The Games Women Play
Title IX has been a huge success, creating athletic
opportunities where they didn't exist. So 30 years after its
passage, why is the law still under attack?
I'm a girl. A female, a woman, a chick. I've also been an
athlete for a quarter century. I've competed seriously in
swimming, cycling and triathlons; less than seriously in skiing,
sport climbing and flat-track motorcycle racing. Lately, George
Will in Newsweek and the editorial page of The Wall Street
Journal have been barking about women just not being interested
in sports. We don't have the aptitude for them anyway, they
say--it's genetic. According to Jessica Gavora, author of a new
book called Tilting the Playing Field, as a child I would have
been happier "playing with dolls and acting out parental and
family scenarios" than joining my male teammates in the pool at
dawn. Who knew?
All this talk about what women should and shouldn't want to do
comes with the 30th anniversary of Title IX, the law that
mandates equal opportunity for both sexes wherever there is
federal funding. As laws go, it has been a success. In 1972, 1
in 27 high school girls participated in sports. That number has
now risen more than tenfold, to 1 in 2.5. There are 3,714 more
distaff programs at college campuses across America than there
were 20 years ago, and despite some cutbacks, there are 989 more
men's programs as well. So why is Title IX being vilified?
Critics call it a quota bill enforced by a handful of antimale
extremists whose goal is the elimination of many beloved men's
sports programs nationwide. These naysayers also blame Title IX
for creating new and--because women are so biologically
ill-suited to athletics--unwanted women's teams.
While it is depressingly true that more than 170 men's wrestling
programs have disappeared in the past 20 years (along with other
lower-profile men's programs), Title IX didn't cause their
demise. Title IX does not tell universities how to spend their
sports budgets, it just says that both sexes must get equal
access to the resources. Equal does not mean identical, and no
one is out to be unreasonable. A female diver does not expect to
be treated like the starting quarterback. So when a school
chooses to charter a jet to take the football team to a game
rather than fund the men's wrestling squad, please don't blame
the women's diving team.
In 1999 women received 33% of NCAA budgets nationwide, 41% of
the sports scholarships and 30% of the recruiting dollars.
Meanwhile, about 70% of men's athletic budgets went to football
and basketball. As for the argument that those programs are the
breadwinners of athletic departments, in Division I only 41% of
football teams and 51% of basketball teams managed to break even.
This can lead to some embarrassing math. In 1995 UCLA cut its
men's swimming and gymnastics teams because the school needed to
save money. At the time, the combined budget for those
programs--both of which had produced Olympic champions--was
$266,490. The budget for football? $6,555,774.
That is why it's misguided to pit, say, the men's cross-country
team against the women's rowing team, or women against men, in
general. Clearly, women want what sports offer--fitness,
camaraderie, confidence, fun. And we love athletic men. (Believe
me, we want large numbers of athletic men around a hell of a lot
more than George Will does.) Both the men's cross-country and
women's rowing teams are about sports in a way that transcends
showbiz and chartered jets. Those teams are all about getting to
play. And that's what Title IX is about: more wrestling and more
women and more men and more sports funding in universities,
period. --Susan Casey
Casey is the managing editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WOMEN.
Hot to Trot
At 62, famed harness driver Herve Filion tries to come back from
Wearing a sweatshirt and a Nike cap and chain-smoking
cigarettes, Herve Filion looks more like a fixture in your local
diner than what he is: the winningest harness racer ever and a
man on the verge of a comeback. To those who say he's too old
and too tainted after a seven-year exile due to allegations of
race-fixing, he has a message: "You know what I say," his voice
crackling like a faulty P.A. "Everybody's got two things, an
ass---- and an opinion."
Filion, who has 14,783 career victories--4,000 more than any
other driver or jockey in the U.S.--has never been big on
subtlety. In his prime he worked 14-hour days, a small, leathery
engine of a man known for his endurance and his rapport with
horses. Now, nearing his return at Delaware's Harrington Raceway
sometime in the next two weeks, he has no doubt he'll succeed
again. "I expect to win my first race," he says, "if I don't,
I'll win my second or third."
In August 1995 Filion was indicted for allegedly conspiring to
fix a race at Yonkers (N.Y.) Raceway. The evidence: a wiretapped
conversation he had with Danny Kramer, a bookie. Filion denies
any wrongdoing beyond talking with a bookmaker: "Kramer asked if
I thought I could finish third. I said, 'Sure, why not.' I
yessed him, that's all I did."
