Thursday, April 17

Burk praises Title IX in speech



KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Women's activist Martha Burk, three days removed from a fizzled protest at the Masters, supported increased enforcement of Title IX at a forum Wednesday night in Kansas City.

Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, made repeated references to the weekend protest outside Augusta National Golf Club in a 15-minute speech at Union Station.

The protest against the club's lack of a female member attracted only about 50 people and was relegated to a field a half-mile from the golf course's entrance.

On Wednesday, Burk spoke about women's equality in general, making references to unequal pay for women and infrequent endorsement opportunities for WNBA players as compared to their male counterparts.

Burk also praised Title IX, saying it opened the door to professional sports leagues and opportunities for women.

"We have taught girls that they can do anything that they want to do, but we have not taught the boys that girls can do anything they want to do,'' Burk said. "That is why we're still not in the board room and we're still not at the top. We should not have to prove why we should be there.''

An audience of about 100 people -- mostly women -- attended the forum, held in conjunction with an exhibit of 139 photographs titled "Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?'' on display at Union Station.

Burk said she considered Title IX a success, but said the law needs to be enforced more.

"We've created opportunity where literally there was none before,'' Burk said. "It has taken 30 years now to get women and girls up to where they are. We're still not even with boys, but we've come a long way.''

Burk also continued her assault on Augusta, the highly exclusive all-male golf club.

A list of the chief executives of major corporations who are members at Augusta was distributed at the forum. Burk has identified the executives as a target, denouncing them for taking money women spend and using it to support a club that does not allow female members.

Burk said the club's exclusion of women can be reflected by the executives and their corporations discriminating against women.

"It's not just about golf,'' Burk said.

Aside from Burk's speech, the night was centered entirely on Title IX.

Athena Yiamouyiannis, executive director of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports, said the 1972 legislation "is under attack.''

Yiamouyiannis said Title IX often is blamed for eliminating men's university sports programs when it is not truly the culprit. Yiamouyiannis said many large universities have cut men's programs, such as swimming or wrestling, and then spent lavishly on football and basketball.

She said the costs of football and basketball coaches' salaries and facilities improvements could be used to support other programs.

Yiamouyiannis said many small men's programs choose to attack Title IX, instead of the football and basketball programs that receive large amounts of money.






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