Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Billie Jean King and Title IX

Over at the Huffington Post, Leanne Shear has written a nice tribute to Billie Jean King while also advocating for greater enforcement of Title IX--something King herself continues to do.
If you're a little tired, like some of us here at the Title IX Blog are, of steeling yourself against all the backlash and misinformation on Title IX, you should read Shear's well-written piece which includes quotes from her recent interview with BJK. She has also included a myriad of links to search through including popular media articles on Title IX and some sources on facts and stats.
I only had two itty bitty things to say about it when I was done.
The first has nothing to do with Sheer's writing, but with something BJK told her: "Sports are like a microcosm of society." To me, this implies that "society" is always acting upon sports; that the change is one way rather mutually constitutive.
And I am not sure if I believe BJK really believes this to be true either; especially when we consider her life's work and activism. She clearly works within the sports world and believes sports can change the lives of women. Her own Battle of the Sexes match certainly is evidence of sports influencing society. According to Johnette Howard in The Rivals King was always aware of the importance of the match and eventually Riggs (on his deathbed) saw the social impact of the highly-orchestrated event.
Second, Shear did well to note what few other articles fail to mention at all: prong two. Though she does not name it as such, Shear writes that schools have the option of not choosing proportionality to comply with Title IX but can "upgrad[e] women's sports from, for example, "club" level to varsity, or also [...] demonstrat[e] a willingness to improve opportunities for women."
My only wish is that she had noted that "compliance" with prong two is essentially an intermediary step. If a school continues to follow prong two, eventually it will satisfy prong one (proportionality) and possibly even prong three--though this is not a guarantee.
Overall it's a good read if you're feeling the Title IX blues.


Jennifer said...

The statement that "sports are a microcosm of society" is used extensively in the the sport sociology literature. Inherent in this statement is that changes occuring in sport influence society (i.e., Battle of the Sexes) and changes occuring in society influence sport (i.e., Title IX). I use this statement all the time teaching classes to help students understand that sport is an important domain from which we can learn.

kris said...

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I do indeed see (and have read the literature) that posits sports as a microcosm of society. I was trying to, not very articulately I admit, suggest that sport is more than just a microcosm of society and that, at times, the phrase seems to suggest a certain amount of stasis. I still see the possible reading of sport as microcosm as implying that power dyanmics in sport only change when society at-large changes. And I find this interpretation limiting.
Thanks for reading and commenting!