Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Things that make me grumpy

Recently, Marie's 8th grade girls basketball team won their division's state championship. It was the first time Wingnut School had ever won a state title of any sort. And what recognition did they get?

Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

Now, I'm not expecting a parade, or a call from the governor (generally only death row inmates want the latter). I mean, this is just 8th grade. But some acknowledgement outside the team (and us proud parents) would be nice.

In the morning announcements, where they routinely read off scores from boys sports (basketball, baseball, jacks, team scrabble) and upcoming chess club matches, were the girls winning the state tournament even mentioned? Nope.

When the boys basketball team vanquished their arch rival, Lockjaw Middle School 34-32, Wingnut put up a banner the next morning and had a pep rally over lunch. The girls beat Lockjaw 63-40, and weren't even mentioned in the announcements. Or school paper. Or PTA bulletin. Or pretty much anything.

The boys finished the season 8-6, their first non-losing season in 8 years (though didn't make the playoffs), and this fact was announced several times on the school's Twitter account, with pictures. The girls were undefeated at 14-0, and then swept the division's playoffs 6-0. The only time the school mentioned them on the Twitter account all year was before the season even started, to show them trying on their newly redesigned jerseys (which the parents paid for).

The sad part is that the people responsible for this sexist ignorance don't even realize what they're doing. It's 3 secretaries and a vice-principal who write up the morning announcements and plan events. The Principal herself doesn't want to be bothered with such trivial things.

I called and complained yesterday, and was told that a banner about the championship would be hung in the gym "sometime over the summer, when maintenance gets a chance." When school isn't in session.

Of course, they're not alone.

A few times each summer I take Marie and drive the few hours to see the nearest WNBA team play. I think the games are great. Personally, I'd say they're as exciting and competitive as the NBA, with a lot more teamwork and fewer ego conflicts. If you enjoy basketball, and haven't seen a WNBA game, I'd go.

But the same issues are there. The arena is maybe half-full, in spite of the quality of the play. Maybe Americans, by nature, just don't care about women's sports. For a country that often tries to pride itself on equality, women's basketball is far more popular elsewhere. The vast majority of WNBA players work year-round, playing here in the Summer and overseas the rest of the year to earn a living.

Not to mention salaries. In the NBA, pretty much the league minimum is $900,000 per year. And that goes to the guy who rides the bench all season.

In the WNBA? One of the league's biggest stars, Diana Taurasi, makes... $107,000 a year. While certainly not a small amount, Ms. Taurasi is actually taking the 2015 season off from her WNBA team to play in Russia for $1.5 million. And who can blame her?

It's sad to see that, at age 13, my daughter is already learning how much the accomplishments of a talented group of young women can mean. Which is, apparently, not much.


Anonymous said...

Congrats, Marie & the team from Wingnut! Maybe the parents should get together & do what the school should be doing! As a former teacher I find the school "policy" disgusting! And if many of these girls are 8th graders they won't see the banner since they'll be @ the HS in the Fall! So sad!

Powers said...

I completely agree.

My college's hockey teams both made the NCAA tournament this year. For the men, big viewing party in the arena. For the women: nada.

Though, to be fair, the women's game wasn't on TV; it was streamed online only. And other than the viewing party, the college promoted both equally.

But the local media -- no such luck. They had daily stories on the men's team in the week leading up to the tournament, while the women had virtually nothing in the week leading up to theirs.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the winners!

I had the same experience in high school, although it was many years ago. The parents' athletic support group had lobbied for cheerleaders to be at all of the boys' events, not just football and basketball as was the tradition. And so they were. I was a swimmer. We didn't see a single pom-pom on the deck of that pool; we actually came out at the mid-event break and led our own cheers, because that was the only way we were going to get that kind of support. So, thanks for nothing, high school.

The good news: It only takes about one or two of these events in your life before you get totally fed up with these idiots, and it spurs you on to make something of your life. Half of the people who got all the glory in high school are still living in their home towns and going to the football or basketball games every Friday and never leaving their comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

How sad. Marie (and teammates) isn't the only one learning a bad lesson. A school is learning that girls don't matter. What are the long term ramifications of that (ramifications that don't stop at Wingnut Elementary)? I agree that the parents should step in with the celebration - but I hope they are also joining you in complaining. I hope that the coach has also complained. Enough complaints to the principal (not the in-betweens) might yield some action. I would also consider things like letters to the editor and op-ed pieces - especially if done by the team itself. Public shaming still gets results.

Loki said...

Congrats to Marie and her teammates!

For the rest of it - I only wish I could claim that you were mistaken in your observations.

Carolyn said...

Congrats Marie and the Wingnuts!!! It's horrible the girls aren't being given the recognition they not only deserve but have EARNED! It's bad enough when whole sports are ignored (our championship marching band was ignored and our winless football team celebrated) or competition is unfair (or swim team was small so they made us swim co-ed ... yeeeeeah ... not a whole lot of first place finishes when you are the only girl entered in the event against a bunch of guys), but ignoring the accomplishment of Marie's team is pretty gross - I really hate that she and her teammates had to see this ugliness in place of celebration.

