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Do you remember Brandy Chastain? That’s her at the right.
Remember, in 1999? Women’s Soccer finals against China? She nailed the fifth penalty kick to clinch the win, whipped off her jersey in what she has since described as a moment of temporary insanity, and demonstrated for the world what was for some the new concept of a “sports bra”?
Brought the whole country together? Role model for girls everywhere? Instilling a sense of pride in athletic accomplishment? That sort of thing?
Remember? Sure you do.
Something else drove her to want to scream yesterday — although she managed to stifle it — and it was from right here in Orange County.
On Monday, May 14, the California Assembly recognized the 40th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX — there are lots of parts of legislation named Title IX, but only one that, like Cher or Roseanne, doesn’t need a full name — of the Federal Education Act. This is the bill that created modern girls’ athletics as we know it. It simply states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
It’s just a few words, but it’s a big deal. Without Title IX, the tendency of educational institutions was to load on more and more boys’ teams and limit themselves to a few token girls’ teams, if that. With Title IX, an increasing number of girls have gotten involved in athletics. Opportunities for boys to pick a sport still abound, but some smaller sports programs have, unfortunately, been cut. Still, if a boy wants to be an athlete, it’s the rare one that can’t be.
What Title IX has done, though, is to change girls’ sense of themselves. We have a culture that sexualizes young girls early and puts a premium on their ability to attract boys. It’s one thing where sexual attraction is one among many bases for self-esteem among girls; it’s another thing when it’s the only or the primary basis. Participation in sports has led women to greater academic accomplishments, greater discipline, greater control over their own lives, and greater ability to withstand domestic abuse and pressures towards having sex too early. It’s an important part of equality for girls — and for women.
Fullerton Assemblyman Chris Norby hates it — and he’s not shy about saying so, even in front of women like Brandi Chastain. Our man Norby made the Soccer News:
Women’s Premier Soccer League stars Brandi Chastain and Sissi of the California Storm, along with WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli, were in the audience on Monday, May 14, when the California Assembly recognized the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Federal Education Amendment of 1972. While the overall amendment made no specific mention of athletics, Title IX has long been used to provide female athletes with an equal opportunity to participate relative to male athletes in both high school and college sports. Unfortunately, as was made clear, not everyone supports the impact of Title IX….
According to an AP report carried in the Washington Post, “If Brandi Chastain could have cried foul, she would have,” when Assemblyman Chris Norby of Fullerton got up to criticize Title IX for what he saw as its negative effects on male athletes. Norby complained that the legislation had never been intended to deny men the opportunity to play sports, but has been blamed for cutting many men’s programs in the name of “equality.”
Chastain, who was the recipient of a Title IX scholarship that allowed her to play soccer at the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Clara University, visibly winced when Norby made his comments. She attempted to respond, but was unable to because the procedure of resolutions does not allow for public response.
While Assemblyman Norby had his reservations about the effects of Title IX, several other legislators spoke up to defend the law that has been used to move toward equality between men’s and women’s sports. One Assemblyman gave the disparity between baseball and softball fields at his daughter’s high school as an example of continued problems, while another admitted that he had harbored reservations until the birth of his daughter.
Let’s savor Norby’s statement again for a moment:
Norby complained that the legislation had never been intended to deny men the opportunity to play sports, but has been blamed for cutting many men’s programs in the name of “equality.”
Yes, boys’ and men’s programs have been cut — but boys and men are not denied “the opportunity to play sports.” They may not be able to play on a minor sport at school — or in some cases even a major one that requires a large squad, like football — but if Norby can produce a single boy or man who can’t “play sports” at all due to funding of women’s athletics, let him produce him.
And yes, it’s “in the name of equality.” Women pay taxes just like men do. What supposed principle demands that they not derive an equal share of the money slated for athletics among schools receiving federal funds? Is this a “Norby doesn’t enjoy watching women’s sports on TV” sort of thing?
Norby’s principle that equality in funding is somehow suspect is very interesting. Perhaps it can be an issue for Norby to raise in his campaign against Sharon Quirk-Silva — who is, if I recall, a supporter of girl’s athletics — next month and this fall. I wondered for a moment whether this might be part of Norby’s campaign against Quirk-Silva, a way to distinguish himself. If that’s how he plans to campaign, tearing down his opponent’s groups, then I’m just glad that he’s not running against a blogger. There are a lot fewer of us than there are women.
Update: Quirk-Silva isn’t done taking Norby on over this. She just released this open letter:
May 17, 2012
I am writing because I am frustrated about those in power who would still deny the rights of others who seek equality and a level playing field.
Earlier this week, my opponent for State Assembly, Chris Norby, launched an assault on Title IX during the adoption of a resolution to honor the 40th anniversary of the legislation. Title IX was implemented in 1972 to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program, including sports, which receives Federal financial assistance. Mr. Norby complained that Title IX resulted in the abolition of many male sports and reduced opportunities for men.
According to AP News reports, I was not the only one disturbed by these remarks. Brandi Chastain, who scored the game-winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, was on hand for the proceedings. Upon hearing Norby’s remarks, AP News reported that “Chastain visibly bristled at Norby’s remarks” and raised her hand to try to interject. But she was denied the chance to give a rebuttal because resolutions do not have public hearings.
As someone who benefited from Title IX as a high school athlete and has witnessed the transformation of women’s access to sports over the past generation, I am struck by how out of touch Mr. Norby appears to be on this issue. Since Title IX was passed in 1972, participation in sports by girls and women has increased by 545% at the college level and by 979% in high schools.
But there is still much work to be done. The gap between male and female athletic participation at the high school level has grown, female college athletes continue to receive fewer NCAA opportunities and athletic scholarships, and there is still tremendous inequity in resources at the high school level for girls sports equipment, uniform and facilities.*
We must continue to support our daughters and young women to ensure they have the same opportunities to pursue their passions as their male counterparts. I am thankful to have the endorsement of so many organizations who work hard to support women and girls in our society, including National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus, Women In Leadership and Planned Parenthood.
Will you please help me in my efforts to be elected to Assembly to bring better representation to all the constituents of the 65th Assembly District regardless of gender? Please contribute $10, $25 or whatever you can to help my campaign reach voters throughout the district in the months ahead.
*Source: Womens Sports Foundation
Honestly, I don’t know that the “caveman” act is going to sell in the parts of Norby’s district that weren’t already used to him — and that’s a big chunk of the district.