Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Women in Athletics

I read this morning about a case decided in California in favor of a former volleyball coach at USC at Fresno, who sued the school for sex discrimination in firing her. The courts awarded her $5.85 million dollars. Split reactions:

a) What a ridiculous award! Even if the damages are "classified as compensation for lost pay and emotional distress," it's still a stupid amount of money. I have little patience for unrealistic awards. How on earth can the university pay that and not compromise its financial solvency?

b) A victory for women! From the article, it's obvious that Fresno State has a track record of discriminating against female athletes; aside from this case, there are three others pending against the college for the same reasons: women who were dismissed in retaliation for pointing out the discrepancies between the treatments of male and female athletes.

Two more discrimination cases against Fresno State are set to go to trial soon. Diane Milutinovich, a former associate athletics director, sued the university in 2004 for firing her as director of the student union, a post to which she said she was transferred after complaining of unequal treatment for female athletes. Her trial is scheduled for September.

Stacy Johnson-Klein, a former women's basketball coach, sued Fresno State in 2005 after she was fired during her team's season (The Chronicle, March 25, 2005).

The university's current softball coach, Maggie Wright, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights accusing Fresno State of retaliating against her for advocating equal treatment of female athletes.

I know that recently, the Bush administration has been trying to push the view that Title IX has accomplished gender equity in sports, and needs to be taken off the books. This sort of case highlights just how silly it would be to take away Title IX. I think it might be okay to think about taking it back when we have as many female pro-athletes as males, and boys are no longer teased about "throwing like a girl."

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