Last week USA Today wrote about the growing popularity of flag football for girls in high schools, especially in Florida, where it is a state championship sport.
Flag football also has been introduced at the varsity level in Washington, D.C., and is growing as a club sport in parts of Texas.
More girls coming out to play sports — this is a good thing, no?
No, if you’re an official mouthpiece for a leading women’s organization. Neena Chaudry, senior counsel, National Women’s Law Center:
“You can add sports as recreational or intramural — it’s great to have activities to help girls be physically active. If you’re going to add a varsity sport, it is relevant if that sport is going to provide the same opportunities as the boys have. So, to then add flag football as opposed to a sport, like volleyball or soccer, that does allow girls to get college scholarships is not equitable.”
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, director of advocacy for the Women’s Sports Foundation, echoes Chaudry:
“The thing that makes sports valuable is having a goal and postponing the short-term. If you want to have fun, you don’t train for the Olympics. What purpose would anybody have to swim four hours a day if they didn’t have a long-term goal?”
Hold on now. I’ve never seen anywhere in my reading of Title IX a stipulation about high school sports being added to accommodate athletic scholarships at the college level. Just because flag football doesn’t translate doesn’t mean it should be nixed from consideration in high schools for Title IX purposes.
On the other hand, women’s sports activists have endorsed the addition of college sports for women — such as rugby and bowling — that have little to no interest or organization at the high school level, just to meet Title IX demands.
Both of these women are lawyers, and I’ve heard them and others like them say often that the law is meant simply to give females an opportunity to play. It says nothing at all about whether such activity is required to be a gateway to a college scholarship.
The reaction of these activists smacks of the fight over varsity cheerleading at Quinnipiac University. A federal judge ruled in 2010 that it wasn’t a sport for Title IX purposes, satisfying the urgings of women’s sports activists when the Connecticut school dropped its women’s volleyball program.
The latest crusade from the NWLC is to go after school districts that aren’t doing right by Title IX, and here are some school districts that are trying to address those disparities. We have two activities here, in cheerleading and flag football, that are generating some considerable interest from young females, and the activists are resisting this.
Is it because these sports are considered just a bit too traditionally feminine?