Moulton_essay - 1 Why Everyone Deserves a Sporting Chance:...

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1 Why Everyone Deserves a Sporting Chance: Education, Justice, and School Sports * Janice Moulton, Smith College Speaking at a college athletic banquet, Donald Kennedy, the former president of Stanford University, spoke about when he had been a college athlete thirty years earlier: It occurs to me to wonder: what would the reaction have been if I had predicted that soon women would run the Boston Marathon faster than it had ever been run by men up to that point? There would have been incredulous laughter from two-thirds of the room, accompanied by a little locker-room humor. Yet that is just what has taken place. My classmates would be astonished at the happening, but they would be even more astonished at the trends. If we look at the past 10 years of world's best times in the Marathons for men and women, it is clear that the women's mark has been dropping over the decade, at a rate about seven times faster than the men's record. While Kennedy was in school, the swimming teams of Harvard and Yale were the best in the country. He used them for comparison: ____________________________________________________________________ _ *An earlier version of this paper was given as a talk and published in Rethinking College Athletics (Judith Andre and David N. James, eds., Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1991, pp. 210-220.) The revisions were prompted by comments of Bob Cohen and George Robinson, for which I thank you both. What would have happened if you had put this year's Stanford women into the pool? Humiliation is what. Just to give you a sample, seven current Stanford women would have beaten my friend Dave Hedberg, Harvard's great sprint free-styler, and all the Yalies in the 100. The Stanford women would have swept the 200-yard backstroke and breaststroke, and won all the other events contested. In the 400-yard freestyle relay there would have been a 10-second wait between Stanford's touch and the first man to arrive at the finish. Do you know how long 10 seconds is? Can you imagine that crowd . . . seeing a team of girls line up against the two best freestyle relay groups in the East, expecting the unexpected, and then having to wait this long-for the men to get home? (1) Kennedy’s anecdote asks us to reexamine assumptions about male-female differences that are based on past performance. Short-distance swimming and long-distance track records of men are better to date than those of women, but the rate of improvement for women is far better than the rate of improvement for men. What has changed is the opportunity for women to participate and train in these sports, because about ten years before Donald Kennedy spoke, Title IV, the federal legislation prohibiting sex discrimination in school programs, was passed. The lesson is that we must be careful about attributing differences in sports ability to sex differences: Opportunity produces far greater improvement in performance than anyone would have predicted. Equal opportunity is an important value in our society. It is often invoked to
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This note was uploaded on 05/31/2009 for the course PHIL 067 taught by Professor Boxill during the Spring '09 term at UNC.

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Moulton_essay - 1 Why Everyone Deserves a Sporting Chance:...

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