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Thursday, June 6, 2002
The lasting impact is seen at our local parks

By Rod Gilmore
Special to ESPN.com

My parents didn't have to do this.

That thought raced through my mind as I raced across the park with my wife. It was a Saturday at our local baseball park. On one field, our 12-year-old son was playing centerfield in a Little League game. On another field, our 9-year-old daughter was playing shortstop in a Girls Softball League game. But it was impossible to find a spot where I could watch both games simultaneously. I had to shuttle back and forth in order to see both my children play.

As I watched my daughter's game, I was anxious. I didn't want to miss a catch or an at-bat by my son. I wanted to sneak away, but I couldn't leave until my daughter batted. I was stuck. I wanted to watch my son, but I had to watch my daughter. It's not that I don't support my daughter; it's just that I enjoy watching my son play more.

As an analyst for ESPN, I know Title IX is viewed as a dirty word in the world of college football. I hear complaints that football will be destroyed if Title IX is enforced completely. Title IX is not without its problems, but its impact goes far beyond what we have seen on college campuses.
This is how Title IX affects my household. My dilemma is different from the dilemma my parents faced when they had two or more sons playing games at the same time. For them, there were no judgments on the value of one son playing versus another. With my daughter and son playing simultaneously, I was certainly making the value judgment that my son's participation in his game was more important, more worthy of my emotional involvement, than my daughter's game. Title IX put me in this position.

Clearly, Title IX has changed the way we parent. I grew up with five siblings -- including two sisters. Neither my parents nor my older brothers ever had to attend a softball or basketball game for one of my sisters. The family budget never was hit with expenses for girls' soccer or softball equipment. Now, my daughter knows her way around the sporting goods store as well as I do. We buy as much athletic gear for her as we do for my son. But my biggest dilemma is trying to figure out how to coach my daughter when I had no experience at that. Do I treat her differently than I do my son? Will she ignore me as much as he does? What if I hurt her feelings? For heavens sake, I was a college football player! What do I know about coaching girls?

As an analyst for ESPN, I know Title IX is viewed as a dirty word in the world of college football. I hear complaints that football will be destroyed if Title IX is enforced completely. Title IX is not without its problems, but its impact goes far beyond what we have seen on college campuses.

I think the lasting impact of Title IX may be what we're seeing at our local parks -- what I'm seeing in my own home. As I sit here itching to jog over to my son's game, Title IX is hitting me smack in the face. My daughter legs out a hit. There's a big smile on her face, but it quickly moves to a look of determination and concentration as she eyes second base. Would she have that look without Title IX? If she were doing something else, would I be there? Do I realize the odds of her receiving a scholarship are better than those for my son?

This is Title IX in my home, and it's a good thing.

Rod Gilmore is a college football anlalyst for ESPN.