Unrelated note ... good friend was just diagnosed with Guillain-Barre ... after the 36th hour of being awake keeping him company in the hospital until family could arrive I was getting through by imagining the neuro consult they were sending might be you!!! It wasn't ... but in those slap-happy early AM moments, possibly meeting my favorite neurologist with a blog was getting me through! LOL

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Marie and the Wingnuts! I guess I'm blessed to live in an area where girls get recognized for their accomplishments equally with the boys. Our varsity high girls recently won their division state championship and I'm proud to say they got the same welcome home parade, complete with police/fire truck escort and 2/3 of the town/county residents lining the streets screaming and cheering like lunatics that the football team got when they won state in 2011. But we're pretty rural, and about all we have to look forward to is high school sports.

stacey said...

When I was in high school(years ago) I noticed that the local newspaper only wrote up stories about the boys baseball team, but not our girls' softball team that often played at the same time. I called the newspaper to complain. They said they didn't have enough reporters to cover everything, and of course, only covered what they felt was the most important, with what they had. So at the age of 15 I offered to write up the results of each of our games. They said YES! I was thrilled. They even paid me 10 bucks a story. This was back in the days where I used a typewriter and mailed in my copy to the newspaper. They faithfully sent a check for every story and I got the full byline. So, complain, draw attention to it, make some noise, ,make some signs that everyone will notice (signs like HEY WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE GIRLS' TEAM???)or.. HEY, DON'T MAKE ME GET ALL TITLE IX ON YOU.... ... You never know where it may lead. And I'm still writing!

Packer said...

I have never held that acknowledging your talent and your achievement in any way shape or form diminishing my talents , worth or achievements. Therefore I readily compliment and celebrate with you. My talents may differ, but your achievement do not lessen me. I am only lessened if I can't see that fact and hug you in your victory.Unfortunately , I believe that others in pettiness can not bring themselves to do that. Congratulations Ladies, may the wonderful memory be etched on your life forever.

Anonymous said...

An email directly to the principal pointing out the disparity between how the boys and girls were treated, and pondering whether it would be worth your trouble to ask an attorney if such actions constitute a Title IX violation, would likely get a lot of attention in a hurry. The custodial staff wouldn't have to find time to hang the banner over the summer, because the principal would make time to hang it herself that very day.

I remember 7th grade shop class. Whenever a boy needed to learn to use a new tool, the teacher showed him how to use it. When I asked to be taught how to use the router, the teacher said, "Get one of the boys to teach you how to use it." A phone call from my father asking if the district intended to fund my college via a Title IX lawsuit had the teacher bending over backwards to make sure he taught me how to use any tool I wanted.

Congratulations Marie & team!

mary said...

Oh yes, the wonderful world of girls sports teams. I remember it well. I realized things hadn't changed when I saw our local hardware store put up a sign congratulating the boys tennis team for 2nd place in a tournament but didn't mention the girls cross country team winning the regional State meet.

Ms. Donna said...

Go Marie!!! Go Wingnuts!

Marie, you are learning an important lesson -- Women have to be 5X better than a male to get recognition.

Fortunately, that is not hard. (Sorry, guys)

It hurts, however. Know that your dad has noticed the problem and it has bugged him as well. This blatant discrimination (yes, that is what it is) bothers many, male and female alike.

So people are talking about it, and sometimes, things get changed.

Be faster and smarter than the guys (at your age this is easy as most are thinking with things other than the brain). And keep on doing.

I won't say things get better, that is a cliche, but if you keep up you will find a good spot for yourself.

Then haul up another young woman.

Anonymous said...

This is part of preparing females for their 'correct' role in our society. Any one who dislikes this need to register to vote and vote in each and every election every time keeping this issue of women's and human equality in mind.
Changing this situation is going to be hard and painful.
Further: be alarmed that state legislatures without strong medical evidence are going to be telling you what to tell your patients about their health even when that means not telling the truth. IF you are ethical this means medical professionals are going to need to VOTE at the polls.

Moose said...

Congratulations to Marie and her team.

Keep fighting. Keep making noise. Overcoming this crap is something we all need to fight for. It's an overwhelming problem in almost all women's sports.

Yeah, it's sports; it's not saving the universe. But when society ignores and degrades one group, it's a reflection on all of society. All kids need good self-esteem to grow and become successful. This is how you prune a girl's growth.

(My 'I'm not a robot' is dancing.)

jwg said...

Maybe it's time the girls learned a little about activism. A trip to speak at a school board meeting, a letter to the local paper, a little picketing before school, and of course a call to the state Title IX person might have some effect and the girls would learn a valuable lesson to boot.

Anonymous said...

I never knew the 3 secretaries and the female principal could be members of the evil patriarchy. /sarc

Marie and her team-mates have a perfect example of how fellow females may talk about gender equality, female empowerment, and all the other progressive values, but when it comes time for action, they will be AWOL. Too many women will undercut, backstab and do everything they can to sabotage another woman's achievements. They look on success as a zero sum game, and if any other female succeeds, then they personally have somehow failed. They have no understanding of how being supportive and a team mate actually increases all their success. That celebrating another woman's achievements is good for her too. Marie and her team mates will hopefully learn that lesson, unfortunately too many "mean girls" and "queen bees" never will.

