Saturday, April 9, 2011

Women Athletics - Then and Now

Ladies, you were born 10 years too early if you really wanted to compete athletically. Title IX was a powerful enabler when it arrived in 1970 or so, although it didn't do much for our era.

I was reminded of this recently. LaVonne Forland Welch described girls gym class as a game of volleyball with 15 on a side when the weather was bad, or softball when the weather was good. Even though Iowa's 6-girl basketball was pretty popular in those days and later, at NKHS the girls who were athletes might try out for one of the 5 cheerleading positions and that was about it.

As a teacher/administrator, a young lady by the name of Kim Gottman was the best female athlete I saw during those years. And she put on one of those "holy cow" moves as a sophomore in '79 or '80 (post-Title IX) that made me realize the male chauvinist pig that I am had been blind to what was going on all around us over the years. Or maybe "not going on" is a better description of the suppression in place.

Our local team was on defense at the time I am referencing. With nimble hands and a good eye, Kim stole the ball and took off downcourt on a fast break. An opponent tried to head her off after she crossed the timeline, but Kim never broke stride, dribbled behind her back to avoid the defender, and went in for a layup.

I had no idea girls had that skill level. And how pathetic is that? Ladies, I guess we expected you all to be pretty scientists. Or homemakers. Our heroine: June Cleaver. The reality: you never had a chance. If only Title IX had come 20 years earlier.

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