improving women’s coaching salaries, increasing coaches and academic support staff, and providing more athletic training services; and
allocate $175,000 during each of the next three years to a fund for additional improvements for women’s sports.
This case was very important in terms of setting precedent and providing guidance to schools across the country on several issues. First, there was a lot of fuzzy math that the court said was inappropriate. For example, the school double- and triple-counted students who were listed as members of the women’s cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams, even though many of the women did not receive genuine participation opportunities on more than one of the teams. The law allows multi-sport athletes to be counted for each sport they play, but only if they are really playing. Read more »
I often regret not being involved in high school athletics. Granted, I was very busy with musical theatre. It’s kind of ironic that I could perform a strenuous swing dance routine while singing with no problem, but could barely run one mile for the Presidential Fitness Test each spring.
About a year ago, I decided to confront my lack of athletic ability head-on and take up running. I started out with couch to 5k, a 9-week training program for non-runners (that’s the couch part!) to learn to run 3.1 miles. After my first race, I was hooked, and I’m planning to run my first half-marathon this Saturday.
Long-distance running is no joke – I’ve had to reform my sleeping, nutrition, social habits, all in the name of having better runs. I’ve also become one of those runners who talks about fun physical ailments (blisters, anyone?) in casual conversation. Mostly, though, it’s made me more disciplined. At least half of the challenge of running a half-marathon is mentally pushing yourself through to the end. The combination of physical and mental challenges, along with the commitment necessary to maintain my training around an already-packed schedule, has given me an opportunity for enormous personal growth. Read more »
The District Court that first told Quinnipiac University it violated Title IX when it dropped the women’s volleyball team and claimed its cheer squad counted as a sport has once again told the university that it is not in compliance with the law. In an almost 100-page opinion issued yesterday, the Court instructed QU to continue to sponsor volleyball and said that QU needs to make more progress before the Court will let it out from under its watch. Maybe this time the University will finally get the message.
The latest decision comes after QU asked the court to lift the order instructing it to keep volleyball and devise a plan to provide equal opportunities for female students. QU claims that it has added golf and rugby for women and made changes to cheer that should make it count under Title IX; so they once again want to drop the volleyball team (they seem to have a volleyball vendetta). Read more »
The title of this post is the message we conveyed to the Department of Education in response to their request for public input regarding the collection of Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) data. If you’re not familiar with the EADA, check out our one-pager here that explains what the law requires of colleges and universities (for example, the numbers of men and women playing sports and expenses allocated to each team). The Department helpfully puts all of this info on a website where anyone can look up any institution and print out a few pages with all the information that schools are required to disclose. Read more »
National Girls and Women’s Sports Day is a day to celebrate all the successes that girls and women have had so far, but it’s also a day to think about the obstacles we face. One of those is the lack of data surrounding girls in high school athletics – so I sat down with our own Title IX expert, Neena Chaudry, and our data whiz, Kate Gallagher Robbins, to get a better understanding about what we’re missing.
Becka: When I e-mailed Kate to talk about sitting together to chat, she joked, “I could do the interview right now – in short, we need more data!” What is the number one aspect you each wish you had more data on?
Neena: I have a list! But the number one thing I wish we had was data for each individual school. Only some schools have data available from the U.S. Department of Education, but many don’t. I’d love to get participation rates broken down by sub= groups – particularly to see the numbers of girls of color on high school teams.
Kate: I would really love to dive even deeper and get some individual-level data. The school has the numbers – how many girls who are playing sports are also taking AP Classes, et cetera. More detail would help us determine some interesting correlations and where the gaps are.
Neena: Could we get that? Aren’t there privacy concerns?
Kate: There’s a way to do it while respecting privacy – it would be a different data set. Information about the individual, but without any specifics – for example, Becka would be student number 379 in this region of the country, and I would know that she played lacrosse and took AP Literature, but if I met Becka, I would have no idea she was student number 379.
Becka: Gotcha – so a deep level of anonymous detail.