Elli said...

Thirty-five years ago it was like this. I thought it had changed.

Tsunoba said...

Congrats, Marie! I know it's hard to accept that a lot of people are going to be jerks without even realizing it. And some people are going to be jerks on purpose, simply because they actually are jerks.

You just have to keep going, and remember that you're doing this for yourself. And if you're doing something for other people instead, and they don't appreciate it, then remember why it is you chose to do it for them. As long as you were working toward that goal (and *especially* if you reach or exceed that goal), their opinion doesn't really matter.

(Unless their opinions are positive. You should totally soak up the good opinions like a sponge.)

Bobbi said...

Congrats, Marie and the Wingnuts! (Hmm, that could be a good band name.)

And kudos to commenter Stacey Gordon! May a whole generation of girls adopt you as a role model.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a wonderful achievement, girls! Way to go--and go, and go all season!! A lot of continued and excellent effort, talent, and dedication went into winning this! (Along with parental Dad, it's time to write a letter to the editor, or whatever.)

I did not realize this about women's basketball. I never was involved, well, come to think of it, I was in high school pep band. I don't remember playing for the girls EVER, come to think of it, but that was 40 years ago and just a few years before girls could take shop classes.

My father had six daughters (and two sons). He was a schoolteacher and coached, too, starting in late 50s with jr high boys (basketball, football), but wound up coaching sex-free (what's PC terminology, here?) skiing and biking teams. He was never more proud than when my sister won a prize for diving, and brothers won prizes in x-country and wrestling, and both his daughter and son attempted Denali among other conquests.

One brother, an athlete and school teacher competed at the Olympic level in marathons, biathlon (shooting, skiing, biking, swimming), and a sister was a mountain climber and member of ski patrol. My brother still participates and coaches skiing, running, shooting (as a very effective treatment alternative for ADHD, I might add).

The saying in Alaska in the early 80s? It used to be "Alaska, where men are men and women win the Iditarod".

Marie, you go, girl!! Make a stink! (For the girls coming up behind you!) We women have a little bit of a heavier road to travel than others because society says we not only have to be good at what we do, but beautiful while doing it. There isn't too much going on in public media still today that dispels that image, and there continue to be other factors that undermine acknowledging athletic success for women.

Anonymous said...

welcome to feminism... it's really not because we like shouting. Congrats to Marie. She (and her team) rocks

EBz said...

Great job Marie and girls!

Dr. Grumpy, if you revise what you wrote on your blog and send a formal letter to the school, the school board, and the newspaper, I'm sure that something will happen in regards to this momentous accomplishment. It's one thing to ignore a phone call or even an email, it's another thing to receive a letter spelling out the severe discriminatory differences between the girls' and the boys' teams as you did.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Marie and her teammates. I played sports starting in 7th grade through high school and this was back in the 60's. We received letters but the only way we could get a 'letterman's jacket' was if we were dating a letterman.
This is one reason why I object to taxpayers having to pay for professional sports stadiums. Why should MY taxes be taken from me to pay for multi-millionares to play in buildings owned by multi-billionaires who are all males? The only women in those stadiums are working as cleaners, ushers or selling hotdogs at the food stands.

Jen in Cincy said...

Thanks for talking about this, doc. Obviously young women's accomplishments do mean a lot, and could mean more - but more awareness is needed.

As the mother of a 13 year old girl on a competitive dance team I watch competitions where girls (often FAR younger than mine!) are incredible dancers/gymnasts - and yet they frequently wear revealing, sexy, costumes and incorporate suggestive and, occasionally, lewd moves into their routines. I am put off by the fact that this is the guidance they are getting from women they look up to (coaches/choreographers/instructors), with their parents' approval and encouragement. They are learning to seek attention for their looks rather than for their skill - because these girls are REALLY talented athletes!

But while this, and the general lack of equity in men's vs. women's sports, are discouraging, as parents you & I are doing the right things: praising our daughters for their accomplishments; seeking out positive, strong female role models; and talking openly with them and with others about the injustices that continue to go on. If making noise is all we can do, well, we do have pretty big mouths..... :)

Anonymous said...

Please send this blog entry to (at least) the local paper - cc to the uncaring principal.

Women's sports aren't considered important because they aren't considered important. No, that's not a typo. We teach people that women's sports aren't news by not making them news.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a huge congrats to Marie and her team! But also a huge thank you to you Dr. Grumpy! If only we grew up in a society where all of the fathers cherished their daughters like you do and knew that the girls deserved just as much recognition, praise, accolades, etc. as the boys. Perhaps if the world had more dads like you we would live in a world with a lot less sexism (and racism and homophobia and the list goes on). You should hold information sessions on how to be a father for all men who have children or are considering having children. Ok? Thanks!

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