Sports Journalism class blog
November 18, 2012
By Kayla Faria
The National Anthem signals the start of every sporting contest, while members of the armed forces are prominently featured during introductions. Nationalism infiltrates all levels of athletic competition – sometimes in subtle ways we barely recognize.
So it should come to no surprise that the genocide in this country’s history is so intimately associated with American football.
Yes, I’m talking about Thanksgiving – that holiday where we sit around the table with family and friends and say that we’re thankful it wasn’t us who faced the imperialist forces headed by Christopher Columbus.
Okay, well most of say that we’re thankful for the people in our lives, the opportunities we have, our health, etc., but anyhow you get the picture.
It’s hard to imagine a traditional Thanksgiving without football. As Lucy told Charlie Brown, “one of the greatest traditions we have is the Thanksgiving day football game and the biggest most important tradition of all is the kicking off of the football.” In nearly all media representations of Thanksgiving, members of the family are seen watching the football game.
Football is practically as central to Thanksgiving as the Macy’s parade and turkey.
Whether you take the trip to watch your high school alma mater line up against their archrivals or notice the NFL games playing in the background whilst in a turkey coma, football is in your consciousness on turkey day.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself sitting through the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboy games, while tearing through the apple pie before everyone realizes how orgasmic it is. It’s a good thing that pie is so good, because those games are truthfully sometimes painful to watch.
Historically a struggling franchise, the Lions initially convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game as a desperate marketing trick to get people excited about the team in 1934. The Dallas Cowboys began playing on the holiday in 1966 when the team was struggling under head coach Tom Landry. And an American tradition was born – the blue and silver teams have played pigskin on turkey day nearly every Thanksgiving since then.
Nevertheless, at the risk of sounding like Taylor Swift, I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER consider the Cowboys to be America’s Team. Dear City of Dallas, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.
I personally wished the Redskins played every single Thanksgiving just to emphasize the sheer ridiculousness of the occasion. Make no mistake; I like turkey and pie just as much as the next person, but Thanksgiving is a tradition embedded in colonialism and social injustice.
Having a team called the Redskins playing in our nation’s capitol, while we attempt to justify our celebration of the holiday just seems fitting. It would be a way of taking the politics out from the shadows and bringing it center stage, pointing out the contradiction and hypocrisy of it all.
It’s pathetic that the racial stereotypes of Native Americans are prominently featured as logos of sports teams. If it were any other racial or ethnic stereotype, the logos of Indians, Redskins and Braves would be abolished in a heartbeat, yet these derogatory caricatures and team names continue to permeate throughout sports.
My prediction is that one day we will look back at these images and how long they have persisted in American sporting culture and equate it as parallel to the mammy and coon figures of centuries past.
We should be embarrassed by these images in the same way that we should be embarrassed by the colonialism that defines our country’s history.
As Terrapins (a term whose origin is Algonquian), we should advocate for the removal of these caricatures and be thankful that our university does not perpetuate an age-old stereotype simply because of some namesake tradition.
There are a lot of things I am thankful for, but a narrative that heralds imperialism and simultaneously renders the real story of Native Americans invisible is not one of them and neither is the degrading caricatures of our ancestors prevalent in American sports culture.
Somewhere else, someone else
Sports Journalism class blog
November 16, 2012
By Kayla Faria
Lynn Povich and 45 of her newsroom colleagues filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek that helped open the doors for women journalists at a time when they were told to “go somewhere else” if they wanted to be writers.
It is amazing to see how far we have come, but if we were to confuse progress for full equity, we would be sorely mistaken.
Even though women outnumber men as college graduates, the top positions in business, law and politics are relatively male-dominated. While more women seem to be pursuing journalism than men, I can’t help but notice that the sports section is not exactly indicative of such changes.
While it is true that some women do not pursue sports journalism because of a lack of interest in sports, framing the issue at the individual level discounts the structural persistence of sexism.
Mentorship is one of the largest factors for promotions, but if women are not being mentored in the same way that men are (for a variety of reasons), then it stands to reason that women will have less of an opportunity to be promoted in the field.
The gender wage gap remains pervasive at all occupational levels in our society. On average, a woman earns 75 cents to the male dollar – a statistic prevalent in nearly every discussion of fair pay.
However, an intersectional approach allows us to further examine inequalities inemployment. A black woman earns 68 cents to the male dollar, and Latinas earn 10 cents less than that.
If I have any critiques of Povich’s comments on Monday, it is that she seemed to dismiss her privilege in telling the story of how she successfully combated oppression in the workplace.
Lynn Povich is a white woman of upper-middle class status who followed her father, the legendary Shirley Povich, into the profession.
I’m not claiming that she isn’t a highly qualified, supremely talented, hard-working and well-gifted writer, but her socio-political position – having wealth and parental connections in the field at her disposal – clearly must have facilitated her career endeavors and empowered her to sign on to the suit that would create monumental change.
“Intersecting forms of domination produce both oppression and opportunity,” University of Maryland Arts and Humanities Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill writes.
Using intersectionality as a conceptual framework is an important part of telling any story, particularly for journalists in reporting and writing, because it examines multiple dimensions of identity simultaneously and brings a more holistic view to provide the full picture.
“Words have the power to change the status quo,” writes Washington Post sports writer Jane Leavy.
By looking at her (and all of the women who sued Newsweek) as complete persons, both disempowered and privilege, we are better able to make changes going forward in creating better and more diverse newsrooms.
Building more diverse newsrooms starts in the academy. I have found that the Philip Merrill College of Journalism is really challenging and really rewarding, but if there’s one thing lacking, it is diversity.
Maybe it’s because hegemony isn’t something that is hard to notice after all of my women’s studies courses, but I can’t help but recognize some practical ways in which journalism as a course of study has been exclusionary.
I would like to challenge any journalism major to complete the infamous 320 class that requires 10 published clips and secure an internship without their own vehicle, while working at a paid job. This is one simple way that journalism discourages poor or working class women to pursue the craft.
I was slightly offended that Povich dismissed a student’s concern about her aspirations to become an anchor as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab by responding that she would be at an advantage because newsrooms are looking to diversify.
In an ideal world, there would be no cause for concern, but unfortunately that just isn’t the world we live in.
After all, how many Muslim woman anchors can you name?
