By KATIE THOMAS
Community colleges are routinely failing to provide enough athletic opportunities to women.
(For my puzzled foreign readers, I'll point out that nobody in America cares about community college [2-year or junior college] sports. Americans are crazy about high school, college [4-year university], and pro sports, but nobody cares about JuCo sports, except the guys playing them and a few recruiters looking for superstars who were too much trouble (Cam Newton) or too young (Bryce Harper) to be playing college sports.)
Los Angeles Southwest College has a new athletic field house and football stadium, but almost no female athletes.
Women make up more than two-thirds of students at this community college in the city’s South Central neighborhood, but less than a quarter of its athletes. The college’s decision to suspend the track team this year left women who wanted to play a sport with a single option: basketball.
I'm shocked to hear that a bunch of Latino and black ladies in their 20s and 30s, many with kids and/or jobs, who are interested in, say, learning how to draw blood for a living, aren't really into women's polevaulting. (For an example of the type of young woman who is into women's polevaulting, think back to the rich, athletic family in the Sandra Bullock movie The Blind Side who adopts the homeless left tackle so he can play for their alma mater, the U. of Mississippi. Remember, dad was point guard for Ole Miss and mom was head cheerleader. Well, their daughter went on to be Mississippi state high school girl's pole vault champion and won a polevaulting scholarship to a four year college.)
Perhaps the NYT can shed light on this mystery:
Henry Washington, the college’s athletic director and head football coach, acknowledges that his program is most likely violating federal law by failing to offer enough roster spots to women. But he said many of the female students are also juggling jobs and child care, and do not have time to play sports. Then there is the question of money. “I just keep my fingers crossed that we can keep what we have,” he said.
Pensacola State College in Florida has suffered through its share of budget cuts, and athletic officials have long faced the thorny question of how much interest there is at a college that devotes an entire campus to health sciences programs, where students tend to be older, overwhelmingly female and, supposedly, less eager to play sports.
But there is no shortage of women playing sports at Pensacola. The college invests about $1 million a year in the athletics program, and coaches scour the state and beyond for talented female players. The women’s basketball team won the state championship this year. ...
No one disputes that community colleges face distinct challenges, with a lack of money paramount. But Pensacola, one of the rare exceptions among community colleges, offers evidence that the demands of the law can be met.
... In many ways, Los Angeles Southwest’s struggles — and Pensacola’s success — echo the conversations that took place decades ago at elite four-year colleges and major public universities.
“People who say they can’t find students who are interested or they can’t recruit, it sounds very much like what I heard 30 years ago, 40 years ago in the 1970s,” said Carol Kashow, the athletic director at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. “That’s the reason for Title IX, so there can’t be an excuse to not give opportunities.”
But community colleges have rarely been scrutinized. That may change as an influx of recent high school graduates have entered community colleges, seeing them as an affordable alternative to four-year universities. This shift in the student body — already majority female — could lead to heightened demands from students who could well expect and even legally demand the opportunity to participate in sports.
"Could lead" -- in other words, decades of millions of women in JuCos hasn't yet led. But, it still could lead ...
Or, more likely, the demands will come from a handful of lesbian gym coaches looking for sinecures.
“While some of our states and regions have seen the handwriting on the wall, many are still sitting in the dark,” Karen Sykes, a former president of the National Junior College Athletic Association, warned officials at a meeting several years ago. Sykes said “it was only a matter of time” before community colleges would come under scrutiny for their shortcomings.
Because community colleges have a mandate to educate all comers, they have a special obligation to offer women a legitimate shot at playing sports, said Jaime Lester, an assistant professor at George Mason University who has studied gender issues at community colleges. “It’s crucial to hold these democratic institutions — these bastions of people’s colleges — up to that level of scrutiny,” Lester said. “If we don’t hold them up, why should we hold anyone else up?”
Henry Washington has served as athletic director at Los Angeles Southwest College for 27 years, and each year, he said, women’s basketball faces the same challenge: the team starts out with a roster of 12 players only to dwindle to five or six by the end of the season.
“Sometimes they’re not motivated, they may have a child,” he said. “There are all kinds of obstacles that are getting in the way of trying to even keep teams.”
