August 6th, 2004

Warning

I know that Beau is very busy with non-political Olympics coverage and Bryant has delicate journalism ethics. Please, if you don

21 Responses to “Warning”

  1. Bryant says:

    Jim, Jim. Since when is it “delicate” to ask someone to disclose their conflicts of interest?

    Did USA Today change the story, or did you mis-link? There’s nothing in that article about Title IX. Maybe this one?

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/brennan/2004-08-06-brennan_x.htm

  2. Jim McCarthy says:

    Oops — my bad on the link error… Fixed, I think…

    As for conflict, there is none. I am offering opinions on sports and gender, based on my professional expertise, as was pointed out right at the top by Eric. My involvement with Title IX reform is plain to see, from various news accounts to a plain Google search. You inquired about it and I candidly provided further background. Nothing is being hidden and I am gaining no advantage. If you disagree or think me corrupted somehow, then say so in the comments. I don’t know what standard you are applying but it seems to come from the, yes, delicate world of the Poynter Institute and the New York Times Usage Manual. This is a blog not a newspaper.

  3. chris says:

    “Once upon a time, there was darkness in the land since young girls and women were systematically prevented from playing soccer.”

    Wasn’t Jim saying that Title IX simply needed reforms? So why does the tongue-in-cheek tone of the above passage suggest that Title IX was never really necessary? Does Jim have an alternative narrative regarding the improvement of sports opportunities for women over the last 30 years? Or my bad, the first 20 years of that period before women caused the demise of men’s sport in America.

    ** ‘Kumbaya’ Alert **

    I’m satisfied that Jim isn’t biased any more or less than the Title IX-sympathetic group on this board (folks like myself). It doesn’t take a genius (or resume) to figure out who falls where, so I’d just assume let it go at that. Overall, the exchange has been fun.

    ** Back to your regularly-scheduled pissing match **

  4. Bryant says:

    Aw, hugs.

    Jim, seriously — I’m completely cool at this point. You’ve been up front, I know where you’re coming from, etc. I really appreciated the list of suggestions you made for fixes, and I’d be into discussing that further, because this is a great example of the kind of thing I struggle with as a left-leaning minimal government kind of a guy.

    I think I was overly combative at first and I will be making a post on my blog later to clarify and apologize for that. I sincerely regret it when — as is too often the case — the temptation to be clever with words gets in the way of real discussion. I stand by my opinions but God knows I could have expressed ‘em better; I am guilty of forgetting that the guy on the other end is a person, not just an anonymous Internet figure.

  5. Jim McCarthy says:

    I would argue that women have been trending toward more sports participation as one social shift among many. The rates of increase are the same in sports that

  6. Jim McCarthy says:

    Hugs, indeed, and a firm hockey handshake as well. That was a most gracious gesture, Bryant.

    One of my favorite things about this site is how informed and genuinely interested the readership is. Sure, there

  7. Beau says:

    So Jim, let me get this straight: You’re telling me that the folks covering the Olympics should ignore compelling stories like the last major tournament of Mia Hamm and company. Perhaps we should instead go up to each female athlete and say, “But you really think Title IX needs serious reform, right?”

    You could very easily use the same logic and call Kelly Whiteside a sellout to her gender because she covers college football and has written books on the subject (you did that Amazon search, right?).

    Jim, I’m tempted to say that the reason common-sense reform on Title IX hasn’t proceeded is that those who would offer such reform don’t use much common sense in their arguments. I hope you’ll take that as a constructive criticism, because I think you’ll make much more headway if you reach for the middle ground you and I agree is there. You’re simply not going to get there if you take every story on the women’s soccer team as an affront to men. (By the way, where do you see that Kelly had anything to do with Christine’s column? Do you know something I don’t?)

    You catch more flies with honey, you know.

    Oh … and thanks for assuming my political views. :)

    P.S. Sports departments, in my experience, are roughly 50 percent sexist pig, 35 percent enlightened men and 15 percent women. Give or take a little each way.

