ESPN Report: sexism and homophobia causes sharp decline in Female Sports Coaching since title IX

From ESPN:

“Over the past four decades, the number of female college athletes has soared, but the percentage of female coaches has plummeted. In 1972, when Title IX was passed, women coached more than 90 percent of women’s teams. By 1978, that number had already dipped to 58.2 percent. This year, it’s down to 42.9 percent, according to the most recent survey by Brooklyn College professors emerita R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter. That figure has hardly budged over the past six years.

But while some experts may consider this holding pattern a victory, the raw numbers say otherwise. Since 2000, NCAA programs have added 1,774 women’s head coaching jobs. Men have filled 1,220 of the openings.

Women have entered the rest of the workforce at all levels and now make up 57 percent of college students. Sports are bigger than ever for them too, with an average of 8.73 women’s teams per school.

And yet female coaches continue to be sidelined. Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer is only half-joking when she says, “We’ll have a female president — and one woman coaching women’s college basketball.”

It’s not as if women are finding new opportunity in the men’s game: Only about 3 percent of men’s teams are coached by women, the same percentage as before Title IX’s passage.”

On Homophobia:

“Homophobia has haunted women’s sports throughout the Title IX era, forcing coaches to stay closeted for fear of losing their jobs, or at least recruits. In some quarters, coaches have been known to signal quietly to prospects or their parents that a competing program is run by a lesbian, in an effort to turn the recruit away.

To this day, there is only one out lesbian coach in Division I basketball, Portland State’s Sherri Murrell. In a 2009 paper on negative recruiting, Carroll and Pat Griffin, of the Women’s Sports Foundation, wrote, “The psychological toll of silence, denial and secrecy results in a climate of fear and hostility that many lesbian, gay and bisexual coaches endure in order to pursue their profession. Others simply choose to leave the profession.”

It’s not only established coaches who check out. Former players often decide the hassle isn’t worth it. Two former collegiate stars, Sue Wicks of Rutgers and Abby Conklin of Tennessee, told ESPN The Magazine in 2011 that homophobia still casts a wide shadow over the sidelines. In the same story, former WNBA star Kate Starbird stressed that she wouldn’t consider coaching because she refused to be closeted. “I didn’t want to live my life that way,” she said.”

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2 comments on “ESPN Report: sexism and homophobia causes sharp decline in Female Sports Coaching since title IX

  1. I’ve played a lot of sports over the years, having been trained in them since the cradle. Baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football (American), ice hockey, gymnastics, swimming, diving, skating. I shined in track and field and held the girls’ record in sprinting. I also did boxing, wrestling and hold a black belt in marital arts. I even tried fencing. I played on teams in school – primary, middle school, high school, college. I’ve also played in leagues. Other than my gym teachers, I don’t think I’ve ever had a teacher/coach who was female. All of my coaches were male. So it’s really nothing new. I think it has a lot to do with coaching being a paid position. If it’s a paid position, the position is handed to males. Society still thinks women’s labor should be free. And if she’s a lesbian, it’s even worse. Society fears lesbians as mentors. Society seems to think homosexuality is contagious and fears girls will want to be like their mentors and will cease to be sexually available to men. And then the sky will fall. On men, anyhow. Religions also play a big part. There are 3 billion Christians on the planet and 2 billion Muslims. Homosexuality is condemned by these religions. It would not be wise to underestimate how great an influence these religions have on our society and what it means for us who are Lesbian.

  2. So many people love to talk about how Title IX *exists*. Yes, it exists, but what does that mean to us? A full 80% of schools are not in compliance with Title IX and the federal government has never brought a single enforcement action against a school for violating it. This puts the onus on college aged women to not only recognize the illegality of their college sport experiences but also to have the resources to pursue it. The government is apparently not concerned with doing any monitoring or enforcing of its own. Meanwhile women coaching positions are being overtaken by men.
    A big part of the problem, I believe, is that while Title X theoretically guarantees monetary equality and integration in educational facilities (ie. women no longer go to women’s colleges or have sex segregated classrooms) sports fields remain segregated. Separate is not equal in sports.
    More of my research here:

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