I’m not trying to say that being a Muslim woman is some sort of disadvantage or handicap, but it is remiss of anyone to not acknowledge how public perception of a person’s background influences his or her ability to be promoted in any field. While gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion do not define us, these dimensions help shape who we are.
If we deny that there is currently or may continue to be a lack of Muslim women anchors in the near future; we are minimizing the real inequities in employment opportunities for Muslim women and all women. And we are also implicitly saying that the reason why Muslim women have not become anchors is that they do not want to or have not tried to (individual-level suppositions that are patently false).
Analyzing power is critical in creating social change and studying historical movements, but it would be wrong to assume that the only privilege is male privilege or patriarchy.
Neglecting Povich’s privilege is no different than neglecting the privilege of the white men at Newsweek in that it reinforces the status quo and a white middle-upper class dominant historical narrative that discounts the stories of women of color and working class women.
“Making more visible the ways in which relations of power intersect with oppression creates the possibility for more accountability for relations of dominance and privilege,” DePaul University associate professor Ann Russo writes in the epiolgue of The Intersectional Approach.
We cannot take for granted that the black women in the Newsweek newsroom did not join the effort to sue their employer.
“Relationships between tokens and the majority depend on understanding the power relationships between these groups and hence the status and power differentials between them,” writes Georgia State University sociology professor Adia Harveywingfield.
To me, it felt like it was assumed that the black women at Newsweek would not want to do so because they were more “concerned with civil rights” or racial issues.
Studying black women in U.S. history and black feminist thought, I have learned about the many women who combatted racial and gender oppression simultaneously, despite having to (in many cases) prove that they were, in fact, black and women.
It is because of what I have learned that I must refute the idea that feminism is a white women’s movement and Povich’s claims concerning a lack of terminology for black women working to end racial and gender oppression.
“Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women,” writes Barbara Smith, whose essays have appeared in the New York Times, Black Scholar, Ms. Magazine, Gay Community News and The Nation. “Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.”
If feminism is about deconstructing hierarchy, which I believe it is, then having people choose or assuming that people will choose race over gender or vice versa is contradictory to the goals of feminism. It is this type of hierarchical thinking that puts society back 50 years.
Similarly, rationalizing the minimal and inferior coverage of women’s sports because of ratings or because “people don’t want to watch women’s sports” also undoes the gains that have been made.
Sports editor Dave Zirin called this a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” when he said, “If I only serve you Coke and Pepsi your entire life, and then try to give you orange juice, you’re going to reject it.”
As journalists, we must take some accountability for shaping what it is the public wants to see, read and hear about because to do otherwise is to neglect our journalistic ethics.
Unlike some of my fellow peers who expressed reservations about claiming the title of feminist as a political term because of a claim to objectivity or duty of journalistic ethics, I have absolutely no such problem. Within the feminist movement, people align all over the spectrum of political ideologies, so saying that I am feminist does not necessarily mean that I have particular political views.
I didn’t vote because I believe that I should not enter a political conversation I intend on covering, but I believe that being a feminist has made me a better journalist in using critical thinking skills and questioning everything – including the ways in which I cover and construct a story.
Lynn Povich said that being a feminist and journalist is not mutually exclusive because feminism (at its core) is about equality. I couldn’t agree more.
If believing in equal opportunity is controversial or polarizing or somehow a concept that cannot be embraced by journalists, then I find little use in journalism as a means to create change, which is something I just cannot accept. If I did accept the idea, I would have stuck it out with Shakespeare and majored in English, so I could do something that I believe in – I would have gone somewhere else to be a writer.
I am forever grateful that Lynn Povich and others at Newsweek did not go somewhere else 50 years ago.
College football, crab cakes
Sports Journalism class blog
November 10, 2012
By Kayla Faria
I didn’t vote. I’m not a college football fan. And I don’t like crab cakes.
I know that “crab cakes and football [are] what Maryland does,” but I am neither anti-American nor anti-Maryland. I swear.
I’m just not a college football fan. Don’t get it twisted though, I love football.
I still remember ecstatically jumping up and down on the couch when the Patriots upset the Rams in the Super Bowl. When I was younger, I used to pretend I was Drew Bledsoe or Troy Brown, while playing “highlights” with my brother in the backyard. He was Terry Glenn, in case you were wondering.
I wish I had more time to follow the Patriots like I used to, but even if I had all the time in the world; I probably wouldn’t keep up with the University of Maryland football team.
That is not to say that the team isn’t exciting to watch, although the first half of Saturday’s game was borderline pathetic, but college football just isn’t something I grew up watching.
I grew up in southeastern New England near schools like Providence College, Roger Williams, the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University – the kinds of schools for the religious, artsy or genius brains.
Fall River, Mass. and Riverside, R.I. were a far cry away from the lure of the ACC where fans seem to be indoctrinated in college football. And my parents didn’t graduate from college, so I never played the tag-along-with-the-alumni role that leads many to the college football game.
No doubt my upbringing has left me disinterested in the hoopla surrounding college football in much the same way that after growing up on New England clam cakes, Maryland crab cakes just don’t do it for me.
As a first-generation-born American, who grew up in Azorean-American enclaves, the culture of Portuguese soccer was always around me. It is perhaps the reason why I am so drawn to the Euro and the World Cup, but college football just isn’t my thing. Another reason might be what Anthony Lane of The New Yorker refers to as the “Olympic ideal.”
“It means [losing] yourself, for a couple of weeks, from the bonds of your immediate loyalties and tastes. It means watching live sports…played by countries you’ve never been to, at three o’clock in the morning – not just watching them,” Lane writes.
While my memories of following college football are practically non-existent, I can still remember getting up around 4 a.m. to watch Brazil take on Germany in the Finals.
I remember seeing Brandi Chastain’s celebration on the cover of the newspaper and wearing the oversized No. 9 Mia Hamm jersey every chance I could get thereafter.
I will never forget the day my large extended family brought out something like a 10-inch TV at an outdoor family party, so we could all huddle around it and cheer on Portugal as the team faced the Netherlands in what turned out to be a bloodbath. I have honestly never been in a better atmosphere to watch sports on TV.
I can even remember the summer I spent selling books door-to-door, and missed the 2010 World Cup. I would hear families watching the game, then ask them about it, and my heart would just drop.
Lane writes that the Olympic ideal (international athletic competition) means “losing your heart,” but, for me, it has meant finding it.
