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May 03, 2005

Student sues, left off volleyball team: A female senior at Grand Junction High School who can't play volleyball because she didn't make the varsity team filed a lawsuit Monday alleging the school treats girls differently than boys. Unlike boys who play football, girls don't have the option of playing on the junior varsity volleyball team if they fail to make the varsity team, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

posted by justgary to culture at 05:57 PM - 20 comments

She may have a case...although there are so many standards by which a school district can demonstrate Title IX compliance that it's pretty easy to weasel out of providing equal or equivalent opportunity. The thing about this case is, that kind of thing is probably still pretty damn common...but it's not so much a "boys vs. girls" thing as a "football vs. everything else" thing. But, while providing equal opportunity for different genders is a matter of law, providing equal or equivalent opportunity and facilities for different sports is completely a matter of policy.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:57 PM on May 03

i'd like to know how many girls where cut from the team. if it was enough to field a full j.v. squad then i would say she might have a case. if there were only a handful, tough shit.

posted by goddam at 07:39 PM on May 03

You got cut. So sad so instead of taking it on the chin you take your school and coaches to court. Jnr./High School/College/Pro sport is just stupid at the moment what happended to 'bad luck, so sad' 'try again next' 'when served lemons, make lemonade'

posted by bballcoachreid at 09:04 PM on May 03

Hey, I wonder if I will have a case when this is over? Let's see....I played (or should I say, got a uniform, shagged a lot of flies during BP, and warmed a bench seat) as a walk-on where I spent most of my college time. (However, it was only for one year.) Due to the fact that I dated a girl whose father was a Bird-dog scout for a MLB team, I was given an opportunity to attend a MLB camp. Let's for one moment NOT take into consideration that I was not as good as most of the other players attending the camp. Let's ignore the fact that I probably could not hit a 95 mph fastball, even if my life depended on it. Let's take away the fact that I was probably faster than only, maybe, 5% of the players who were in the try-outs. Maybe, just maybe, I can find someone to sue over the potential millions that I could have been making as a MLB player (because of course, I would NEVER have had to spend any time in the minor leagues...God forbid). Then of course, I would have gone on to take Tommy's place as manager of the Dodgers, or maybe even still be managing today instead of Mr. Joe Torre. Yes...this is out of line. I have to sue someone. This can't be happening to me. SOMEBODY HAS TO PAY! No. Of course as a male, all the Title IX's in the world will not help me. However, I am sure that I can make a case out of something, against someone, for some reason. I have to. I am sure that I was held back for some reason other than the fact that I really just wasn't as good as I thought I was. The sad part is that our taxpayer dollars are going to be used to pay for this BS lawsuit. I am sure this will go through several appeals, tie up countless court hours, take us many headlines, and by the time it is all over, the girl will be out of high school, will still not be as good as her fellow competitors, will still be crying when she is cut from her Community College team, and her mommy/daddy will still be stroking her hair and telling her that the system is what is screwing her over. (Hey, maybe Uncle Rico -from the Nepolean Dynamite movie- can work his way back to 1982 with a case like this.)

posted by BigAl4Auburn at 10:39 PM on May 03

bballcoachreid: what would you say in a situation where boys had eight different sports to choose from, but girls only had one and she wanted to play a different sport? Would you still be saying, "when served lemons, make lemonade" then?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:42 PM on May 03

No. Of course as a male, all the Title IX's in the world will not help me. A very brief tutorial for the underinformed: Title IX deals with equal access for males and females to educational programs that receive federal funding. It does not say that girls and women get all the goodies, it does not say that boys and men can't bring a suit if they have a gender-discrimination case...and it does not apply to major league baseball, which, last I checked, was not a federally-funded educational program. If it did, well, we'd once again have a League of our Own. Oh, and BTW, BigAl: it may interest you to know that boys have indeed gained access to sports and sports teams through voluntary Title IX compliance (I don't know offhand about lawsuits). My local high school's field hockey team and girls' tennis team each play against teams that include boys on their rosters. Those boys requested to play and were granted spots on the team because of Title IX. If Title IX weren't around, they'd simply have been told to go take a hike.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:52 PM on May 03