In October 2000 the race-fixing charges were dropped in exchange
for a guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of tax evasion. But
the damage was done: Filion, who says he spent $40,000 in legal
fees, was suspended by New York's Racing and Wagering Board.
Though his horses won $85 million (drivers keep 5%), Filion says
he went broke. He has spent the last few years as a stable hand
at a Long Island farm. To race fans it's akin to Michael Jordan
wiping up sweat puddles at an NBA game.
Last November, Filion applied for a license in New York but was
turned down. Then last month he got a one-year conditional
license in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Though Filion is confident
he'll meet his goal of 15,000 wins, others aren't as sure. "He's
been away too long," says John Pawlak of the U.S. Trotting
Association. "Younger drivers will run circles around him. He
doesn't have the reflexes."
Filion shrugs it off. "If I feel this good in five years, I'll
still be racing." He pauses, then waves his cigarette. "Hey, I
dropped out of fifth grade. It's not like I know how to do
anything else." --Chris Ballard
SPORT? NOT A SPORT?
THIS WEEK: HOT DOG EATING CONTESTS
SPORT "There's a competitive element. I watch videotapes of
other eaters to study their game, and you really have to train.
I drink gallons of water to stretch my stomach." --Eric Booker,
who holds the U.S. record of 28 hot dogs eaten in 12 minutes
SPORT "It's the sport of Everyman. If you've got Neanderthals in
a cave and a rabbit walks in, that's a competitive eating
situation." --Richard Shea, president, International Federation
of Competitive Eating
NOT A SPORT "Just thinking about it makes me want to barf."
--Danielle Ammaccapane, golfer
NOT A SPORT "They're gluttons, not athletes." --John Burkett,
Red Sox pitcher
NOT A SPORT "There are enough hot dogs in sports." --Ed
McCaffrey, Broncos receiver
NOT A SPORT "Who can't eat? Everybody can eat." --Quentin
Richardson, Clippers guard
NOT A SPORT "In a sport your heart rate increases, not your
cholesterol count." --Sara Delano, USOC massage therapist
NOT A SPORT "Eating a bunch of hot dogs is a hobby, not a
sport." --Rulon Gardner, wrestler
NOT A SPORT "Where's the athleticism?" --Mike Stanton, Yankees
NOT A SPORT "That's a quick way to get obese. But I really like
hot dogs." --Kendrell Bell, Steelers linebacker
2 American League nonpitchers, the Rangers' Gabe Kapler and the
Angels' Bengie Molina, who have been on a roster all season
without hitting a homer.
18,791 Average attendance at this year's Stanley Cup playoff
games, a record high.
10.8 million Average number of households per game that tuned
in to the NBA Finals, a 16% drop from last year and the lowest
average since 1981.
10 South Korean national team soccer players who were excused
from finishing their compulsory 26-month military service after
the team upset Portugal, 1-0, in the World Cup.
1,010 Days between wins for Devil Rays lefty Wilson Alvarez,
whose victory over Toronto on June 5 was his first since beating
the Indians on Aug. 29, 1999.
$21,745,902 Amount the Devil Rays paid Alvarez, who made just
four starts while missing much of the past two years with arm
trouble, over that time.
The heavyweight division has nowhere to go but nowhere
With his recent victory Lennox Lewis not only knocked Mike Tyson
out of the intrigue business but also completed such a sweep of
the heavyweight division that it brings everybody back to
squared circle one. Put it this way: The next heavyweight bout
likely to create any kind of interest will be the July 27 fight
between 52-year-old Larry Holmes and Eric Esch, the 350-pound
novelty act better known as Butterbean.
The simple problem is, there's no one left to challenge Lewis.
Most of the names that you've heard of in this division are
boxers Lewis has beaten once (Hasim Rahman) or twice (Evander
Holyfield). The No. 1 contender is Chris Byrd (33-2), a smart,
tricky fighter who, sadly, doesn't bring out the fans. After him
Lewis might be cajoled into meeting Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko
(34-1), who's similarly proportioned to Lewis, but the interest
in two Europeans is unlikely to generate anywhere near Lewis's
recent take of $25 million. Everybody else in the Top 10 has
already had his chance (David Tua and Michael Grant, to name
two) and come up wanting. Given the bleak field, the 36-year-old
Lewis just may call it quits.
