There seems to have been a recent slew of Title IX cases filed recently charging that school districts are not living up to their legal obligations to assure equality in sports opportunities for boys and girls. If these charges are found to have merit, it is quite disappointing that we are still waging this battle.
Yet for the second consecutive year, I have been subjected to massive complaining by anti and pro Title Niners alike (as author I reserve the right to take a bit of poetic license) as they have spent considerable time and effort organizing sports tournaments and programs only to have to cancel the girls’ portion for lack of registration. And I can vouch that it is not for lack of marketing effort that these golden opportunities for girls are shutting down.
For example, you can understand just how frustrating it must be for a tournament revolving around a charitable cause to be chastised from year to year for catering to “boys only”. There are caustic allegations of discrimination, references to Title IX, and plain old banter designed to create pangs of guilt. So two years ago, the tournament caves in and adds the girls division. Honestly, everyone works hard to make it a success. The first year, only three girls teams register, none of which are in the same age bracket. They are forced to cancel with the hope that its second year will have the benefit of the prior year of marketing under its belt and thus draw a crowd. But no such luck. Once again, year two, the couple of girls teams that register are forced to play against the boys teams in the division with an unpleasant result. Can we blame the tournament for now saying it tried and returning to its focus on boys?
Analogous circumstances have unfortunately been experienced with regard to girls’ youth sports clinics and leagues. They try hard to build up, but fall down.
While I do have ideas on how to resolve and rebuild (left for another blog posting to come), the point of this blog is to encourage parents with young female athletes to do the best they can to strategize together to show support and produce numbers. Of course there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week. You can’t participate in everything or spread your athletes to thin. They need downtime and the freedom to pursue other creative endeavors. But you can work together within your communities – with other families, with park districts, private clubs, and charitable organizations – to consolidate and coordinate in such a way as to fulfill.
At this point you may be harboring rational skepticism with regard to this suggestion. These programs and events are all competing, vying for your bucks and your loyalty. I would suggest, however, that if these businesses pay attention to your needs and ideas, rather than diluting the field with so many different options, they might find they are filling up rather than ultimately displaying the “C” for cancelled. After all, the interest in girls sports is just starting to blossom. It has yet to come close to reaching its potential. And when it does, these sports programs and events will be rewarded for their patience, having earned the chance to grow with the demand.
Wouldn’t it be nice to put the kibosh on those currently advocating that Title IX is a waste because even when you do provide the sports opportunities, the low numbers communicate the message “thanks anyway?” Let’s help to foster strategic growth. It is in all of our best interest.
As always, I welcome your feedback for discussion.