Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy with what you've got?

Complaints about inequitable scheduling of practices and/or games are nothing new. Schools have made adjustments, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, to give girls' teams equitable access to prime practice and game times. Such was the case down in Maryland in Anne Arundel County where, about six years ago, they started rotating the schedules of girls' and boys' soccer, lacrosse, and basketball to provide one primetime (7pm) game start per week for everyone.

But now the county is thinking about going back to previous scheduling pattern: girls at 5 p.m., boys at 7 p.m. because of numerous complaints. And, according to the article, most of the complaints are coming from girls' basketball coaches. Why? Because when the girls' team gets the primetime slot they have to contend with a mass exodus of audience members who leave after the boys' game.

"If anyone has come to our gym to see a Tuesday basketball doubleheader, then you've seen 400 people leave before the beginning of the girls' game," said Broadneck athletic director Ken Kazmarek, a former boys basketball coach at the school who helped institute the current scheduling system. "It's absolutely embarrassing for the girls. I think they would prefer playing in front of a packed house during the third and fourth quarter instead of having an empty gym for the entire game."

The phrase "best of intentions" has been thrown around and we certainly see that; but what message does it send if the county reverts back to its prior scheduling? Did they, after instituting the changes work hard to promote the girls' teams? Is the mass exodus a reaction to the changes; a message from audience members that they liked the status quo and don't want change pushed upon them?

It looks near certain that the scheduling changes will go through with the new/old schedule back in the fall. But I don't think the "we tried it; we didn't like it" excuse necessarily protects the county from future Title IX complaints. And I don't think it sends a good message to anyone about gender equity.

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