  8. Beau says:

    So Jim, let me get this straight: You’re telling me that the folks covering the Olympics should ignore compelling stories like the last major tournament of Mia Hamm and company. Perhaps we should instead go up to each female athlete and say, “But you really think Title IX needs serious reform, right?”

    You could very easily use the same logic and call Kelly Whiteside a sellout to her gender because she covers college football and has written books on the subject (you did that Amazon search, right?).

    Jim, I’m tempted to say that the reason common-sense reform on Title IX hasn’t proceeded is that those who would offer such reform don’t use much common sense in their arguments. I hope you’ll take that as a constructive criticism, because I think you’ll make much more headway if you reach for the middle ground you and I agree is there. You’re simply not going to get there if you take every story on the women’s soccer team as an affront to men. (By the way, where do you see that Kelly had anything to do with Christine’s column? Do you know something I don’t?)

    You catch more flies with honey, you know.

    Oh … and thanks for assuming my political views. :)

    P.S. Sports departments, in my experience, are roughly 50 percent sexist pig, 35 percent enlightened men and 15 percent women. Give or take a little each way. But as in politics, we’re able to put our personal biases aside to suit our publishers’ quest for money.

  9. Beau says:

    So Jim, let me get this straight: You’re telling me that the folks covering the Olympics should ignore compelling stories like the last major tournament of Mia Hamm and company. Perhaps we should instead go up to each female athlete and say, “But you really think Title IX needs serious reform, right?”

    You could very easily use the same logic and call Kelly Whiteside a sellout to her gender because she covers college football and has written books on the subject (you did that Amazon search, right?).

    Jim, I’m tempted to say that the reason common-sense reform on Title IX hasn’t proceeded is that those who would offer such reform don’t use much common sense in their arguments. I hope you’ll take that as a constructive criticism, because I think you’ll make much more headway if you reach for the middle ground you and I agree is there. You’re simply not going to get there if you take every story on the women’s soccer team as an affront to men. (By the way, where do you see that Kelly had anything to do with Christine’s column? Do you know something I don’t?)

    You catch more flies with honey, you know.

    Oh … and thanks for assuming my political views. :)

    P.S. Sports departments, in my experience, are roughly 50 percent sexist pig, 35 percent enlightened men and 15 percent women. Give or take a little each way. But as in politics, we’re able to put our personal biases aside to suit our publishers’ quest for money.

  10. Beau says:

    Many apologies for the reposting — I kept getting an error message and assumed the post hadn’t gone through. See, that’s what happens when you assume. :)

  11. Jim McCarthy says:

    My error — I thought that Whiteside was cited as a contributor to Brennan’s piece but I had confused it with the story from yesterday about Tiffany Milbrett. Mea culpa.

    I will stand by the point, however — that Brennan and Whiteside both frequently inject laudatory mention of Title IX in their coverage. And gratuitously so. It is a fact that many people in amatuer athletics regard Title IX enforcement as an active harm. Not once, to my knowledge, has either reporter ever quoted one of those sources directly. Brennan has mentioned that viepoint, but only in a derisive fashion. And I’m sorry, but no one ever tried to stop anyone on that team from playing soccer. It is debateable at best, and I would say flat wrong, to credit Title IX with the US soccer team’s success.

    Debbie Yow and Cynthia Cooper both tried using honey with Julie Foudy during the Title IX Commission hearings — and were lambasted on the spot. Their proposals (interest surveys, latitude on continuing ed) were mild and well within the spirit of the law.

    Note how Brennan chastises the Bush Administration in her piece for having the temerity to appoint a commission to simply examine the law!

    The Women’s Sports Foundation and their allies are wreaking havoc in amatuer athletics. They treat anyone in their way with invective, litigation and threats. They deserve to be called on it and I for one find their cereal-box-sweetness-and-light campaign a galling charade.

