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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Don't Believe Naysayers, Title IX Is a Big Success

June 23, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Twenty-five years ago, Washington gave us Watergate and Title IX--a third-rate burglary and a first-rate law.

On the anniversary of the former last week, there was a photograph in the newspaper of co-conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, smiling broadly while being cheered during a celebration of the crime.

On the anniversary of the latter today, Title IX supporters are on the defensive because colleges--ineptly in some cases--are attempting to comply with the law requiring gender equity in all phases of their curriculum, including sports.

It really is a man's world, even when the man is a felon.

The celebration should be for Title IX. I know what the statistics show, that the law has not worked as quickly as its sponsors intended a quarter of a century ago.

But I also know the success of U.S. women in the 1996 Summer Olympics, the awarding of the 1999 Women's Soccer World Cup to the United States and the remarkably fast start of the WNBA over the weekend would not have occurred without Title IX.

Unfortunately, the law is still viewed by some as a threat to men's athletics. The most recent example comes from Cal State Northridge, which eliminated four men's sports--baseball, soccer, swimming and volleyball. Soccer later was reinstated for one season.

The cuts, regrettable though they were, were not made because of Title IX. They were made because the athletic department was $800,000 in the red. All the law did was assure the university didn't make any decisions at the expense of gender equity.

Yet, critics of Title IX emerged in full fury.

Supporters of the law were sympathetic to male athletes suddenly without teams. But I was pleased to see that none apologized.

"Some out there are trying to create a trench war between men and women," said Donna de Varona, the former president of the Women's Sports Foundation and an Olympic swimming gold medalist. "But that's not what this is about. This is about fairness.

"I have a son and a daughter. I want both of them to have opportunities. But I don't want my daughter to feel guilty because she's made to believe she's keeping boys from playing sports."

*

The sport's prodigy had his A-game Sunday. . . .

I'm not talking about Tiger Woods. I had to read until three paragraphs from the bottom of the Associated Press story to learn he finished 19 shots out of the lead in the Buick Open . . .

I'm talking about Jeff Gordon, who, at 25, won his 26th NASCAR race in the inaugural California 500 in Fontana. . . .

I've heard he's not that popular among drivers, probably because he's not a good ol' boy from the South. . . .

He's a native of Vallejo, Calif., who doesn't like to hunt or fish. He prefers computer chess. . . .

Gordon's average speed was 155.025 mph, but it won't be long before he'll have trouble outrunning a good tennis serve. . . .

A first-round Wimbledon match this week pits Aussie Mark Philippoussis and his 142-mph serve against Brit Greg Rusedski and his serve of 139 mph. . . .

Forum boxing tonight: Arthur "Flash" Johnson vs. Mike "Night Train" Trejo. . . .

OK. But I'm waiting for promoters to send Ted "Headline News" Turner in against Rupert "The Dodger" Murdoch. . . .

Tale of the tape reveals Murdoch has the edge in reach with holdings on four continents. . . .

Oscar De La Hoya, Terry Bradshaw, Kerri Strug and Leigh Steinberg were honored Sunday night at Cedars-Sinai's 12th-annual Sports Spectacular in Century City. . . .

Steinberg made his reputation representing football stars such as Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Warren Moon. But he's also the agent for several basketball players, including Austin Croshere out of Santa Monica Crossroads High and Providence College. . . .

Croshere, predicts Steinberg, will go 11th to Sacramento or 12th to Indiana in Wednesday's NBA draft. . . .

I doubt too many high school basketball players will be discouraged from thinking about bypassing college by that $12 million deal Tracy McGrady signed with Adidas. . . .

King General Manager Dave Taylor said this about Olli Jokinen, the team's first choice in Saturday's draft: "He has a lot of leadership ability and plays a physical game and goes to the net." . . .

Sounds like he could have been talking about Dave Taylor. . . .

*

While wondering if Tom Candiotti ever considered becoming a starter, I was thinking: I hope Olli Jokinen is another Dave Taylor, maybe the Angels can blame their attendance problems on the Southern Baptists, I don't know who to root for in Turner vs. Murdoch.

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