Basically, the World Cup completes me in a way that college football could never do.
I feel emotionally connected to the Pats because I grew up with them, but any connection to the University of Maryland football team would feel as superficial as “you had me at hello.”
I have the privilege of attending this university, but I don’t feel connected to its football team.
Given the empty seats in the student section, I’m probably not the only one who feels emotionally empty watching college football.
On Frank Deford’s Over Time
Sports Journalism class assignment
October 30, 2012
By Kayla Faria
In showing a glimpse into Frank Deford’s life as one of America’s most accomplished sports writers, “Over Time” forces aspiring journalists to consider what legacy they strive to create for themselves.
Known as a “long-form writer,” Deford wrote Sports Illustrated profiles with thousands of eloquent words, but “Over Time” doesn’t mince words in criticizing colleagues and fellow journalists.
Deford blasts Bernard Darwin as “the most supercilious snob,” suggesting that the Times golf journalist lacked knowledge of the sport. He calls Trib sports editor Stanley Woodward an “independent cuss,” Times columnist Arthur Daley a “pedestrian columnist” and Tip Top Weekly journalist Gilbert Patten a “hack writer.” The Princeton alumnus with an affinity for purple even slams ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk for his on-air appearance.
Distinguishing types of editors into two categories: having a “natural curiosity for almost anything he doesn’t know” or wanting to “play only with his own toys, run stories about subjects he already knows well and loves,” Deford places Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who chose not to renew Deford’s contract with the magazine, in the latter classification.
“The rejection did sort of intrigue me. It proved to me, though, that if, like Graydon, you really, really, really are interested in just a few things, and you concentrate on them, you can put out a good magazine – assuming there are enough people who want to read about what you care about,” Deford writes.
Although flippant and snarky at times, the 46-chapter novel of mini essays continues to be engaging because of its honesty. While Deford’s persistence to quote himself at the start of chapters makes the novel appear self-involved, he is at his best when recounting intimate conversations with some of the greatest athletes to compete.
“My Man,” a chapter in which Deford writes about missing the opportunity for an HBO interview with NBA superstar Wilt Chamberlain is particularly endearing because it offers a look at Chamberlain that goes beyond his stature as a towering basketball player who once scored 100 points in a single game.
It reflects Deford’s values as a sports journalist in “revealing human nature,” rather than simply “predicting games.” A reader is shown insight into how Chamberlain felt “mocked and humiliated by his claim about [having sex with] twenty thousand women” and how he perhaps missed out on the chance to make things right as he died before the arrangement of Deford’s HBO interview.
“He (Chamberlain) got my answering machine, and – my fault – I didn’t get back to him right away, and then, of course, he died, only age sixty-three,” Deford writes. “All the amazing numbers that he did put up, those meant so much to him, but the idiotic twenty thousand is the one that still lives on after him.”
Despite cluttered sentence structure, Deford sends a chill down the spine of readers, who will find themselves considering their own legacy.
The Hall of Fame sports writer and six-time National Sportswriter of the Year may be more interested in telling stories, but his words can serve to caution sports writers against a growing dependence on “obvious and self-serving” or “insipid” quotes from athletes, “wishy-washy neutralism,” and a lack of genuine curiosity to learn about different subjects.
Deford praises the work and crafts of “scribe” Grantland Rice, Sports Illustrated writer Bill Nack, Joe Palmer, and Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith – legendary giants in the industry.
Considered the “original multi-platform sports journalist,” according to Washington Post sports writer Dave Sheinin, Deford is pessimistic about the direction of the industry he spent a lifetime consumed in.
“Journalism, as we know it, began with the printing press. It ended with the Internet,” writes Deford, who also contributes on NPR’s Morning Edition. “Sports today isn’t nearly as interesting as it was a generation or two ago.”
“I fear all you’d know [50 years from now will] be blogs and/or statistics – the pole-dancing of sports journalism,” writes Deford, according to The Washington Post.
Deford, a correspondent for HBO’s RealSports with Bryant Gumbel, perhaps equally strips the allure of intercollegiate athletics.
“Everyone genially accepts that a considerable portion of popular American sport- college football and men’s basketball – is an outright fraud,” he writes.
Although many in the American journalism community today accept the need to report objectively, Deford writes that “sports journalism is about being a fan.”
Deford’s antiquated opinions on women in sports journalism and women’s sports rely on age-old generalizations about the differences between what men and women want to read about or watch as fans (e.g. women don’t possess the “sports-watching gene” that men do).
While Deford writes that “women’s team sport have never been as popular as women’s individual sports,” he spends a considerable amount of space in the same chapter on conscious–raising discussing the famous singles tennis player Billie Jean King.
Contradictions in Deford’s writing about women parallel his critique on “specialized clichés of the sports pages” as he does not entirely avoid them, according to the New York Times review of the book.
Still, the honest tone in “Over Time” and insight into the person inside the jersey (an intentional cliché) is something aspiring sports journalists can look to emulate as the field continues to change as it has throughout Deford’s career over time.
Things I don’t understand
Sports Journalism class blog
October 27, 2012
By Kayla Faria
“Fine, you want me to take your test? I’ll take your test.”
In the spirit of my preparation for standardized testing, I’m channeling Jim Craig in Miracle.
“I’ll tell you what I don’t understand,” Craig said.
In part because of my apparent inability to read passages littered with talk of rocks, minerals, or insect pollination, I have accepted that there are things in this world I might never understand.
I’ll never understand how people can say that racism doesn’t exist anymore when we have a team called the Redskins in our nation’s capital.
I’ll never understand why parents say “we won” or “we lost” after their KID’s youth team plays. I’m not speaking for all their children, but I have lost so much respect for parents over the years because of this. I appreciate you taking an interest in your kid’s life, supporting his or her participation in sports, but let’s get real, YOU DIDN’T PLAY. It’s insulting to the players.
I’ll never understand why a politician says condescendingly that, because a person is an athlete, he or she shouldn’t express his or her political views. Maryland Delegate Emmitt C. Burns Jr. (D), I’m calling you out for perpetuating this sort of ridiculousness, and then trying to retract your statement.
Let’s assume that maybe Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo isn’t qualified to speak. By this logic, many of our politicians who only hold Bachelor’s degrees(including Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan) are vastly under-qualified to be making legislative decisions for their constituency. Still, whether or not Ayanbadejo is qualified or not to speak to these issues is irrelevant.
