? John Roberts, the executive secretary of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, says many coaches of boys' teams in his state are worried about the increased interest in girls' sports. "The facilities thing will get worse," says one of Roberts' colleagues. "Girls haven't figured out yet how to use the urinals."
THE DOUBLE STANDARD
?Last summer a steward at Ellis Park in Kentucky sought to suspend Jockey Mary Bacon for cursing in the paddock after a losing ride. Said Bacon, "They expect a girl to get off a horse and say, 'Nice horsey, nice horsey,' like in National Velvet. Well, I get mad like everyone else. If I lost a race and didn't cuss, then the stewards might have something to worry about."
?When asked why only women were permitted to coach girls' teams, Ada Mae Warrington, director of physical education for women in the Prince George's County (Md.) school system, said, "We have had several instances of a girl assaulting a man. We are trying to protect our coaches."
?In 1971, after a lengthy argument with the New York State Education Department, Katy Schilly was permitted to run on the Paul V. Moore High School cross-country team. After the decision was made, an elaborate security system was set up to protect her. Among other things, a woman had to be present whenever the runner was in her locker room. "Maybe they're afraid I'll slip on a bar of soap in the shower," said Schilly.
Prudery is a major factor contributing to the present low estate of women's sports. This hangup cannot be blamed on our Victorian or Puritan ancestors. Early in this century there was widespread participation by girls in competitive athletics. Baseball, bike racing and track and field were popular pastimes for girls. Basketball was played extensively, and often girls' games were scheduled as doubleheaders with boys' contests. Then in 1923, a national committee of women headed by Mrs. Herbert Hoover was formed to investigate the practice of holding such doubleheaders. The committee was shocked to find girls wearing athletic costumes performing before crowds that included men. Mrs. Hoover and her friends believed the girls were being used as a come-on and that the practice was disgraceful and should be stopped. State after state followed the advice and either abolished all girls' sports or made them so genteel as to be almost unrecognizable as athletic contests.
"When I went to college in the '30s, we were taught that competition was dirty," recalls Betty Desch, head of the women's physical education department of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Those states that had retained any girls' athletic programs declared that teams should be coached only by women, or else who knows what might transpire. The requirement, still in effect in many states, has stifled the development of competent female athletic programs. While there is no evidence that women cannot be as good coaches as men, it is a fact that there are very few good women coaches. There are obvious reasons for this. Few girls in high school or college have had the same competitive opportunities as men, so they are seldom inspired to take up coaching as a career. Also, few colleges allow girls to take courses in coaching techniques and theory. Where they can attend such classes, there has been little point in doing so, since once a girl graduates she finds few coaching jobs available, and those that are available pay poorly or not at all. When a school needs a coach for a girls' team, the usual practice is to draft a woman from the physical education department for the job. Through no fault of her own, she rarely has much expertise or enthusiasm for coaching competitive athletics. In consequence, girls in her charge do not learn fundamental techniques, skills and seldom become excited about athletics. Thus the vicious circle is continued.
THE SAME OLD STORY
The following letter appeared not long ago in
The Washington Post
"Your editorial, 'Growing Up by the Book' (Dec. 1), revealed the harmful effects of stereotyped sex roles in children's books and toys. But it seems that
The Washington Post
is extending this same discrimination to its sports pages.