Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, November 1, 1999

Gender equity
benefits both sexes

WHEN contacted for a national poll on women sportswriters recently, one question was very puzzling. The survey from the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism asked: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

How does one strongly agree-strongly disagree-are neutral about such a vague label? It's as confusing as the reactions I received after a recent column on gender equity and Title IX implications on the high school girls' basketball season.

Some women were surprised I didn't side with the supposed "female voice'' that wants the girls' season to run concurrently with the boys'. Some men were surprised for the same reason.

Does there have to be a gender-twist to every situation? Can't there just be fairness all the way around?

After 27 years, there is still such a great need to educate people about Title IX and how it is being applied to athletics. It is not about discriminating against men in favor of women.It is about equity for both.

ONE of the most ignorant questions I've ever heard asked on the subject came on a recent local radio sports talk show. A Hawaii cross country runner was asked if she felt guilty that she had "taken away'' a scholarship from a deserving male athlete.

Angela Rosa had a brilliant reply.

"If anything, I feel guilty that I've taken away a scholarship opportunity from another female,'' she said. "But if the coach decides I deserve the scholarship over someone else, then it isn't an issue.''

As former Rainbow football coach Dick Tomey liked to say, it's like comparing apples to oranges. So, too, is the premise that UH athletics take away too much money from UH academics.

"Less than 10 percent of our budget comes out of the general funds the University receives,'' said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, UH associate athletic director. "Just like we have to be careful about making it a men versus women thing, we have to be careful not to make it academics versus athletics.

"There's a lot of misconceptions even on our own campus. We're always being asked about revenue-generating (versus nonrevenue-generating sports) when it really has nothing to do about money.''

WHAT it has to do with is opportunities. And, guess what? If UH adds women's track and field, using its Wahine cross country runners as a base, it would open up some athletic opportunities for men.

"It would be really nice if we could add men's soccer and water polo,'' said Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, who oversees women's sports as well as several men's programs. "But on my list of '12 Reasons to Add Women's Track' is that it means we can add men's track opportunities .''

A track and field program would greatly enhance football recruiting. A number of players at the "speed'' positions (running backs, wide receivers) prefer to keep in shape during the offseason by competing in track.

Hawaii has lost recruits to schools with track and field programs.

UH and San Jose State are the only two WAC schools not sponsoring the sport; of the eight WAC defectors, only San Diego State and UNLV don't.

So instead of this continuing "us vs. them'' mentality, universities as well as the public should understand the "we'' of athletics and work for equity for all.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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