Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A step in the right direction for gender equity in youth sports

Score one for advocates of gender equity in athletics.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed into law a measure forcing all school districts in the state to file reports on athletic programs, including how much money is spent on each sport and who is participating. Georgia, Kentucky and New Mexico are the only other states that have this requirement, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

By making its findings public, Pennsylvania citizens can actively monitor whether girls and boys are receiving their fair share of resources in the athletic domain. In the Inquirerarticle, there was talk about this law adding another cost to school districts that are hurting financially.

While this could be true, there is no excuse for one set of athletes to receive the finest equipment or play in top venues while another set is given substandard treatment.

That said the financial fears are real. An excellent articlewritten by my former classmate Jeff Frantz describes this well. “This coming fight for a chance to participate won’t be about boys vs. girls, but rich vs. poor, foul shots vs. full-day kindergarten.”

Some school districts may eliminate sports or for those that may keep athletics, students might have to pay extra fees to play. Undoubtedly the latter will disproportionately hurt lower-income students, who often are racial minorities.

The battle of equity in sports must encompass keeping athletics viable in schools and available to young people regardless of wealth.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

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