    On your views — I must confess I am having a hard time getting a compass read. The point I was making was that, in the eyes of the WSF, your sports section is a bastion of sexist male privilege and you a beneficiary. I think they are wrong, but if they had their way, there would surely be proportionality in the newsroom, too.

  12. Jim McCarthy says:

    My error — I thought that Whiteside was cited as a contributor to Brennan’s piece but I had confused it with the story from yesterday about Tiffany Milbrett. Mea culpa.

    I will stand by the point, however — that Brennan and Whiteside both frequently inject laudatory mention of Title IX in their coverage. And gratuitously so. It is a fact that many people in amatuer athletics regard Title IX enforcement as an active harm. Not once, to my knowledge, has either reporter ever quoted one of those sources directly. Brennan has mentioned that viepoint, but only in a derisive fashion. And I’m sorry, but no one ever tried to stop anyone on that team from playing soccer. It is debateable at best, and I would say flat wrong, to credit Title IX with the US soccer team’s success.

    Debbie Yow and Cynthia Cooper both tried using honey with Julie Foudy during the Title IX Commission hearings — and were lambasted on the spot. Their proposals (interest surveys, latitude on continuing ed) were mild and well within the spirit of the law.

    Note how Brennan chastises the Bush Administration in her piece for having the temerity to appoint a commission to simply examine the law!

    The Women’s Sports Foundation and their allies are wreaking havoc in amatuer athletics. They treat anyone in their way with invective, litigation and threats. They deserve to be called on it and I for one find their cereal-box-sweetness-and-light campaign a galling charade.

    On your views — I must confess I am having a hard time getting a compass read. The point I was making was that, in the eyes of the WSF, your sports section is a bastion of sexist male privilege and you a beneficiary. I think they are wrong, but if they had their way, there would surely be proportionality in the newsroom, too!

  13. Jim McCarthy says:

    Yikes, I did the same thing… Makes it seem like a rhetorical bench-clearer..!

  14. Skip Oliva says:

    Beau, Jim, you two are giving me a headache…

    The basic flaw in Brennan’s argument has always been her emphasis on “role models”: Young girls can only flourish if they see older women succeeding in sports. This is one of the basic tenets of affirmative action theory: Minority group member will do better in life if she sees a member of the same minority group doing well. It devalues an individual or group achievement to the level of a “minority group” achievement. The women’s soccer team doesn’t compete for themselves, this theory holds, but as proxies for “all women.” To me, this thinking negates the ethical ideal of sports, which is to celebrate achievement free of arbitrary social castes.

    Second, Brennan’s argument that the success of the women’s soccer team is directly tied to Title IX lacks proof. What exactly did Title IX accomplish? Title IX did increase the number of women’s athletic scholarships, but that fact alone does not explain the success of a post-collegiate, international soccer program. If funding alone caused success, the U.S. *men’s* soccer team should have won a World Cup or two by now. A more accurate explanation is that women’s soccer is a relatively young sport worldwide, and this allowed the U.S. program to parlay the nation’s financial resources (and the NCAA-subsidized collegiate system) into an early competitive advantage, one which will weaken over time. Title IX is certainly a factor in this equation, but it is not the direct cause.

    Finally, Brennan’s assertion that Julie Foudy is a “latter-day warrior for women’s sports by standing up to the Bush Administration last year when it tried to weaken Title IX,” is misleading. The Bush administration never seriously challenged Title IX. The commission was little more than busywork for the Department of Education.

  15. Beau says:

    Skip — Good points. I think the first is especially interesting.

    I’ll nit-pick the second simply because you make the valid point that women’s soccer is younger and not as well-established in the world, but before that, you make the apples-oranges comparison that shouldn’t be made. Funding alone won’t give the U.S. men a World Cup because there are so many countries that take men’s soccer development very seriously.