At least there are some interesting alternatives. This weekend
featherweights Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera square off
in a sequel to what many think was the 2000 fight of the year.
In July we'll be treated to a dynamic welterweight bout in Sugar
Shane Mosely vs. Vernon Forrest. In September it'll be junior
middleweights Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas. With the
marquee division in the doldrums, the lighter side of boxing
holds out more than a little bit of hope.
The World Cup mohawk
A few hours before the June 10 U.S.-South Korea World Cup game,
forward Clint Mathis (top left) made a hair-razing decision: He
shaved his head into that '80s coif, the Mohawk. "I wanted to
fit in with the rest of the world," says Mathis. He wasn't
kidding. A number of World Cuppers are playing it high and
tight. German midfielder Christian Ziege (top right) says, "My
wife made me do it," and Turkish midfielder Umit Davala (middle
right) shaved off shoulder-length hair. Then there's the
Mohawk-in-a-bottle set: Japanese midfielder Kazuyuki Toda
(middle left), who had sported a rainbow coalition of hair
colors and styles, settled on a rooster red 'hawk, while
Sweden's Freddie Ljungberg's crimson crest (lower left) is a
tribute to Sid Vicious. The late Sex Pistol is an English cult
figure on the order of forward David Beckham (lower right),
whose peroxide Mohawk is the brainchild of his wife, Victoria,
the former Posh Spice. Predictably, Beckham's 'do has inspired
legions of imitators in England and at the Cup. Call it a Mohawk
to dye for.
PROPOSED By sports historian Heiner Gillmeister of Germany's
Bonn University, that golf originated in the Netherlands, not in
Scotland. Gillmeister, whose thesis appears in The International
Journal of the History of Sport, says that long-cited evidence
that golf began in Scotland in the 15th century--including
government documents that refer to people playing "gauf"--in
fact refers to a form of hockey. Gillmeister has found golf
rules in a 16th-century Dutch document and cites an 18th-century
Dutch painting of a man hitting a ball with a stick as the
earliest known visual representation of golf.
INJURED At least 20 fans of Brazil's and Argentina's soccer
teams when a brawl broke out in a remote Bangladeshi village.
The rival fans, who fought with stones and iron rods, were
battling to raise national flags on the village's tallest
BURNED A 39-year-old fan of the South Korean soccer squad who
doused himself in paint thinner and lit himself on fire hours
before the team beat Portugal last week. The man, who was in
critical condition, left a note in which he wrote, "I will
become the 12th soccer player by becoming a spirit and will run
for the victory of the Korean team."
RECOVERED In a bust of a money-laundering operation in New York
City, a stained, shriveled righty baseball glove purportedly
worn by the lefthanded Babe Ruth. The mitt, along with a pair of
Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves, a Michael Jordan basketball and
other items, was allegedly bought by Silvio (Crazy Sal) Salome
to launder proceeds from illegal loans. A spokesman for the
Brooklyn D.A. said Ruth may have used the glove as a boy.
REQUESTED By PETA, that Shaquille O'Neal stop going on hunts in
which animals are kept in fenced-in areas and then shot at close
range by trophy seekers. In a letter to O'Neal, Dan Shannon,
PETA's sports campaign coordinator, says that the animals "have
less of a chance against you than the New Jersey Nets." O'Neal
couldn't be reached for comment.
He Loves L.A.
David Kohler has everything but Jack Nicholson in his Lakers
David Kohler likes the Lakers. A lot. Sixteen years ago, when he
was 24 and running a fledgling memorabilia business, SportsCards
Plus, Kohler created a Lakers shrine in his bedroom in
Huntington Beach, Calif. When the room proved too small, he
expanded it throughout his condominium. Over time even that
proved inadequate, and two years ago, in part to accommodate his
collection (as well as his wife, Robbi, and their two children),
Kohler moved into a custom-built 10,000-square- foot house. It
includes an 1,100-square-foot room--with 25-foot-high ceilings
and a hardwood floor embossed with the Lakers' logo--where he
keeps more than 2,000 pieces of Lakerphernalia. "Not to sound
pompous," says Kohler, who has turned SportsCards Plus into one
of the U.S.'s largest memorabilia companies, "but it's the best
collection out there."
