Essay # 2
March 5, 2004
Are you crying? There’s no crying…there’s no crying in baseball!”
Serving as the manager of the Rockford Peaches, a professional baseball
team, Jimmy Dugan doesn’t tolerate crying from any of his players.
Baseball of course being such a masculine sport, a game over flowing with
testosterone, jock-itch, and 5 o’clock shadows….right? Not when your
shortstop is wearing lipstick and the right fielder has a “c-cup!” During
the Second World War women took the jobs of men in professional baseball
while the games best players fought over seas. A League of Their Own,
directed by Penny Marshall, depicts the story of a pioneer breakthrough for
women’s rights in sports when gender roles are reversed.
World War II forced America to make adjustments in even the country’s
past time, Professional Baseball. Owners of professional teams struggled
to establish interest and acceptance for women in a man’s game. With hard
word and dedication the league became not only a success but the
inauguration for an equal rights movement in women’s athletics. Thirty
Three years later this battle continued triumphantly. Title IX was
established through the National College Athletic Association in 1972.
This bi-law created opportunities for female athletes by dividing all
athletic scholarships evenly between male and female teams. Controversy
continues to exist because male sports usually bring in the majority of
income at college and universities nation wide. How successful will
schools be able to generate interest and income with fewer scholarship
funded educations to offer potential male athletes?
The University of Connecticut couldn’t be happier with the results
Title IX has helped earn them. In the span of 25 years, UConn has
established the premiere collegiate women’s basketball program. After
winning the 2003 national championship Coach Geno Ariemma stated, “twenty
years ago this school couldn’t even afford me a paid assistant, now my
seniors are signing professional contracts and there offering me millions
of dollars to do what I continue to love!” The growth of this program has
set a standard for all female athletics. Connecticut’s citizens even
ranked UConn women’s basketball the number one most popular team in the
state in 2001(www.ctpost.com). Following in a close second with 12,000
fewer votes was the UConn men’s basketball team.
Women’s basketball eventually created such an immense fan base that in
June of 1997 the Women’s National Basketball Association began. Sherryl
Swoops became the first women’s professional basketball player when she
signed on October 23, 1996. Her $30,000 playing contract for the Houston
Comets doesn’t remotely compare to the lucrative 1.2 million she earned in
endorsements just last year. Like Title IX, the WNBA has allowed women the
opportunity to compete at a higher level of competition than ever before.
The value of female athletes has increased so significantly that some earn
more than even professional male athletes playing the same sport.
What about those women that don’t play for money, but rather for the
love of the game? During the early 1900’s women were not offered the
opportunity to earn a higher education. Most raised children and worked as
homemakers. Some of the all time best female athletes could have been
overlooked due to the lack of opportunity given for them to exhibit their
talents. Is it possible that Sally “the riveter” might have had a
beautiful jump shot or even a great curveball? Title IX helped allow more
women the opportunity to earn a college education at no cost. The bulk of
them will go on to become a professional in something other than sports.
Without scholarship educations the potential of these females could have
Lauren Redler, a lacrosse player for Georgetown University, graduated
high school with dreams and admirations of becoming an Orthopaedic Surgeon.
Her grades and SATs were very similar to other top admissions candidates
but her athletic ability set her beyond all. Lauren’s athleticism helped
her earn admission to Georgetown while also aiding in tuition cost with the
scholarship awarded. Because of the developments made in collegiate gender
equity rights brilliant female minds will be put to use adequately in the
future. These opportunities can be directly attributed to the Title XI
ruling that provides females with scholarships that normally were given to
Women’s roles have changed radically since World War II. The fight
for equality has allowed women to hold positions that were formally labeled
as male dominant. Sports eventually offered women the chance to earn a
degree, subsequently furthering the success they will have in the
professional world. Women are now doctors, managers, and police officers.
Gender Equity rights and Title XI remain to be controversial issues but
have helped pave the way for women athletically and professionally.