Free speech is free speech. Last time I checked, this isn’t Orwell’s 1984. It’s not free speech for everyone except athletes or free speech for the qualified or privileged.
I may disagree with Tim Tebow when he decides to spit his right-wing rhetoric on reproductive rights, but I support his right to speak and commend him for engaging in politics. When he uses his platform to bring attention to an issue, it begins a conversation.
Getting more people to talk about the issue builds awareness and expands the possibilities for new solutions. Besides, if a view is out there, the chance of people pointing out ridiculous logic within certain political arguments is increased.
For a supposedly qualified politician, it appears Mr. Burns is deficient in such a simple political strategy.
Unlike Burns, the NCAA knows how to navigate difficult issues.
I can’t understand how the NCAA receives a governmental tax exemption. Categorized as a charitable organization, the NCAA has accumulated more than $500 million in net assets, according to USA Today, but gets to pass the buck when it comes to paying taxes. Maybe they have binders too…
In a time when it seems as though so much of the country is struggling to make ends meet, the NCAA is reportedly building up wealth to pay for lawsuits filed in 2009 in which basketball and football players are seeking damages for appropriation – the illegal use of their images, names and likenesses.
It seems the NCAA is taking a page out of the Mac Miller – Donald Trumpplaybook. “We gon’ take over the world. Why these haters gettin’ mad?”
All I have to say about this is “hash-tag overruled.”
The NCAA has become larger than life and, in a sense, above the law. Don’t believe me? Ask a random person what NCAA stands for. Much like the SAT, the NCAA lives on in acronym. S-A-T stands for S-A-T. The “N-C-double-A” or “N-C-2A” is the NCAA. The National Collegiate Athletic Association exists in some alternate universe along with Scholastic Aptitude Test. No doubt the NCAA argument about amateurism also only makes sense in this different world.
But what do I know? I’m just trying to get a score that proves I know how to read about rocks and bees.
Violence inside and outside the lines
Sports journalism class blog
October 20, 2012
By Kayla Faria
My brother might still be disappointed that my mom wouldn’t let him play football. She didn’t want him to get hurt, but she also didn’t want him to hurt other people. Playing catch in the backyard was fine, but pee-wee tackle football was out of the question, no matter how much she kept hearing from everyone “forget about soccer, sign that boy up for football.”
I’m sure if my mother sat in for the talk with Ray Schoenke, all of her fears and apprehension about football would have been validated.
“I’m telling you, it’s violence,” said Schoenke, who played professional football for more than a decade.
Nobody wants to say that because of the standpoint of the community, he said.
It forced me to recall the words of Col. Nathan Jessup. “You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall.”
Many of us crave watching a violent contact sport, calling for rules that don’t favor offenses, but as soon as the link between violence on the field and violence in the community is made, we don’t want to talk about it. We dismiss a systemic issue as an individual thing because not everyone who plays football beats their wife. On some level, it is the same manner with which we dismiss the notion that American soldiers commit murder.
If we admitted that allowing kids to play football socializes violent behavior or allows“some sort of culture of violence [to] take them over,” as the memorable opening of High Fidelity phrases the concept, it would mean taking some responsibility for athletes who commit sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
While no clear empirical evidence of a relationship between participation in professional sports and violence against women exists, a relationship between participation in college athletics and dating aggression or sexual coercion has been established.
According to an article published in Violence Against Women, studies have shown that NCAA Division I athletes are overrepresented among students reported to university judicial affairs boards for sexual assault, male athletes are greatly overrepresented among students reported to university judicial affairs boards for nonsexual assaults, college athletes (particularly in football and basketball) engaged in more sexual aggression and gang rape, and participation in team sports has been linked with the acceptance of rape myths – a variable often related to sexual aggression.
Schoenke was displeased with coverage of him that claimed he liked to hurt people, but the idea of sports as a channel for learned violence is something that should be addressed.
Lombardi banged Schoenke’s chest and screamed at him using “fear as a means of motivating.” It says something that we consider Lombardi the best coach of all time when his tactics were centered on exerting power to make players fear him and getting physical with Packers players.
However, to use Lombardi as an example is reductionistic because it articulates the idea of “that was then, this is now,” despite the problem’s continual persistence today.
From what I have learned about domestic violence, a large part of the problem is the perpetuation of the ridiculous notion of what it means to be a man. Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy illustrated how manhood is often associated with playing football as he talked about having to “challenge their manhood.”
In this sense, it is no wonder why Schoenke threw his playbook at Lombardi. I’m not saying it’s on the same level as Jim Brown, Lawrence Phillips, or Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, but such examples demonstrate how violence is learned as a response and not bred into DNA.
So am I saying get rid of football? Nope. I’ve been a New England Patriots fan ever since I put on the royal blue Drew Bledsoe jersey and decorated the apartment with a string of Flying Elvis logos for the 1997 Super Bowl.
I’m saying that we need to rethink our notions of what constitutes masculinity because what we think of “what it means to be a man” is hurting men and women. Rethinking the notion starts with recognizing that we become complicit when we dismiss the countless cases of athletes as violent perpetrators. Using sports as an important teaching tool, we can start with building awareness of the serious issues surrounding sexual assault and intimate partner violence, showing coaches how to motivate without fear and violence and teaching athletes how to deal with aggression in appropriate ways on and off the field.
Then maybe the next time, somebody says “sign that boy up for football,” another mom just might see all of the positive lessons that football has to offer, instead of worrying about people getting hurt.
Sports are what we make of them.
On Cardale Jones
Sports Journalism class blog
October 14, 2012
By Kayla Faria
Although most people equate the landmark legislation with sports, Title IX is about more than that. The fortieth anniversary of Title IX reminds us that athletics can be a vehicle for education and a way to a better life. Sports scholarships give athletically gifted individuals an opportunity to get a degree, but what if – and I suppose I never REALLY considered this – that’s not what they want.
Earlier this month, Ohio State’s third string freshman quarterback Cardale Jones tweeted, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”
I’ll be honest. My initial reaction is a judgmental one. Because I have often joked that some people major in football, I’m questioning his intelligence and maturity and thinking, “Wow, is this kid for real?”
It forces me to recall the words of Knight Commission co-chairman William E. “Brit” Kirwan, who rejected the title of student-athlete as it is applies to the collegiate Division I level.
