Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Honoring Ernestine Bayer

On Sunday, a memorial flotilla in New Hampshire honored rowing pioneer Ernestine Bayer who died last month.

Bayer, who later became the first woman inducted to the rowing hall of fame, started organizing competitive rowing teams for women in the 1930s. Title IX, passed in 1972, deserves much of the credit for the popularity of women's rowing on college campuses. But Bayer--who had to get her husband's permission to row--was inspiring women to break out of their socially prescribed role by participating in sport, long before the quest for proportionality compliance motivated colleges to add women's rowing teams as a way to offset men's football.

Teams from MIT, BU, Northeastern, and Radcliffe prepare to dedicate boats in Bayer's honor at the Head of the Charles this weekend. This is fitting, as we who honor Title IX for creating opportunities for women to row, play, run, swim, skate should continually be reminded that Title IX is only the most recent history of a much longer struggle to open sports to women.

(photo of the memorial flotilla from Foster's Daily Democrat.)

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