Dream Chasers & Dream Breakers
I’m sitting at my desk looking at posts, and I run across these two teenage girls who have started their own business. The idea was awesome, but the willingness to take a shot impressed me most. I shared the post and, for the first time, I offered to use my Facebook page to promote someone. I don’t recall what made me realize this, but I soon realized that one of the girls was the daughter of Jennifer, a friend of mine from years gone by. You probably already know that I’m tickled to death when I find an old friend on Facebook, and that’s especially true when it’s a friend whom I was always so fond of.
At the age the girls were, it didn’t take long for them to grow up. School requirements and a more steady job become essential. Enter: the next kid in line; Maci Taylor (pictured). Maci has her own volleyball page and Jennifer didn’t have to ask me twice to promote her. I am a high school sports fanatic, and I’m just as interested in girls’ volleyball as I am in football. Following her athletic escapades would be fun, and I genuinely wanted her to succeed. But that’s not going to be easy. If you think business and government are run by men, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you take a hard look at sports.
Regardless of political opinions, you must admit that sports organizations and governing bodies are the first to stand up for what they feel to be right. But as a long time fan of girls’ amateur sports, I instinctively question their sincerity. Although I’m fairly young, I can easily recall the years that girls were relegated to a small handful of sports with “special” rules for girls, little if any press coverage, and no championships. Title XI put a stop to some of the discrimination, but not all.
Some of the “special” rules still in place include tennis matches being best of 3 instead of best of 5. Added to that now is the rule requiring girls to use a smaller basketball, which I think is a good rule. One of the rules that has thankfully been removed is not allowing girls to play full court basketball. Up until Title XI, girls played 6-on-6; 3 on offense, 3 on defense, no one crosses mid court. Most conferences did not have post season games for girls, and there were no state championships. Some schools didn’t even have teams.
With Title XI came dissent. People argued that men were the money makers and therefore should have more scholarships, television coverage and press coverage. Even when Title XI became law, purist were able to retain those three things. But there was one big name who refused to take part. John Wooden was the greatest men’s coach in NCAA history, but preferred to watch the women play. While men tended to show off, Wooden noted that the women’s game was more fundamentally sound. They played the game the way it was supposed to be played, in it’s purest form.
Today, girls and women are recognized as athletes. Additionally, cheerleaders have finally taken their place in competitive sports. But some things haven’t changed, and they may be getting worse. In basketball, NCAA seeding for the men are a heavily advertised national event with specific rules that even include shipping replica floors to the host team. If a state makes a law that the NCAA finds unfriendly or discriminating, they ban that state from hosting games. But the women? Their tournament is sloppily compiled and adjustments are made in the women’s schedule to accommodate the men’s tournament.
In high school, it’s worse. We’re lucky in Henderson to have had a newspaper that recognized girls light years before the North Carolina High School Athletic Association did. But we’re the exception. Most newspapers have little if anything to say about girls sports and some don’t even report the scores. And how many times have you seen girl’s highlights on the local television news?
There are some moves being considered today in college and high school that people need to keep an eye on. The NCHSAA has teamed up with MaxPreps, a web site that specializes in tracking the careers of notable recruits…all are male. Everything from rankings to seeding to television rights are involved. In college sports, it has been suggested that women be confined to playing in separate conferences than men, grouped only with local schools. In other words, while UNC’s men travel to Notre Dame and Miami, the women’s team will travel instead to Elon and Davidson. Will it save money? Sure it will. It will save more if you enforce the rule equally on men and women. Why should the women have to do without so the men can live the life of luxury?
You may think it’s fair, but are you willing to look Maci in the eye and say “You don’t deserve it because you’re a girl”? I’m not. In fact, I’m willing to fight for her right to have dreams.
Maci is like a lot of young female athletes; she works hard, she does her school work, she maintains her family obligations and she contributes to charitable causes. Not only does she deserve to have her dreams, she deserves the right to chase her dreams. It is my hope for her that she will get that chance the same as anyone else.
I want to see it happen. I want to see her succeed, in sports and in life. I want to see women’s rights activists stand up and say “Enough!”. Because little girls dream too.