Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Title IX dads

In what is being called a love letter to Title IX, writer, editor and father Mark Schmitt penned his tribute to Title IX, his daughter, Little League and social change last week in a very nice column about the legislation in his magazine The American Prospect.
The people at Bitch magazine found Schmitt's piece compelling and blogged about it and Title IX more generally. Anna Clark included excerpts from the American Prospect piece in which we see Schmitt, an admitted sport outsider, appreciate the effects of the social change that occured in the 1970s: his daughter is now a catcher on her Little League team. This point of view--the outsider--is particularly interesting, and somewhat unique, in the discourse on girls' sports and the role of fathers. Clark cites some of this research as well: that fathers with sport-playing daughters can be vehicles for support of girls' sports. (A view I have certain issues with--but we'll save that for another time.)
What is interesting is that Schmitt identifies not as a Little League Dad but as a Title IX Dad. Title IX dads seem to understand the social change aspect of the legislation and see the broader issues. Sport dads who support Title IX are probably a little more narrow in their vision of the legislation. They see what it does for their individual daughters. We should not forget the father in Nevada who made Title IX claims when the high school athletic association attempted to move girls' soccer to its traditional season (fall) which would have put his own daughter in the awkward position of having to choose between soccer and volleyball. He was not a Title IX dad. [Not all sport dads are like this, of course.]
Clark gives us a shout-out to us and for that we are thankful. [She thinks we're fascinating--well the blog at least!] But we wouldn't be the responsible bloggers we strive to be if we didn't make one little correction to Clark's connection between Title IX and Little League. The Little League lawsuit was not a direct result of the passage of Title IX because Little League, Inc is not subject to Title IX. Certainly the passage and the lawsuit were part of the overall climate that engendered more support of girls' and women's access to sport in the 1970s.
And the women of NOW--who were integral in the lawsuit--were actually not the first to make the connection between Title IX and sports. Women's sports advocates saw the possibilities the legislation offered for increasing funding of and opportunities in women's sports in educational institutions almost immediately.