“These aren’t students first. These are athletes first,” he said during the Penn State panel at Knight Hall. “Maybe they have some time, in some instances to be students, sort of on the side.”
Then I read Dave Zirin’s take on the story, namely that Jones was being honest and telling it like it is.
“It’s that the players are given nothing but the opportunity for an education they often have neither the time nor desire to pursue,” Zirin writes. “We are corrupting these young people by demanding that they become complicit in a sham. We are telling them to be grateful for the opportunity to be party to their own exploitation.”
Zirin’s point is valid and I can understand Kirwan’s emphasis on how the structure of Division I collegiate athletics lends itself to such a mentality. Jones is entitled to his own opinion with the protection of the First Amendment that we, as journalists, are so profoundly infatuated with. As Justice Harlan’s decision in Cohen v. Californiastated, “verbal cacophony” is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
Mr. Cardale Jones may be well within his constitutional rights, but I don’t have toagree with him. At the risk of sounding like Adrienne Rich meets Letters to Cleo, some part of me wants him to want to claim his education.
Maybe that comes from being raised by immigrants who sacrificed everything to give me the best education that they could. Maybe it is selfish of me to expect athletes to be appreciative of an opportunity they may have never asked for. Maybe I am just jealous, a bitter former athlete who was too small and lacked the talent to play at the Division I level. Maybe I want to believe so powerfully in the capacity of sport to foster social change in education and employment that it has clouded my vision.
I’m not sure, but I do know that my time as a journalist is better spent analyzing the structures that cause an athlete to make such a statement, rather than judging the individual, debating the merits of a social media comment by an 18-year-old college freshman, or dismissing his words under the basis that the source is “Boobie’s backup’s backup.”
I learned a long time ago that you can’t make a person want something, but you can make a person not want something. Just as you can’t make an athlete dedicate him or herself to a sport, you can’t make a person care about his or her education, even if it hurts you on some level that the state of collegiate athletics is what it is, partly discouraging the academic pursuit of a real education that allows a student to question the system he or she is subscribed in.
Sasho Cirovski, Karl Marx
Sports Journalism class blog
September 29, 2012
By Kayla Faria
Daniel Gallen’s profile on Sasho Cirovski in The Diamondback is a refreshing look at the person behind the coach, but its angle feels a little too much like it’s posturing the narrative out of “Goal! The Dream Begins.”
His line about “the boy who grew up with nothing [and] now has everything” is sentimental, but cliché and slightly over-the-top for my taste.
As a borderline idealist, I must admit that I am moved by this profound sense of opportunity in upward social mobility and the romance of the American dream. It has the advantage of being an ideal that everyone can identify with on different levels.
For this reason, it is no wonder that the notion of the American dream, much like the middle class, is so deeply entrenched in the rhetoric of political movements.
Gallen’s piece may not be the Communist Manifesto, but it also is not free of political sentiment as it references socio-economic class.
“I think our program is known to have sort of a white-collar talent with a blue-collar work ethic,” Cirovski said.
A“blue-collar work ethic” appears to imply that a person who is working in a lower class occupation requires a greater work ethic as many low-income jobs are associated with manual labor.
By conversely using the phrase “white-collar talent,” Cirovski probably meant that a high-wage earner of the upper class, holding a more sophisticated occupation, is equipped with more talent given that his or her job requires a more complex skillset.
Nevertheless, the comment eludes to a soccer hierarchy that exists in the United States.
Players with big-time talent are awarded scholarships, while less talented players must find a different way to pay for college. These ramifications seem fair in high-level competition, but only if we disregard how much it costs to develop big-time talent and get recognized or recruited.
Competition for a college scholarship starts “earlier than any other college sport,”according to the College Sports Scholarship website. “Playing club soccer and attending soccer camps and showcases is essential in the process of securing asoccer scholarship.”
All of this means that the ticket price for a college soccer scholarship isn’t cheap. The cost of playing premier club soccer can be upwards of a few thousand dollars each year. With less than 10 players on a Division I team receiving athletic scholarship aid, many players with the potential and talent to become big-time playmakers are left on the outside looking in.
Coaching the No. 1 college team in the country, Cirvoski is likely not concerned with semantics or the possibility that his comments can be perceived as downplaying the hierarchical class restraints embedded within youth talent development.
Dominant coverage of the nation’s best college soccer team may never make that connection or critical analysis, but maybe it should if the coach is to be portrayed as a man who supposedly embodies the American dream.
Zirin, Title IX: My love of politics, sports
Sports Journalism class blog
September 22, 2012
By Kayla Faria
Wavering on topics for my personal statement, I’ve been reflecting on my interests since arriving in College Park. Trying to find the story that changed everything for me in my academic trajectory, I keep having flashbacks to those seminal “ah-hah” moments, which have shaped my interests and made me the neurotic journalism student and law school applicant I am today.
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sports journalism before enrolling at the university (mostly because I loved writing, was obsessed with sports, and hated Shakespeare), but I think it was my freshman connection English 101 class that led to my real discovery.
Assigned an eight page final position paper, I wrote a 25-page paper entitled “Athletes as Agents of Socio-Political Change,” in which I argued that athletes should use their platform to engage in social and political issues. To make my argument, I used scholarly articles, newscasts, magazine and newspaper clips, and even a book that I had purchased. In high school, you couldn’t find me near a book, even for assigned reading, but here I was buying a book on my own free will.
It was Dave Zirin’s “A People’s History of Sports in the United States.” And I was obsessed with it.
“Sports are what we make of them. If we sit back and let political messages be casually pumped through our play, it will be the death of us. If we challenge sports to be as good as they can be – a force to break down walls that divide us, a motor for inclusion – they can propel us toward a better world, a world worth playing in – and worth fighting for.”
After reading those three sentences, I was like, “Who is this guy? He just gets it.” I started reading Edge of Sports (my first time ever following a blog) in 2009 and haven’t stopped since. Because Zirin always finds a different angle, his writing changed the way I saw sports and peaked my interest in politics.
“The greatest athletes ever to compete at the professional level have asserted themselves as the few who spoke out against injustice and separated themselves by broadening their impact to places outside of the athletic arena,” I wrote.
In my eyes, Michael Jordan with his “Republicans buy sneakers too” was no longer great. Michael Jordan, like Tiger Woods, could never be great. They were too busy being Nike.
