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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sexism and a Special Dad in Sports

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Even without her baggage, Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race with a bigger challenge than Barack Obama: to win over an electorate that is more comfortable voting for the hypothetical perfect black candidate over the hypothetical perfect woman (94 percent compared to 88 percent, according to a 2007 Gallup Poll).

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From a great Kansas City Star story/blog by Mike Hendricks (let's say it has both hopeful and discouraging elements), just had to share:

Sexism lives beyond the basketball court

When his fellow referee was blocked from officiating a boy’s basketball game on account of her gender, Fred Shockey was disgusted.

It’s 2008, right? says Shockey, who is fond of telling his two daughters, 4 and 11, that they can be whoever they want to be.
So he told St. Mary’s Academy officials to stuff it when they asked him to fill in for the rejected referee, Michelle Campbell.

Then he went to lunch and paid the bill with the $50 that school officials had paid him for officiating two other games that day.
Keep the change, he told the waitress as she collected a $41 tip.

“I told her it was from St Mary’s Academy,” he told me.

Campbell’s forced exit from the basketball court in St. Marys, Kan., two weeks ago has provoked outrage across the nation.

Shades of the Taliban, some said. How dare some obscure religious school impose its backward values on the rest of society?

When I last checked, nearly 300 comments were attached to the on-line version of the story that appeared on the front-page of this newspaper Wednesday. The overwhelming majority condemned school officials for their sexism. Others smirked at the thought of St. Mary’s attempting to keep its boy athletes from being subjected to the authority of a mere woman.

I wonder if these poor boys have to listen to their mothers when they get home, or maybe they just take all their problems to the school administrators to handle,” said a post signed by “Can’t believe it in KC.”

It’s not clear what St. Mary’s administrators are thinking. They’re not talking. But I don’t think they’re doing those boys any favors. When they finally leave that cloistered world, the cop giving them a speeding ticket is as apt to be a woman as a man. Same with the boss who signs their pay checks.

Though in a way, I’d like to believe that the people who run the school did all of us a favor. They reminded us that, in spite of everything, women in this country still have a ways to go.

Oh, sure, the women of today are light years ahead of where their mothers and grandmothers were a generation ago.

Yet it wasn’t all that long ago that newspaper classifieds were still divided between “help wanted-men” and “help wanted-women.”When I was growing up in the ‘60s, female professionals weren’t unheard of, but there sure weren’t many of them.
Boys played varsity sports; girls were encouraged to try out for the pep squad.

In the decades since, a lot has changed. Title IX saw to it that girls at least had an opportunity to play sports the way boys did, even if the girls’ teams still get less attention.

And while female CEOs are few and far between, they are out there, raking in inflated stock options and protected by golden parachutes just like the men.

Companies that discriminate in employment get sued. Two years ago, Kansans even re-elected a woman to her second term as governor.
Still, there’s plenty of sexism out there.

Not so much the blatant kind that occurred on that basketball court. It’s far subtler.

Even without her baggage, Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race with a bigger challenge than Barack Obama: to win over an electorate that is more comfortable voting for the hypothetical perfect black candidate over the hypothetical perfect woman (94 percent compared to 88 percent, according to a 2007 Gallup Poll).

That said, even the prospect of a woman president was unimaginable a generation ago.

The same could be said for the outrage sparked by what happened at St. Mary’s.

Plus, here’s another day brightener. That game that Campbell wasn’t allowed to call and Shockey refused to officiate?
When the final buzzer rang, St. Mary’s lost to its Wichita opponent, 60-51.

Yeah, I know. What a shame.

Original source is here.

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