    On the final point — so you’re saying the Bush Administration wastes tax dollars with busywork? :)

    In any case, I think it’s a little naive to think that Foudy and company shouldn’t see a Title IX review as a threat. You don’t see public commissions to review programs that aren’t in danger of being overhauled. If it was all just for show, of course, then that’s another issue.

    Final point — I don’t think it’s fair to combine Christine Brennan (columnist) and Kelly Whiteside (reporter) into one monolith of opinion. Christine writes opinion pieces, and those can be judged on their own merits. (I’m not commenting on them.) Kelly wrote a profile of Foudy as part of her coverage of the women’s soccer team. Whether Kelly agreed with Foudy is irrelevant to the story, just as her opinions on state university football stadium construction are irelevant to her coverage of SEC football.

    Love her, hate her, you can’t ignore Foudy. That’d be like me leaving Shaquille O’Neal’s move to Miami off the Sports front because I think he’s reduced the NBA to sumo wrestling.

  16. Skip Oliva says:

    “Funding alone won’t give the U.S. men a World Cup because there are so many countries that take men’s soccer development very seriously.”

    Um, that was my point. Because other nations have already invested heavily in men’s soccer, the U.S. can’t simply throw money on its soccer program and expect the same results as the women’s team.

    “I think it’s a little naive to think that Foudy and company shouldn’t see a Title IX review as a threat.”

    Why is threatening to review a 30-year old government policy that’s evolved past its original legislative intent? Some people would call that “oversight.” If Foudy treated the review as a threat–and I didn’t follow the commission that closely–than she had no business being on the commission in the first place.

  17. Beau says:

    Skip — The way it was worded was “if funding alone caused success … etc.” There’s no way funding alone could cause success in men’s soccer. In women’s soccer, the funding is a large part of the success simply because there aren’t as many countries doing it. If the U.S. spends X amount and England spends 0, the U.S. will likely beat England.

    I might be in the dark about reviewing policy. What other policies, 30-year-old or otherwise, have merited such review? How typical is that sort of commission? (Other than Prohibition, of course.)

    If it’s atypical, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but you’d have to admit it’s unusual and therefore a bit tougher to shrug off as a routine checkup. But does this happen all the time with less-publicized law?

  18. Jim McCarthy says:

    Two quick points:

    – 13 of the 15 of the commissioners on the Title IX panel recommended reforms to the law. The only two who fought any change across the board were Foudy and DeVarona — both with a vested interest (through the WSF) in maintining the status quo. And there were some heavy hitters on that panel, too. During the hearings, it was as obvious as a rodeo clown at a funeral that some changes are needed.

    – I will ask again, does Whiteside not have some obligation to quote sources who differ with Title IX’s enforcement and role in sports when she covers that issue? I also find it amazing that you and she seem to regard Foudy as some sort of objective, neutral observer. She works with one of the most partisan political activist groups in the country. I don’t which is worse — ignorance to that fact or indifference. In either case, readers are justified in believing that Whiteside is helping to advance a political agenda — no matter how many Alabama games she’s been to.

  19. Beau says:

    Jim — Whiteside was writing a profile of Julie Foudy. Period. Not a Title IX discussion. Apparently, you didn’t get that out of the few words she sent back to you.

    When USA TODAY has written specifically about Title IX, it has covered all sides, as I’ve pointed out before.

    I don’t know why you choose to ignore all this other than to cling to false notions you somehow find comfortable.

    Jim, just make your points. You have valid arguments that you are failing to make in good faith.

  20. Beau says:

    I’m going to let that be my last post on the subject. I think we’ve covered everything. :)

  21. Skip Oliva says:

    “I might be in the dark about reviewing policy. What other policies, 30-year-old or otherwise, have merited such review? How typical is that sort of commission? (Other than Prohibition, of course.)”

    I can think of two such commissions during the current administration–one to review the Postal Service’s 1970 reorganization act, and one to study “modernizing” the antitrust laws (don’t get me started.) And then there was that, um, 9/11 commission. These commissions are not unusual.

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