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The Heart of the Game: Putting Race and Educational Equity at the Center of Title IX

51 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2008 Last revised: 5 May 2010

Deborah L. Brake

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Verna L. Williams

University of Cincinnati - College of Law

Date Written: August 4, 2008

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Brake, Deborah L. and Williams, Verna L., The Heart of the Game: Putting Race and Educational Equity at the Center of Title IX (August 4, 2008). Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 7, p. 199, 2008; U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-20; U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 08-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1201942

Deborah L. Brake (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Verna L. Williams

University of Cincinnati - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States
513-556-1220 (Phone)
513-556-1236 (Fax)

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