It is a common refrain among athletic directors at community colleges: women, they say, do not sign up for sports. While the economic recession has expanded the pool of traditional-age students, men and women who attend community colleges do not fit the typical mold of student-athletes. They tend to be older, and almost half of all community college students work more than 25 hours a week, according to federal education statistics.
But federal statistics show few differences between the men and women who attend these colleges: the men work, too, and tend not to be any younger.
And yet the men, despite similar hardships or responsibilities, still manage to play sports in significant numbers.
[Please note: No answers to this question other than Sexism / Discrimination are allowed.]
Even Washington, the Los Angeles Southwest athletic director, said he did not accept the excuse that women at his college and others like it were not interested in sports. “One thing I did learn is that if you hire a woman full time to recruit women,” he said, “then the outcome would probably be a little different.”
But because of his college’s financial situation, he said, all of his coaches work part time.
Washington said surveys of local high schools have shown that potential students are interested in playing women’s soccer and softball, but that his plan to add softball had been delayed by budget troubles. California has cut nearly $400 million in aid to community colleges over the past two years, and recently cut another $400 million in financing for the next academic year. The reductions led Los Angeles Southwest to cancel 200 classes over the past two years.
Jack E. Daniels III, the president of Los Angeles Southwest, said he was aware of the need to add women’s teams. But the college’s financial situation is so dire, he is considering eliminating the entire athletic program, which currently costs about $300,000 a year.
“Right now, it’s probably a 50-50 proposition,” Daniels said. The new field house and football stadium were built using bonds approved by voters several years ago, when the economy was flush and “there was no indication of any financial downturn,” he said.
The Los Angeles Times recently ran a six part series on all the corruption and incompetence in spending that $5.7 billion in bonds for remodeling of LA's JuCo campuses.
In many ways, Pensacola fits the profile of a typical community college. ...Still, Pensacola has found a way to preserve sports programs, and women at the moment make up some 56 percent of the college’s athletes.
The athletic budget of $1 million, for example, pays for men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as baseball, softball and women’s volleyball. Many athletes receive scholarships for tuition and books. Some are given housing and stipends for meals.
Hamilton’s coaches visit tournaments across the country, attend camps at four-year colleges and pore over scouting reports. Filling female rosters “isn’t something we do by luck, it’s by design,” Hamilton said.
Brenda Pena, the softball coach, sent her assistant to Colorado in June to recruit at a tournament that drew more than 100 teams nationwide. Although her team finished last in its conference this year, she said, Pensacola has a reputation for fielding strong teams and for helping its students transfer to four-year colleges. As a result, Pena said, she is able to avoid the obstacle of attracting players from an older, less engaged student body by instead recruiting students straight from high school.
And this is helping Florida citizens how?
UPDATE: A reader from Pensacola writes into point out that Pensacola makes its athletic department budget go a long way by putting on a lot of sports, except for football, and using old sports facilities, not building new ones like LA Southwest. Football is expensive, and it's hard to sell many tickets at the juco level to defray costs, so why not skip football and sponsor a bunch of cheaper sports?
As to the recruiting trips to Colorado, I imagine they are more of a networking opportunity more than anything else – 15 of the 17 members of the 2011 softball team are from Florida or surrounding states. ... Finally, it should be mentioned that Pensacola is essentially a small Southern town, with the expected small town obsession with team sports. The area’s only four-year school, the University of West Florida, recently claimed the Division II national championship in baseball, and the area can lay claim to many great athletes, most notably NFL legend Emmit Smith. So a certain amount of civic pride is behind the emphasis on athletics, even at the relatively obscure juco level.
That makes sense: juco women's sports is a relatively cheap way to bring some distinction to your juco.
Of course, the NYT's perspective is that if one juco invests in good women athletes, then that proves that every juco should do it. And that's missing the point entirely, as the diversity mindset so often tends to do because it doesn't think in terms of systems effects. If juco women's athletics was hugely competitive, then it would be hugely expensive to earn some distinction for your juco in women's athletics, so then few could afford to do it.
That's an interesting critique of Kant's categorical imperative: In looking for some way to distinguish itself, organizations should not behave as if what they specialize in should become a universal law.