Displayed inside mahogany and glass cases are game-worn jerseys,
programs, trophies, game balls (including the one Wilt
Chamberlain used to break the career scoring record in 1966) and
signed photos that range from the first Minneapolis Lakers team
(1948-49) to today's three-peaters. There are more than 100
jerseys in all, as well as glasses worn on the court by George
Mikan and a pair of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's goggles with gum stuck
on them (though no soiled Derek Fisher headbands--"at least not
yet," says Kohler). Kohler estimates the total value of the room
at "definitely over seven figures."
Since there's no official Lakers museum, Kohler, who attends
more than 25 games a year, plans to open his shrine so that
schoolchildren can visit. Jerry West, Magic Johnson and five of
the original Lakers (including Mikan) have visited--and, at
Kohler's request, signed the door when they left. As for Robbi,
Kohler says that she, too, loves the Lakers, albeit not as much
as he does. "I started the collection before we met," he says,
"so she knew what she was in for."
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
JUNE 21-JUNE 27
FRIDAY 6/21--ESPN CLASSIC 8 PM--Sports Century: George
The new Boss? Same as the old Boss. A thorough examination of
the imperial Yankee who changed managers 20 times in his first
SATURDAY 6/22--FOX NOON--World Bowl X
Expect a one-sided crowd at Dusseldorf's Rheinstadion as the
hometown Rhein Fire tackles the Berlin Thunder in the Super Bowl
of NFL Europe.
SUNDAY 6/23--FOX 2:30 PM--Dodge/Save Mart 350
Pinot Noir meets Petty; NASCAR invades the Sears Point Raceway
in Sonoma, Calif., for the first of only two road races on the
Winston Cup circuit.
MONDAY 6/24--TNT 7 AM
Can England save Pete Sampras? With a Grand Slam drought of
nearly 24 months and a ranking that's fallen to No. 13 in the
world, Sampras returns to his home away from home. The
seven-time Wimbledon champ has gone 56-2 here since 1993.
TUESDAY 6/25--TBS 7 PM--Braves at Mets
The flammable John Rocker may be gone, but this National League
East rivalry always has the potential for fireworks.
TUESDAY 6/25--HBO 10 PM--Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
The safety of aluminum bats is examined, along with the rapid
growth of cheerleading as a scholarship sport.
WEDNESDAY 6/26--TNT 7:30 PM--NBA Draft
The start of a Ming Dynasty? The Rockets will most likely take
China's 7'5" center Yao Ming first overall (page 89). More drama
comes at No. 7 when the Knicks pick before the rowdy draftniks
at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
--Fox on Clemens
--From a slick pregame highlight reel featuring Subway Series
encounters to spirited exchanges between announcers Joe Buck and
Tim McCarver, Fox's broadcast last Saturday at Shea Stadium was
worthy of the compelling story line on the field. At the start
of the broadcast, Buck and McCarver disagreed as to whether or
not Mets pitcher Shawn Estes would throw at Clemens. (Buck said
Estes had to do it; McCarver said it was too much to ask of
Estes as a struggling, first-year Met.) Then, when Estes did
throw at Clemens, only to miss his target (the pitch went behind
Clemens), McCarver said what many fans were thinking: "Here's a
guy in Shawn Estes who can hit a corner of a 17-inch plate but
can't hit a 240-pound man." Great stuff.
--Despite the insight that Howard David lent to the Monday Night
Football radio booth over the past six years, the news that Marv
Albert will be the play-by-play man on Westwood One/CBS Radio
broadcasts of MNF this season is exciting news. Albert's
enthusiasm was contagious when he worked football for NBC in the
1980s and also when he was the voice of the New York Giants in
the '70s. His teaming with Boomer Esiason and Jim Gray could
make MNF the same kind of must-hear radio it was when Jack Buck
and Hank Stram called games between '78 and '95.
--Tiger Woods wasn't the only big winner at the 102nd U.S. Open.
NBC's Swing-View technology--which gave viewers a slow-motion
panoramic look at a player's swing--proved compelling for casual
fans as well as hard-core golfers in search of instructional
advice. NBC set up 36 cameras behind the 11th tee to produce the
multiple angles. --Richard Deitsch
--BOXED OUT, PAGE 24