I played tennis at Northeastern University in the early 1970s. Title IX was in its infancy and reflected a culture that viewed women as not just the weaker gender but also the less capable one. I recall numerous instances (Boston College tailgates, Red Sox games) where I found myself with a guy or group of guys who seemed almost offended by my love of sports. Attempts to engage in a sports-related conversation often were met with silence. I could spot these guys a mile away and accepted their ignorance for what it was. The misogyny and clear lack of regard for women was not subtle; it reflected a societal view that became the underpinnings of decades of domestic violence, gender discrimination, and more.
It would be years before women were even remotely accepted, especially in fields such as education, journalism, and medicine. “White male” privilege would permeate our lives, most notably in the form of continued denigration of women and minority groups, especially in sacred spaces like the men’s locker room. Recent stories, such as a Globe report on the Danvers High School hockey team, which have uncovered what appears to be a climate of homophobia and hate speech in these settings cannot be explained away as poor sportsmanship on the part of young players.
I am in the process of completing the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Fundamentals of Coaching course, a step on my way to hopefully coaching high school tennis. Teacher-coaches are expected to carefully read and understand the MIAA manual as they navigate the training course.
One item in the handbook, under “Coaches’ Education,” struck me as odd and somewhat disturbing: “All coaches hired prior to 1998 are exempt from the Fundamental of Coaching Course.” Are these not the individuals who we worry may be embedded in this system? One might argue that they require more oversight, not less.
Dr. Mary Ellen Mustone