The Heart of the Game: Putting Race and Educational Equity at the Center of Title IX
Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 7, p. 199, 2008
U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-20
51 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2008 Last revised: 5 May 2010
Date Written: August 4, 2008
This article examines how race and educational equity issues shape women's sports experiences, building upon the narrative of Darnellia Russell, a high school basketball player profiled in the documentary The Heart of the Game. Darnellia is a star player who, because of an unintended pregnancy, has to fight to play the game she loves.
This girl's story provides a unique and underutilized lens through which to examine gender and athletics, as well as evaluate the legal framework for gender equality in sport. In focusing on this narrative, we seek to give voice to black female athletes and to express their concerns in ways the law and scholarship have yet to do. The article focuses on several under-theorized areas: among them, how the push for greater Title IX enforcement in the context of ongoing inequalities in public education has ignored the deeper educational inequalities and educational policy issues that provide the broader context for sports programs, and the impact of policies concerning pregnancy and motherhood on female athletes. The absence of attention to these issues in the discourse and public policy debates surrounding Title IX undermines the law's transformative potential and its ability to succeed in enhancing the sports experiences of all women.
Keywords: Title IX, sports, race, gender, discrimination, civil rights, education
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