Monday, June 15, 2009

The not-so-far-reaching effects of equity in sports

Frequently overlooked when we make statements such as "girls have benefited from Title IX" or "the growth of high school girls in sports has been X-fold since the passage of Title IX" is the fact that "girls" is not a nice, neat category. "Girls" is actually quite complex. And as much as we support gender equity laws, we need to remember that relying solely on the category of gender to judge equity and opportunity is not sufficient.
Yesterday's NYT article on the sporting lives of urban girls, specifically NYC girls, is an important reminder of how class, race, and ethnicity affect access to opportunities.
The article does a great job explaining the realities faced by many middle and high school-age girls who are ethnic and racial minorities in the US. It tells some of their stories as well as those of administrators and coaches who try to balance the needs of their teams (the article focuses on basketball) with the needs of the student-athletes--and primarily the needs of players' families who often rely on these young girls for child care and other domestic duties.
And, of course, we also get the bigger picture in the form of statistics and various sociological studies.