When I was 8 years old and Title IX was 24, I told my parents that I wanted to play softball in college. From that point on, I was unshakeable in my pursuit. I played on school teams, little league teams, all-star teams, and travel teams. I went to camps, clinics, practiced in my garage, and soaked up the great sports movies of my childhood—Sandlot, Rudy, the Mighty Ducks—all the ones where the heroes win in the end, as heroes should. I couldn’t get enough of it.
It doesn’t surprise me to hear that high school athletes are far less likely to participate in drugs or sexually risky behavior and that they typically have higher grades. My drive to succeed and become better was simply more intriguing than any high school scandal and I had coaches who insisted on high academic standards. I worked hard and was lucky enough that my dream came true: I was recruited all over the country to play the sport I loved.
On my first day of NCAA practice, my coach called us over to give what I assumed would be a welcome speech. He said, “You need to recognize that everyone in this league is at least as good as you. Many are better. So we need to work hard enough to overcome that.” Read more »
This guest-post was written by Dominique Dawes and is cross-posted from on Fitness.gov.
Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day! Each year, this observance provides us with a tremendous opportunity to help get more girls in the game, and make a significant investment in the future of our Nation. I am proud to serve as co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and sound the alarm about the importance of ensuring equitable physical activity opportunities for all Americans.
Throughout my life, I have been transformed and inspired by sports. Since the first time I tumbled into a gymnasium at six years old to becoming an Olympic gold medalist, I was motivated and excited by the opportunities presented to me as an athlete and a coach. I owe my participation and success in gymnastics (and so much more) to the passage of Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which has transformed the lives of millions of girls by granting them greater access to participate in sports.
One amazing example of making this investment is in Daly City, California with the Benjamin Franklin Middle School girls’ basketball team. Their coach is 28-year-old Sarah Egan, who in addition to teaching social studies also teaches how to dribble, make layups, and block. The school has mostly low-income students from immigrant families, and Sarah faces significant challenges with her athletes. Read more »
University of Maryland basketball players meeting with my daughter’s Brownie troop
Since I’m not busy enough in my day job here at the National Women’s Law Center, I volunteered to plan something for my 9-year old daughter’s Brownie troop to do in celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. How could I not, given all the work that I do to ensure that Title IX is enforced and girls get equal educational opportunities, including the opportunity to play sports? The temptation was irresistible (I am a sucker for this stuff), and the troop leader was cool with it, so the project was mine.
Last year for NGWSD the girls got a visit from a teenage girl who plays lacrosse for one of our local high schools. She rocked; in fact, she has since gotten a scholarship to play lacrosse in college! I spent some time telling the girls about Title IX, and they were interested, but I knew they were ready for more this year. Not knowing what to do, I “cold” emailed someone in the U of MD athletics department to see if a female college athlete would be willing to come meet with our troop.
I got much more than I bargained for! The athletic department got right back to me, and planned a terrific event for last Sunday, for our troop and some other community groups. Read more »
This guest-post was written by Sarah Egan and featured on Fitness.gov.
Come to the blacktop at my middle school and hang out for a couple of hours. You'll get a sense of what 12-to-14-year olds like and how they act. For them this is the center of the world.
When I started teaching in 2009, I watched life unfold on the asphalt. During recess and before and after school, the boys took center stage on all four basketball courts — dribbling, pivoting, guarding, pushing, blocking, faking, jumping, dunking, high fiving and taunting each other. They were agile and fast. The girls talked to each other and watched the boys from the perimeter of the tarmac. My instinct had always been to jump right into the action! Why weren't these girls playing on the blacktop? Why didn't they join the boys or take control of a court themselves?
I teach U.S. and world history to 200 7th & 8th graders in Daly City, California, just south of San Francisco. It's a low-income school and close to 80 percent of the students are new immigrants — from Central and South America, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries. It's tough coming up with a lesson that connects to such a diverse audience. Recently I compared the Declaration of Independence to a break-up letter between a girlfriend and boyfriend. The colonialists listed all the reasons for breaking up with the King of England. This approach totally worked and the kids were hooked!
Three months into the job, the athletic director asked if I'd coach one of the girls' basketball teams — in addition to teaching social studies. Frankly, I was overwhelmed. I hadn't anticipated how difficult teaching would be — especially at a school where kids show up in the morning stressed out. Read more »