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The second sex engages in a first
Bil Gilbert
May 21, 1973
It may come as something of a surprise, even to those who consider themselves to be knowledgeable about the sport, but there are now two bona fide national collegiate track and field championships. One, of course, is the annual NCAA title event to be held next month at Louisiana State. The other took place last weekend at California State Hayward. The relative obscurity of the Hayward affair is accounted for by the fact that it was a meet for the other half of the collegiate population, girls. Hayward was the championship of what some malcontented French broad once called the second sex.
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May 21, 1973

The Second Sex Engages In A First

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It may come as something of a surprise, even to those who consider themselves to be knowledgeable about the sport, but there are now two bona fide national collegiate track and field championships. One, of course, is the annual NCAA title event to be held next month at Louisiana State. The other took place last weekend at California State Hayward. The relative obscurity of the Hayward affair is accounted for by the fact that it was a meet for the other half of the collegiate population, girls. Hayward was the championship of what some malcontented French broad once called the second sex.

Beyond the obvious one—the gender of the athletes—the differences between what happened at the AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) championship in Hayward and what will happen at the NCAA championship in Baton Rouge were many and instructive in both athletic and other terms. For one, the names of the schools competing—and not competing—in the women's meet would strike a track buff as curious. Nobody showed up to represent UCLA, Villanova or Tennessee, since these institutions either do not have a female track team or did not want to go to the bother and expense of sending their women to Hayward. Some schools regarded as being major athletic powers—the Oregons, Kansas States, Texas Techs and Minnesotas—did show, but they were minor factors at Hayward. The bullies were such institutions as Cal State L.A., Seattle Pacific, Hayward itself and especially Texas Woman's University, which won the meet.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the AIAW and NCAA championships was in the quality of competition. The NCAA is usually one of the two best meets of the outdoor season (the AAU championship being the other). In a good year a few American records and occasionally a world mark will be approached or broken. The Hayward affair was first rate in terms of facilities and organization, but the performances were relatively poor. For example, this was the first year in which qualifying standards were required. It was also only the second year in which the organization had sponsored a national event and the first that, in respect to athletes (over 350) and schools (61), could be called major. The AIAW standards were far less restricting than those of the women's national AAU championship. Thus to qualify in the AIAW a woman had to have run the 100 in 12.0, while for the AAU she cannot qualify unless she has been clocked in 10.8. In the mile the respective collegiate and AAU standards are 6:00 and 5:00, in the shot 33' and 43'.

The reason for this is not that higher education makes young women soft and slothful. It is that the educational system, which coddles and encourages male athletes, has shown very little interest in females. Competition and training facilities have been all but nonexistent, and only a handful of women have ever received athletic scholarships.

None of the females at Hayward had been recruited and paid to represent their schools. Had they been, they could not have competed because the AIAW has had a rule barring students with athletic scholarships from its championship. (Under threat of a lawsuit from a Florida junior college which wanted to recruit tennis players, the rule was abolished a month ago, but it was still in force at Hayward.)

One effect of the anti-scholarship rule was to keep the best women's track team, Tennessee State, from taking part at Hayward. TSU, which has contributed 30 Olympians during the past 16 years, gives up to 12 scholarships according to Coach Ed Temple.

Since high schools, and especially colleges, have not offered much to women in the way of track and field, girls with a serious interest in the sport have been developed in and through small, private, generally impecunious AAU clubs. This fact of female sporting life was also evident at Hayward. Of the 13 individual events, 11 were won by women who were essentially AAU club competitors who happened to be of college age.

The disparity in talent and experience between the AAU athletes who were also often internationalists (such as Jane Frederick in the pentathlon, Jarvis Scott in the 440, Marilyn King in the long jump, Pam Greene in the 220 and Lynette Matthews in the shot and discus) and the school-trained competitors was considerable. To cite one case, Kathy Sloan, a University of Illinois freshman who ran the mile at Hayward, had no running experience before coming to college. Nevertheless, she had done well in strictly collegiate competition in the Midwest. Though she turned in a personal best of 5:48 she finished far up the track in her heat and did not make the finals.

A notable exception was provided by Texas Woman's University, and the team victory of the Denton girls was especially appropriate under the circumstances. In the first place, it was a women's school winning a women's championship. Also, TWU is for the most part a college team rather than a collection of AAU-trained athletes. A school of some 6,100 women, with strong departments of nursing, health, phys. ed. and recreation, TWU sponsors nine intercollegiate sports for girls. The college also has for a track coach Dr. Bert Lyle, one of the better teachers and technicians for students of either sex, who started the TWU team six years ago.

The AIAW championship, at which TWU rolled up 64 points to 40 for runner-up Cal State Hayward, which scored largely on the performances of three AAU types, showed that Lyle has something besides coaching know-how going for him. In a word, it is talent, and most of it has been home grown. Of the 14-woman squad Lyle brought to Hayward, only two girls, Marilyn McClung and Audrey Reid, were outsiders in the sense that they had track reputations before matriculating. McClung, who has run for the L.A. Track Club, placed fourth in the 440 (behind three other club runners) and ran legs on TWU's winning 440 and mile-relay teams. Reid, the meet's outstanding athlete, is a Jamaican who has taken part in two Olympics and holds the American All-Comers record of 6'�" in the high jump. At Hayward she placed sixth in the 100, third in the 100-meter hurdles, anchored the 440-relay team and won the high jump with a leap of 5'8". "Perhaps I might have been a bit higher," she said, "but I was glad to help the team. Team is very important for us."

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