My local high school's field hockey team and girls' tennis team each play against teams that include boys on their rosters. Those boys requested to play and were granted spots on the team because of Title IX. If Title IX weren't around, they'd simply have been told to go take a hike. Then the teams are not really "girls tennis teams" then are they? Perhaps "co-ed team" would be a better term? The point that I was attempting to make really had nothing to do with Title IX but with the fact that there are many people who do not want to take responsibility for the fact that maybe, just maybe, they really are not of the highest caliber when it comes to athletics, academics, etc. Perhaps they should either get out on the practice field and work their asses off so that next year they can make the team, or they should give up. Michael Jordan is a prime example of how "HARD WORK" can pay off. Scottie Pippen is another example. Both of these guys missed the cut at some point in their early basketball days (either in H.S. or in college,) yet there are few with as many championship rings as these two. It just seems that there are so many people who want to have every excuse in the book regarding why they are not the grand pupa, champion, king of their sport. When the reality is that there may actually be better athletes that they are facing. The issue about me and my fantasy MLB stardom was only that....a fantasy. I have to face reality and understand that all of the laws, excuses, what-ifs, etc. are really just things that attempt to shine the light on other ares besides the fact that I may not be as good of a baseball player as the Derek Jeters, Chipper Jones', Garrett Andersons, Cal Ripkens, etc. Heck, I DO believe that I could probably do better than Jose Canseco, simply due to the fact that I have never let a ball bounce off my head and go over the fence. However, no matter how good I was, I was never in the same league as 99.999% of the MLB talent that actually made it to the limelight.

posted by BigAl4Auburn at 02:54 AM on May 04

BigAl, we're not talking about pro sports here; we're talking about high school athletics. She's not complaining that she got cut, she's complaining that there wasn't a junior varsity team for her to play on so at least she had an opportunity to experience the fun of sport. if the guys have an ability to get cut from the varsity team and still play on the "B" team, why shouldn't the girls? That's her argument, not that it's not fair that she doesn't get to play for the top team. If there are enough players to warrant it, there should be a junior varsity women's team. If there isn't, that's the breaks, but I have a hunch a parent/lawyer/administrator would have let her know that before she went to court.

posted by dfleming at 05:24 AM on May 04

I wrote, by way of example: My local high school's field hockey team and girls' tennis team each play against teams that include boys on their rosters. Those boys requested to play and were granted spots on the team because of Title IX. If Title IX weren't around, they'd simply have been told to go take a hike. And BigAl replied: Then the teams are not really "girls tennis teams" then are they? Perhaps "co-ed team" would be a better term? Better in what sense? Better philosophically? Better in terms of proper diction? Perhaps, but for all practical purposes, "girls' teams" is the best label, since the tennis team I'm thinking of -- and I believe the field hockey team as well -- are the only ones in their league that have boys on the roster. The cases are two different examples of an accomodation that's part of how the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association allows schools to comply with Title IX: if a student wants to play a sport that's offered at that school, but not for that student's gender, the student has the option to play on the opposite-gender team, with tryouts and the whole shebang. Other states' athletic associations do things differently, and as I said earlier in the thread, there's a real hodgepodge of standards for Title IX compliance. One that I suspect is never used in practice, however, is money -- because if it was, football would get cut way down. They don't say in the article, but I wouldn't be surprised if "football economics" weren't at the root of this particular case. If it's typical of most schools, football is getting a disproportionate share of the budget, and has a JV team, maybe even a freshman team, possibly better facilities, and several more coaches than any other team. It may be that there are not enough interested girls to make up a JV volleyball team at this school. It's kind of hard to know, since such a program hasn't been offered; OTOH, the enrollment of Grand Junction High School is more than three times that of my local high school, which has a girls' volleyball JV, so I suspect lack of interest isn't the issue. An equally likely scenario is that it's at least partly a funding issue, and that funding a football JV team means there's no money for any number of other programs, including a girls' volleyball JV. How important is this case? Well...I don't think, as you do, that it's just a whiny kid who's not getting her way. Let's not forget, JV programs are where high school athletes get a chance to develop skills and experience. You criticize the girl for not being willing to take responsibility for not being able to make the varsity, but how well do you think most high school football teams would function if they didn't have a JV? How many boys wouldn't make the cut if the first bar that they had to get over was a varsity tryout? You'd think it absurd if they didn't have some reasonable chance to develop skills to play at the varsity level -- if girls don't have the same chance, isn't it pretty clearly a case of unequal opportunity? I'm inclined to agree with dfleming: I doubt that she would have even brought the suit -- which, contrary to your beliefs, is not taxpayer-funded; her lawyer isn't getting paid by "our taxpayer dollars" -- if she were just a pouty kid who couldn't make the team. I think you need to lay off the character assassination; you don't know anything about this girl, so maybe you ought to stop characterizing her as a lazy whiner who doesn't want to take responsibility for the fact that she's not varsity material -- yet.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:30 AM on May 04