Bill Russell, Steve Nash, Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali, Craig Hodges, Mohamed Aboutreika, Curt Schilling, Jesse Owens, Julie Foudy, Arthur Ashe, Ted Williams, and Andrew Ferrence – they were great.
Noticing that few women athletes had been recognized as agents of socio-political change and pop culture icons, I set out to research those that had reached this echelon in a presentation for my feminist theory course.
“The intersectional analysis of sports journalism coverage of female athletes attempts to critically examine how the media constructs race, class, gender, and sexuality through repetitive themes of motherhood, sisterhood, femininity, and sex appeal. This is intended to provide a discourse in which viewers, sports fans, and scholars can discuss how [these factors] influence the media’s portrayal of female athletes, public perception of these athletes, and the legacies of these figures in popular culture.”
Focusing specifically on Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Lisa Leslie, Danica Patrick, Venus and Serena Williams, and the great Billie Jean King, I went way above and beyond the assignment again. It was clear that this is where I wanted to focus my energy because I was so passionate about it. I remember thinking that I could write about politics and sports forever. And I wanted to.
Surfing the web for a women’s studies internship, I came across the National Women’s Law Center website that featured a listing for the National Girls and Women in Sports Day intern.
NGWSD “honors the achievements of female athletes while drawing attention to the areas of athletics in which advancement is still necessary.” Intern responsibilities include “scheduling visits with Members of Congress, event planning, preparing materials and coordinating follow-up [and participating] in all NGWSD activities alongside advocates and professional/amateur female athletes.”
This was it. There was a god. He had created a position just for me.
To say that NGWSD was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of would be the understatement of the century, but words fail to describe it.
I had the opportunity to see Grete Eliassen, Lillian Greene-Chamberlain, Sarah Hughes, Donna de Varona, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley and Nancy Hogshead-Makar use their platform as athletes to increase opportunities for women and girls in sports. Lobbying for high school athletics data bills with athletes and advocates from major women’s organizations, I heard about what sports has meant to each of them and its significance in the lives of Congress members on Capitol Hill.
What I had been writing and reading about was happening right in front of me. As advocates of Title IX, these women transcended athletics and changed the direction of sport history.
“Making an impact beyond just my sport is what it’s all about,” Eliassen, the six-time Winter X Games medalist, said in her panel remarks at the congressional briefing.
It was an unbelievable high. This was sports at its best.
When a journalist who worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer asked me what my aspirations were for a dream job later that day, I said, “I want to be a sports columnist and write about athletes as agents of socio-political change.”
“That job doesn’t exist,” she responded honestly.
“Dave Zirin,” I said. “I basically want to be Dave Zirin.”
It was no doubt that Dave Zirin’s work and my participation in NGWSD informed how I felt after a varsity student-athlete at Maryland recently explained that she censors herself, conscious of her brand because she represents the school and is “friends with” and “followed by” her coach on social media sites.
Although I was disheartened, I don’t blame her. She isn’t making the money that professional athletes are making because she isn’t making any money. She might never make any money from participating in intercollegiate athletics. While I refuse to say that a lack of money should stop college student-athletes from using their platform to voice their socio-political views, I am obligated to acknowledge that the risk they face is huge and it shouldn’t be.
The potential for sports to showcase greatness in creating social change isn’t something that any university should squander because the commercialization of a brand. If University of Maryland athletics administrators were really looking out for the school’s interest in having the greatest student-athletes represent the school, they would not only allow athletes to air their socio-political views, but would encourage it.
If we’re sports fans who want the best that college athletics has to offer, we should want more from Maryland athletes because they aren’t dumb jocks.
I hope Maryland student-athletes will attend the Title IX panel and listen to Dave Zirin. It just might be the seminal “ah-hah” moment for them that leads them to transcend athletics and change the direction of sport history.
Because it just might lead to a story that I love writing.
Sick of Penn State coverage
Sports Journalism class blog
September 10, 2012
By Kayla Faria
When I think about the national coverage of the Penn State case, the first thing that comes to my mind is ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp calling Sandusky a “monster” outside the courtroom steps after he had been convicted. I sat in awe watching the screen as I could not believe the Cornell University alumnus had just called the subject of his coverage a monster.
Although I find what Sandusky did to be absolutely unforgivable, I have to say that I found it completely unbecoming of Schapp and a complete disregard for journalism ethics. However, Schapp wasn’t the only one. Journalists from news outlets across the country have since used the word to describe Sandusky.
It concerns me because I was taught that the job of a journalist is to inform, not make value judgments. Maybe if we (as a national collective media) spent less time talking about how “Joe Pa” epitomizes what is good in college athletics, raising him on a pedestal, instead of investigating the truth and reporting it, then perhaps more child victims could have been spared.
Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts for the sexual abuse of minors. Schapp didn’t have to say he was a monster; the audience could very easily reach that conclusion on their own.
Don’t get me wrong, if I had to rate Sandusky, he would rank near the pus that infects mucous that cruds up fungus that feeds on pond scum, but that is entirely irrelevant to the point.
I can’t decide if I’m sick of the Penn State scandal or maybe just sickened by it.
I’ve had enough of the Facebook posts, ESPN’s “PSU” ticker, and the debates on the NCAA-imposed sanctions, cheering the football team, and the infamous bronze Joe Paterno statue that has come to represent his legacy.
My initial reaction to the Penn State scandal was disappointment in Paterno, who I thought was absolutely culpable for not reporting the abuse to authorities, while occupying a tremendous position of power with considerable influence.
Since the Louis Freeh report was released, I can’t believe the American public, specifically some in the Penn State community, can stand behind Paterno with the knowledge that he persuaded school officials not to report Sandusky to authorities. Furthermore, journalists nationwide should take some blame in painting a narrative that simultaneously criticizes and valorizes Paterno.
The coverage overwhelmingly resembles something like: “Joe Paterno tried to handle the sexual assault of children in-house, but he did so much for the university community, holding student-athletes to higher standards and dedicating a $10 million library. This mistake will stain his legacy.”
Paterno coached for more than 40 years. Enough articles have been written about what he has meant to Penn State and college athletics.
Following the publication of the Freeh report, I can’t understand why journalists include any variation of a tribute for his accomplishments in articles on how he covered up the sexual abuse of children. I could be wrong, but I vaguely remember something about minimizing harm as a journalistic duty. It seems to be a duty that is largely neglected in these articles which disrespect the victims by trivializing the seriousness of the abuse with a focus on a theme that has already been covered extensively – Joe Paterno’s legacy as a man of elite moral character.
