• Point/counterpoint op-eds are nothing new in journalism, but it’s rather interesting to see Women’s Sports Foundation advocacy director Nancy Hogshead-Makar being given the floor to respond to critical Title IX pieces in two major media outlets last week.
First, she got this full-length reply to Gregg Easterbrook’s heated piece on ESPN.com condemning a federal judge’s ruling against competitive cheerleading being counted as a sport for Title IX purposes at Quinnipiac University. She proceeds with her usual vigorous restatement of predictable WSF talking points and also gets the endorsement of the fair-minded Sports Law Blog to boot.
Over the weekend, the New York Daily News offered Hogshead-Makar ample room to counter sportswriter Ebenezer Samuel’s critical take on Quinnipiac and cheerleading. As in her ESPN.com rebuttal, Hogshead-Makar finished up with the latest cant from the sports feminist community, citing research showing the positive benefits to girls competing in sports.
A couple of things to note here: Why is the representative of a powerful organization whose views are already amply relayed in the media allowed to offer unscheduled rebuttals to the small handful of opinions that take issue with her own stance?
And why aren’t the critics of Title IX enforcement being offered the same chance to reply? Eric McErlain at the College Sports Council countered Hogshead-Makar’s data on that organization’s blog, but his request to rebut a pro-Title IX author this weekend on NPR’s Only A Game program was turned down.
There needs to be a reply to the one-sided interview conducted by host Bill Littlefield with Deborah Brake, whom he does not even identify as a major figure in Title IX activism during her days with the National Women’s Law Center. Instead, they both bemoaned the inability of college athletics directors to “rein in” the very men’s revenue sports that pay the bills for women’s teams.
Nor does he question Brake about a questionable claim in the introduction to her new book, “Getting in the Game,” that Title IX is about more than “place of women in sports” but also “the meaning of gender.” I would have liked to hear her explain what she means by that on the airwaves, but I’ll have to settle for reading the book.
Indeed, there were lots of slow-pitch softballs like that lobbed in Brake’s direction, and that’s the real state of media coverage of women’s sports. And so is this.
Most of the critics are political conservatives, with whom I have little in common. While I admire Christina Hoff Sommers for a number of reasons, her reaction to dubious claims about a lack of coverage of women’s sports have their own shortcomings that I will need to rebut sometime soon.