Too lite of an article to make a call on this one.

posted by rainbaby at 08:11 AM on May 04

"which, contrary to your beliefs, is not taxpayer-funded; her lawyer isn't getting paid by 'our taxpayer dollars'" True, but there will be taxpayer dollars used in defending the suit. On another aspect, I'd certainly want to know what other sports at her school have or don't have B-teams. (Remembering my high school days, most of our teams kept enough players on hand to field more than one team, but the only one that actually played B-team games was boys' basketball. Occasionally, other sports would essentially play the B-team as the varsity against hopelessly outgunned opponents, and exhibition matches would be arranged when possible between extra wrestlers or tennis players.)

posted by silverpie at 08:24 AM on May 04

Well, put LBB. This girl has nothing really to gain by filing this suit, except improving her school for the girls who come after her. Sometimes unfair discrimination does exist, and without people willing to take a stand against it, we can never hope to improve our society.

posted by bperk at 08:25 AM on May 04

If she only wants to play for the fun of the game then quit wasting time with a frivilous lawsuit and go find a Rec league.

posted by scottypup at 08:32 AM on May 04

Sadly, this is an incomplete story that was posted just to generate this kind of discussion. The reporter did not answer any of the questions I have. A- Size and affluence of the school. B- Policy regarding participation on JV TEAM. C- Student's athletic history. D- School's current compliance record with Title IV. With just a little web search, I found that Grand Junction High School DOES have a JV Volleyball team, and even a Freshman team. Now, back in the day, when I played, a SENIOR was not generally allowed to play on the Junior Varsity team because it is treated as a developmental team, not a place for Seniors who can't make the "A" team. You knew that as a Freshman and definitely knew that as a Senior. But I cannot say what Grand Junction's policy is, as I am not a reporter, just a reader. I feel the reporter could at least have made a call or two. BTW, since when does "opportunity"--which was provided by the tryout--mean guaranteed participation? I am not making a statement about Title IX, because I support it and believe all honest efforts must be made. But to automatically assume that the school district is out of compliance (or for that matter, in compliance) is not for us to say, since we aren't there. This is an incomplete story that should have been rejected by the editor. It does answer, albeit minimally, the big "W" questions, it does not place them in context nor provide anything more than basic information. THIS is the problem with internet reporting because everyone is in a race to make a splash with their news. SI, a page I LOVE, should do a better job of making sure the story is fully vetted. But that's just THIS reader's opinion. What do I know...

posted by JustADude at 09:15 AM on May 04

Its sad that in this world poeple feel they are owed something by their schools, government, or anyone for that matter. Yes we all pay taxes, and we should receive benifit for our input. If you are upset with your school go to a different one. Schools recieve extra tax dollars if they feild more teams. If there are enough JV quality girls to have a team then they can have a team. I went to a High School that had A freshman A,B, and C basketball teams, 2 JV teams, and a Varsity for Guys. But the girls had a JV team and a varsity team. Wow doesnt that sound unfair. It does just based on that knowlege. There were many girls that went home crying because they werent as talented as others. They wondered why the guys have more teams to play on. The answer was that the other schools in the district didnt have teams to play against. They were in the same boat. It sucks for the girls who never got to play, but instead of litigating your way on to a team, why not try working harder, or heres a thought. Try something different.

posted by jamesasteven at 01:27 PM on May 04

What's sad is the attitude that she should do nothing about inequalities or unfairness at her school. With an attitude like that, we would still have segregated schools. The legal system is designed to deal with inequities. If some school or organization has a policy that is discriminatory or illegal, you are supposed to fight it. You aren't just supposed to try something different or find somewhere else to play or change schools. Fighting for what is fair and right is a quality to be admired. Every lawsuit filed is not frivolous or a symptom of our litigious society.

posted by bperk at 02:12 PM on May 04

bperk and lbb and dfleming, I like what you said and I like how you said it. There's a time and a place for just shrugging off bad news--lots of people like to think that's what they'd do because they're just tougher or something. But this situation is not one of those times. She thinks the system is unjust, and she's taking action to fix it, probably at a cost to her. What's the problem with that? I also like, but in a different way, how big BigAl said "why they are not the grand pupa"

posted by Uncle Toby at 04:22 PM on May 04

I also like, but in a different way, how big BigAl said "why they are not the grand pupa" Yeah, and they oughta get over it. Why, even a little cocoon can become a beeyootiful butterfly. It's just a matter of taking personal responsibility, getting over your shortcomings, and working harder.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:32 PM on May 04