To me, I don’t see any article written like this as being objective. The Freeh report uncovered the facts that eroded the perceived notion of Joe Paterno as a man of “truth and integrity.”
He is not the “conscience of college sports.” The NCAA sanctions did not“defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator.” Paterno accomplished all of that on his own. We may have once thought that he embodied all that was good in college sports, exuding an unparalleled moral fiber, but now we have facts to the contrary.
Louis Freeh did what perhaps we as journalists were either too tired or lazy to do, but we seem to have learned nothing from it.
It’s unnecessary to paint some sort of idealized picture of a man simply because he is dead. It may be in some sort of “bad taste” to write negatively of a person following death, but a journalist’s responsibility to seek the truth and report it supersedes this.
If journalists want to protect reputations, they should do so by not bringing up Ohio State or USC in articles to compare and consider how the NCAA sought to punish Penn State. This case is completely unlike any other. Players weren’t scoring gifts. Children were being molested. It’s not fair to the victims, Ohio state players, or Reggie Bush to place the cases within, even remotely, the same context, whether inadvertently or not.
Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, former university vice-president Gary Schultz, athletic director Tim Curley, and former university president Graham Spanier were those named in the Freeh report for knowing about the abuse and not reporting it and then lying under oath in court.
None of the student-athletes on the football team knew about what was going on. How can we fault them when they had no knowledge of the abuse? How can journalists even suggest rooting for them to fail after these student-athletes, perhaps even more than the American public, were betrayed by a man who had been practically canonized in American media for more than four decades?
Without knowing all of the facts, the Penn State community supported a man they thought they knew. It probably wasn’t right, but how many people did Paterno fool before he died?
The whole thing disgusts me. It makes me sick to my stomach, but I still wouldn’t call Sandusky a monster, at least while I’m working as a journalist anyway.
Dollars and sense in college athletics
Sports Journalism class blog
September 10, 2012
By Kayla Faria
If Maryland’s decision to cut eight varsity sports teams has shown us anything, it is that college sports is a business – for better or worse.
When former Xavier forward Dezmine Wells committed to the Terps last week, the first sentence in the online press release was not about his expulsion, the allegations of sexual assault, his aptitude as a student, or even what Wells would contribute on the hardwood. Instead, the lede was Jerry Maguire-esque.
As much as we adore the idea of amateur sports (e.g. Miracle on Ice), we can’t kid ourselves into thinking that college athletes like the 20-year-old Wells are amateurs.
Thrust smack-dab in the middle of the business of big-time college sports, it’s no wonder why high-profile athletes have spoken out about college sports, basketball in particular, as an arena for the exploitation of student-athletes. Ballplayers help produce massive revenue for the university with their performance on the court, yet are simultaneously punished for receiving any financial compensation for their play.
A major counterargument to this claim is the “shut-up-and-play” side that says student-athletes are getting paid, albeit minimal, through the form of college scholarships.
It’s hard to argue that the process doesn’t closely resemble an economic model of supply and demand. If a student-athlete gets hurt or is wrongly accused of a crime, he or she is pretty much kicked to the curb, while the university barely skips a beat.
“I’ve learned that it is a major responsibility that comes with being a student-athlete at all times,” Wells said. “I’m thankful God has blessed me with a second opportunity to continue my education.”
Members of the eight varsity University of Maryland teams that saw their sports lose varsity-sport status were able to continue their education because the university honored its scholarships, since it was legally at fault in failing to maintain its end of the bargain in the contract.
Nevertheless, Wells’ transfer should remind college students of how little rights their peers possess as student-athletes.
State legislators in California have been working to change that this summer by passing the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights.
The law would require any state university (now only including USC, UCLA, Cal, and Stanford) that receives more than $10 million annually in sports media revenue to uphold a player’s scholarship if the player experiences a career-ending injury or becomes seriously ill as a result of participating in the school’s athletic program.
It would make California the first state to provide financial protections to injured student-athletes on scholarship, thereby slightly shifting the “landscape” of college athletics as a business, while preserving the university’s status as an institution of higher learning.
In an arena indisputably characterized by dollars, the Student-Athlete Bill of Rights seems to make sense.
Terps fans should keep an eye on Tanifum
Sports Journalism class blog
September 4, 2012
By Kayla Faria
In a summer filled with elite athletic competitions that included the Olympic Games and Euro 2012, it’s easy to overlook the largest collegiate rugby event in the country.
The University of Maryland club rugby team lost in the Challenger Final – the losers’ bracket – at the Collegiate Rugby Championship in Pennsylvania, but the Terps featured the tournament’s try leader in 2012 ACRL Co-Player of the Year senior captain fullback Trevor Tanifum.
Widely considered the breakout star of the invitational, the lightning-quick Tanifum earned Sevens All-American honors for his performance where he converted on the goal line more than any other rugger in the tournament.
Tanifum’s 10 tries were one shy of the CRC record set by Bowling Green’s Rocco Mauer in 2010. Tanifum scored 50 points, which trailed only Arizona’s Peter Tiberio and Dartmouth’s Derek Fish.
The English-born Tanifum thrived under the limelight as the games were broadcast on NBC to raise awareness for the game set to debut in the 2016 summer Olympics.
“I love the atmosphere,” he said, according to an article in RUGBYMag.com. “This is the way rugby should be played – loud music environment, and this time we have the chance to get out and play in front of a crowd.”
While Tanifum’s standout performance in the national spotlight may have come as a shock to rugby aficionados across the country, it probably did not surprise his teammate Matias Cima, a former High School All-American flyhalf, who called him a “freak athlete” and the fastest player in the league during an interview in early April.
If Terps fans missed Tanifum weaving in and out of defenses in his last season sporting the red and black, they missed something special, but may be able to see his talent showcased on a larger scale.
After Rocco Mauer’s record performance in the 2010 tournament, Mauer received a bronze medal in the 2011 Pan American Games and signed a full-time training contract with USA Rugby in January 2012. Based on Mauer’s success, it seems conceivable that Tanifum’s rugby career is not over.
“Now the ball’s in the court of those coaches and selectors. Get Tanifum, who says he wants to be an Eagle [on the U.S. National Team], in a high performance environment quickly,” assistant editor Pat Clifton wrote in a RUBGYMag.com article.
