June 18, 2012

Lax oversight kept sports equality in backfield

Maine's success in leveling girls' and boys' playing fields is not typical nationwide.

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UMO’s Cindy Blodgett drives to the basket in 1996, showing why children at the time wore her No. 14 replica jersey.

1996 Staff File Photo by John Ewing

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Andrea Cayer

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She also gave birth to two healthy children, both of whom grew up to be collegiate athletes: Abby Samuelson skied for Bates and Anders Samuelson runs for Bowdoin.

"The impact is tremendous in terms of self-esteem, of confidence, of taking good care of their body and keeping it fit," Cayer said of participation in athletics. "The sense of winning but also of losing, and the lessons that come from that. How to get along with more adults, to be disappointed, to be elated, to learn how to manage your time."

As educators such as Cayer retire and stories from the early days of Title IX are told less often, complacency can creep into a system already challenged by shrinking budgets. Ceding financial control to booster groups and parental fees is resulting in "the beginnings of some real inequities in sports," said Judge, the North Yarmouth mother and lawyer.

One potential solution is a sunshine law similar to the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, which requires colleges to make annual reports of their participation rates, expenses, revenue and athletic scholarships. That information is easily accessible on the website ope.ed.gov/athletics.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has introduced a bill, the High School Data Transparency Act, the House version of which, the Athletics Accountability Act, is sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. Neither bill has made it out of committee, although Snowe first introduced the bill in 2003 and both she and Slaughter have submitted similar versions in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

"With this new information," said Snowe, "we can ensure that young women all over the country have the chance not only to improve their athletic abilities, but also to develop the qualities of teamwork, discipline and self-confidence that lead to success off the playing field."

Either that, or wait for another Cindy Blodgett to come along.

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

 

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