Football as a sport is changing, and more changes are coming. With the growing popularity of women’s athletics on and off the field, there are many changes that need to be made in order to allow women to play to the highest possible level in collegiate sports. I believe these changes can be accomplished, but there is one issue that must be dealt with before women are allowed to compete against men. This is the issue of fair play.
Although it may seem absurd, it seems this issue has never been addressed during the NCAA Football Conference’s efforts to create a more equal playing field. The NCAA has been the only organization in the country that has never permitted any of its member institutions to grant scholarships to a woman, regardless of academic merit, because they deem the concept to be “unfair.”
Change is Coming
A lot has changed in the last eight years, and with the new changes that are coming for women’s football, there are many questions about the future of the NCAA Football Conference, and women’s football in general, that must be answered.
At the core of the issue, there are questions about the validity of the position that the NCAA has put women’s football on and in the public eye. As a result, there’s also a need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. The new standards that were put into effect this year are a strong step in the right direction. There’s no question that the conferences will continue to improve as the next level of competition comes to the forefront.
But this decision will have a big impact on women’s football. For the second consecutive year, we will hear from the NCAA President about how she feels about women’s football and women’s academic and athletic opportunities, which is a positive step.
However, she needs to listen to and hear from those who work directly and indirectly in women’s football, from the coaches, from those who run women’s football programs, from the athletes, from the fans and from the student-athletes themselves. If she doesn’t hear this loud and clear, I don’t see how she can credibly claim to be taking a thoughtful approach to the issues that confront women’s sports in America.
Speaking of President Obama, the football players have gotten an opportunity to talk with him several times about this issue. As I write, the players have not had any formal conversations with the president. That’s good for all concerned.
They will continue to communicate with him and others in hopes that he will take note and take action. They know that if they don’t succeed, his administration and his Attorney General are sure to.
But the fact that the team doesn’t get any formal interactions with the president at this point does nothing to change the fact that, when the opportunity arose, they chose to take the highly unusual step of declining to participate in a group photo with him.
That choice was consistent with their principles, and their own commitment to supporting one another in what they believe is a long battle. So while the invitation did not come to them, they nonetheless chose to decline it.
As always, a quick look at the political power structure behind our sports institutions demonstrates the great lengths that powerful people will go to to prevent the truth from coming out.