The university arena has played host to few exceptional University of Maryland athletes who have had the privilege of representing the country through sport.
UVA football player on hunger strike for low-wage women
National Women’s Law Center
March 5, 2012
By Kayla Faria
News outlets across the country, including ESPN, The Nation, and the Chicago Sun Times, have been covering the Joseph Williams’ story – a University of Virginia football player who joined several other students on a hunger strike organized by the Living Wage Campaign.
Williams’ hunger strike protested the $7.25 hourly wage of some university employees. At the intersection of sports and politics, the story is about race and class, but it’s also about gender, an angle largely neglected in media coverage of the strike.
“As one of four children supported by a single mother, I have experienced many period of economic hardshipin my life,” wrote Williams in an essay on reasons for striking. “On a personal level, this cause is one that hits very close to home.”
Williams specifically identified women and African Americans as most of the university employees affected by low wages, acknowledging one full-time female employee at the university who was unable to pay rent and forced to go without electricity for three months. When asked why it was important for him to take this stand, Williams named two women workers he knows personally who are “being marginalized and exploited.”
Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. A woman working full time at the federal minimum wage earns below the poverty line for a family of three.
In his “Why I’m hunger striking at UVA” essay, Williams focuses on how these workers do not receive enough pay for basic necessities in Charlottesville where he says the cost of living is 10 percent higher than the national average.
Since most minimum wage workers are women, increasing the minimum wage would help close the gender wage gap in which full-time working women are paid 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts receive. The wage gap is even greater for full-time working black women who receive only 62 cents for each dollar paid their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts.
“Hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25 an hour, while six of the top 10 highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the university,” Williams wrote.
“This extreme inequality has disturbed and disillusioned students for decades,” wrote Williams about the university’s pay gap, “yet our pleas have been consistently ignored and workers are still paid unjust wages.”
The “Living Wage at UVA” campaign announced the end of its 13-day hunger strike Thursday, but remains optimistic in the students’ tireless efforts to raise the minimum wage.
“We are energized, we are organized, and we remain,” the campaign site notes, “hungry but hopeful for justice and a living wage.”
Sports study shows progress, persistent gender inequities
National Women’s Law Center
February 15, 2012
By Kayla Faria
The whistle just blew. It’s halftime.
You’re losing. Your coach is telling the team we’ve made progress since the beginning of the season, but we still have a long way to go. You think to yourself, “What is progress? We’re down – what’s the score again?”
A 35-yearlong study on women in intercollegiate sport released the score last week, showing an unprecedented number of women’s teams leading to the highest women’s participation and employmentnumbers in intercollegiate athletic history.
“Some would point to this progress and say we’ve arrived,” authors R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter wrote in a 2009 Academe article. “But progress is not completion. Movement toward equity is not full equity.”
Increases in athletic participation have not mirrored the percentage of women represented as coaches, athletic administrators and trainers. Despite a record-setting 200,000 intercollegiate female athletes, only 1 in 5 intercollegiate teams is coached by a female and the same number of athletic directors are female, according to report estimates.
Although more female head coaches train women’s teams than ever before, less than half of women’s teams are coached by women. In contrast, 97 to 98 percent of men’s teams are coached by men, a statistic that has changed little since even before the landmark legislation of Title IX.
Before Title IX was passed, 1 girl for every 12 boys participated in high school athletics, but now 1 girl for every 1.4 boys plays today, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
In 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s teams were coached by a female, but few female coaches were paid to coach and almost none coached men’s teams, the report notes.
It has been 40 years since Title IX, but almost 10 percent of all athletics departments still do not have one female administrator, which significantly decreases the likelihood that a female coach will be hired, according to report statistics.
Strength and conditioning coaches work with female athletes on almost half of all campuses, but less than 1 in 4 campuses have a female strength and conditioning coach on staff.
Women outnumber men as assistant coaches on intercollegiate women’s teams. However, females represent more than half of unpaid assistant coaches on women’s teams.
What is progress?
More than 99 percent of all schools have an athletic trainer and sports information director. However, only 1 in 3 athletic trainers and 1 in 10 sports information directors are female, report estimates show.
Halftime is over. We still have work to do.
Now we know the score.
Title IX pioneers make the pass before the assist
National Women’s Law Center
February 3, 2012
By Kayla Faria
After a day like Wednesday, the rest of the week seems painfully ordinary. When I told my friend this, she said I sounded like Timmy Turner asking for Christmas every day.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day may not have been Christmas, but it was a gift.
As a journalism major, I’m supposed to have a way with words, which is why I make it my business to own all of my opponents in Words With Friends, Scrabble, and Bananagrams. However, I realized yesterday I couldn’t tell a single story about the day without repeatedly using the words “great” and “amazing.”
Whether I was relaying Lillian Greene-Chamberlain’s sports and advocacy stories, bragging about meeting Barbara Mikulski or talking about how Representative Linda Sanchez can talk some serious softball, I couldn’t help reiterating those same words.
I was moved by the passion of NGWSD coalition members like Neena Chaudhry and Chandelle Schulte and the enthusiasm of panelists Veronica Hanc and Betsey Stevenson.
It was great. The women I met were amazing.
They have had to be amazing because, as Greene-Chamberlain said Wednesday, “when you’re a pioneer, you can’t make mistakes.”
Greene-Chamberlain and other champions of Title IX have inspired generations of young girls and women to pursue their dreams, athletically and academically. As advocates for women and girls, they have transcended athletics and changed the direction of sport history.
Who knows if there would have been a Grete Eliassen or Sarah Hughes without people like Lillian Greene-Chamberlain, Donna de Varona, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, or Nancy Hogshead-Makar?
“Making an impact beyond just my sport is what it’s all about,” said six-time Winter X Games medalist Grete Eliassen in her panel remarks.
Eliassen recognized both the people who have come before her and the young girls who will follow her, such as young athletes like Veronica who love to play the game.
To use my favorite sports analogy, she recognized the pass before the assist.
I’m honored to have been part of a team filled with a roster of pioneers who recognize the past achievements of girls and women in sport and work tirelessly, from the playing fields to the boardrooms, to ensure that more girls and women have opportunities to play.
Witnessing this pass before the assist yesterday was witnessing greatness. It was amazing. It was a gift.
There are no other words…