We live in such a litigious society in this country, it makes me sick. Everyone with their hands out because they've somehow been treated unfairly. People looking to sue because they've had the wind blown up their ass is one of the reasons the health care system in this country is so screwed. Give me a fucking break. I started playing soccer as a 12 year old in Dallas in 1970 for my jr. high school. We had to play under the school name and wear school colors but guess what...soccer wasn't considered a UIL sport so we had to pay for our uniforms, referees, insurance, transportation and practice on our own time because we weren't included in the athletics program, which was a far cry than the treatment I received as a football player at the same school. Sure, maybe we felt a bit slighted but what the hell...we just got in with it. It was a different world then and you didn't go looking for someone to sue just because you didn't get your way. This sort of "bias" lasted until my senior year in high school when finally soccer was recognized as part of the athletics program. Looking back, we consider ourselves pioneers in putting the sport on the map. Oh, and when we were finally included the UIL also included a girls soccer team even though they were only in their second year. Didn't bother us any...we were glad for the girls to ride our coattails. And for the record...I've never voted for a Republican president.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 08:16 AM on May 05

I am the mother involved in this lawsuit. We are not suing because my daughter was not good enough to make the Varsity team. (Although 2 of the coaches who were at tryouts, stated that she was.) As many schools and school districts do, the AD at this school is for football, anything else is just another sport. Also, this AD has an ego problem (popular opinion about him). When someone brings an issue to his attention, and he doesn't want the status quo to change - he finds a way to eliminate your child from the athletic programs provided. Unfortunately, the way he chose to eliminate my daughter (because we had asked for the Varsity coaches resignation the year prior because she was drinking beer while being responsible for 20 girls at VBall camp - she did resign btw), was to make the standards for making the team different for her than others. The new coach, who had previously been the JV coach, did not determine who was on the JV team and who was on the Varsity team. His only determination was that a Senior could not play on the JV team and therefore must be designated to the Varsity team. Because of the transportation available to the girls volleyball program, the coach was only allowed to take 18 girls at any one time to away games. Thus, the coach had to cut girls who were very capable of playing volleyball at the high school level. The school district provides charter buses to transport the football teams. None of the schools within the district cut any male athlete who wants to play football. In fact, they even allow the males who are seniors, who are not good enough to play on the varsity team "the opportunity" to play on the JV team. Title IX, does not guarentee a spot on any athletic team for any athlete. But what it does guarentee is that the female and male athletes will both be treated equitably. This school district has a ratio of nearly 10% more male athletes than female athletes. According to Title IX, this should mean that the school district has a total enrollment of somewhere near 8.5 - 10% more males enrolled. However, there is actually about 1.5 - 2% more females enrolled within the district. These numbers are way out of compliance. The school district has offered to pay us back our attorney's fees if we drop this thing right now. Of course they do not want to accept any non-compliance issues regarding Title IX. And thus far this lawsuit has cost my husband and I about $21,000.00 out of our own pocket. We have had some other people offer to help us out financially so that we do not let this issue rest. And of course there are also those who think that because she is now no longer attending high school that we should just turn our backs to the issues. Someone has to stand up - I stood up to the district administration, and because they have had years / centuries of experience getting rid of the "trouble makers", they ignored our pleas. The next step was to go to their governing agency - The Federal Board of Education and ask for help. This was done a year ago now. They allowed the school district several extra months to compile the information they needed to hand over to the investigators. This could have been resolved (and according to the rules) should have been resolved with in 180 days. That is why we took it to the lawsuit stage. So that someone would have to reslove the issues. However, as we have had our 1st court appointment, the judge who has precided over other Title IX cases here in the State of Colorado says that these lawsuits get very emotional - he wants us (both sides) to settle this case. We want policy changes, we want equity and unfortunately that would mean the school district will have to admit they are wrong. It is going to be a lot of BS. But we were determined to not walk away from this thing when we filed the lawsuit - and as draining as it has been, we are not going to settle monetarily for our attorney fees at this time. We would like the school district to put some effort into becoming compliant!

posted by Athletes Mom at 08:14 AM on September 12

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