Last updated: March 29, 2012 7:26 pm
Canada should look south for gender equality in sport
According to The Gateway's Atta Almasi, Canada is far behind the U.S. in terms of female opportunities in athletics
EDMONTON (CUP) — If you’re a bracketologist like me, you may have noticed that the women’s side of March Madness has been fuelled by cheerful personalities.
Leaders like the University of Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, whom rapper Lil’ Wayne infamously wished good luck to on Twitter during the Fighting Irish’s surprise run last year, and Elena Delle Donne are both outstanding role models. Donne gave up the chance of winning multiple national titles at women’s basketball powerhouse the University of Connecticut by leaving the team after just two weeks into her freshman year. She chose instead to suit up for her home state of Delaware to be close to home and her sister Lizzy, who is deaf, blind and has cerebral palsy.
While the women’s version of the Final Four does not draw nearly the attention, attendance or advertisement dollars of their male counterparts, the display of amateurism, much like in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), makes you wonder just how students who take full course loads at prestigious institutions like Stanford find the time to practice and perfect their skills in between all the homework and classes.
This was also the first year that U.S. President Barack Obama filled out a bracket for the women. He usually participates in ESPN’s annual Final Four bracket predictor Tournament Challenge and makes his choice live from the White House prior to the tournament kick off. Obama, who helps coach his daughter Sasha’s basketball team, also did an interview for ESPN on Monday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IX — the controversial piece of legislation passed by the US Congress in 1972 that, among other things, guaranteed that men’s and women’s varsity sports receive equal treatment by university athletic departments.
With the recent proposal to cut field hockey on the University of Alberta campus, you can’t help but wonder if the attitude towards female athletes would change if Canada had a Title IX of its own. Although the Alberta Golden Bears — the men's team — field 12 varsity sports and the Pandas 13, the Bears outdraw the Pandas in every varsity team sport except for soccer. After the enormous amount of campus support during the CIS Women’s National hockey championships here a few weeks back, it’s been shown that it’s possible for the community to get behind female athletics.
As it stands now, female student athletes receive less funding and scholarship dollars than their male counterparts. In the 2010–11 season, the Golden Bears received 65 per cent of athletic financial awards and the Pandas received 35 per cent.
And even though the U of A may have an almost equal amount of male and female varsity teams competing, the sad fact is that not all schools across the country can boast the same. Maybe if our MPs and provincial legislators move to copy what the U.S. did 40 years ago, we’d be able to look back at ourselves in 2042 and see just how far we’ve come in moving close to a more equal society for all.