Video educates kids on women in sports

Kristin Gustafson

“You throw like a girl.”
This used to be an insult. But the University is trying to change that with a women’s sports video and curriculum mailed out to every Minnesota secondary school.
If it is any measure of success, 200 ninth-graders from Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle High School, who have seen the new educational tools, flooded the University’s Aquatic Center on Wednesday to help with a mailing kickoff.
Many said they liked the 23-minute, award-winning video, which told the history of women’s sports and showed barriers that were overcome for the passage of Title IX in 1972 — a landmark decision that opened the door for women athletes.
“That this generation of girls take for granted and have a sense of entitlement with respect to participation in sports, that’s a wonderful thing,” said Mary Jo Kane in the video.
Kane is director of the University’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport that explores how sport, recreation and physical activity affect the lives of girls and women.
“I think the downside of that is that they take it for granted and that they have a sense of entitlement and that they do not know their history,” Kane said.
The video “Throw Like a Girl: A Revolution in Women’s Sports” and its accompanying curriculum meets the University’s community outreach and public service mission.
The video is designed to teach students about the events leading to Title IX’s passage; the impact of how the media portrays women in sports; the physiological, psychological and sociological implications of young girls and women participating in sports; and important state and national women’s sports figures.
KARE 11 (NBC) television paid for and produced the video. The Minnesota Lynx sponsored its reproduction.
Kane said passage of Title IX transformed women’s and girls’ access to sports in a matter of one generation.
The 1972 federal law prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities, including athletics, at any school receiving federal money. The law mandates equity in federally funded educational institutions, including public high schools and the University.
Before Title IX legislation, 30,000 high school girls played sports nationally. Now 3 million play. One in 27 girls played high school sports before the law passed. Now one in three girls participate.
Scholarships for female athletes did not exist before Title IX. Now, 30,000 women receive athletics scholarships nationally.
“We really have gone from hoping for a team to hoping to make the team,” Kane said.
Though the students enjoyed the free pizza served at the kickoff event, many said they understood the video’s significance.
Brianne Carmichael plays basketball and track at DeLaSalle. She liked the video because it “showed women in action on the court instead of portrayed as beautiful, like models … and it showed the females instead of the males and the actual, true meaning, of ‘throw like a girl,'” Carmichael said.
Another ninth-grader, Cherish Gibson, said she planned to play basketball, volleyball and tennis next year. “I’m just happy I was born in 1985 so I do have the opportunity to play sports,” Gibson said.
Gibson said the video showed images of women who were “sheroes.” She explained her use of this word.
“Heroes has the he in front of it … I like the word sheroes … because it is saying he is not the only hero, she can be a shero as well.”
Lucas Hoch, another DeLaSalle student, said he liked the video because it showed how girls are equal.
Professional basketball players Andrea Lloyd-Curry and Angie Potthoff told the ninth-graders Title IX gave them more opportunities than those before them.
Lloyd-Curry said the video tells her life story as she was called a tomboy because she liked sports and was warned against sweating.
Potthoff said professional women’s basketball has broken new ground and paved the way for others. “Next year we’ll possibly have professional women’s soccer and professional women’s hockey … and it is only going to get better,” she said.
Pat Miles, weekday KARE 11 anchorwoman, said in the video’s introduction: “When I was growing up, throwing like a girl was derogatory slang. It meant you were uncoordinated, weak and couldn’t compete with the boys. In fact, any young girl who had strength and speed and used it was labelled a tomboy boy. But today, more than 25 years after Title IX and a push for gender equity, we call those same girls athletes.”
The video has already won a regional Radio Television News Directors award in the documentary category and a national American Women in Radio and Television’s “Gracie” award in the sports category.
KARE 11 television put up the $10,000 and the production needed for the video, said managing editor Jane Helmke. “The media, often times, are the ones who reinforce some of the negative images … but I also believe that we can empower, educate and bring positive images to you,” she said.

Kristin Gustafson welcomes comments at [email protected]