So, When You’re Dead….
Funny little tidbit I found in yesterday’s New York Times story about the death of former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. The author of the piece was going down the list of historic accomplishments of the Hoosier Dem (and, yeah, there were such things as statewide Hoosier Dems in a long, long ago world) and got to Title IX, which changed the landscape of college sports among other things. More on that 1972 federal civil rights law in a bit but eyeball this excerpt:
Title IX brought him his greatest satisfaction, Mr. Bayh said — even though many others were involved in its passage, as he acknowledged, notably Representatives Edith Green of Oregon and Patsy Mink of Hawaii.
“I’d say probably this had a more profound impact on more Americans than anything else I was able to do,” he said in a telephone interview for this obituary in 2010.
Did you catch that? “… [H]e said a telephone interview for this obituary….” How did the writer, noted NYT obituarist (yep, the word does exist) Adam Clymer, preface his interview with Bayh? “Good morning, Senator, I’m writing your obituary and I was wondering….”
It’s common knowledge that obituaries for public figures are written well in advance of their deaths. But I honestly didn’t know the writers thereof actually called their assigned subjects and said, essentially, Tell me about your life so that we can run a story about you when you drop dead.
Title IX, among many other things, ensured that women could get an equal crack at school sports. Since the federal law’s passage in ’72 female participation in school athletics had increased about 900 percent (high school) and 450 percent (college) acc’d’g to a 2006 research paper.
Thing is, colleges and universities had to figure out a way to pay for all the new female sports teams Title IX gave rise to. And since the only collegiate sports that generate revenue are football and men’s basketball, those particular sports have since become the corrupt cash cows we now know them to be. They have to bankroll all the other sports that, really, nobody goes to see.
I’ve gone to an Indiana University baseball night game a time or two and the crowds in those games couldn’t possibly have paid the bill to keep the lights on. The IU Women’s basketball team drew an average of 4,102 to its 21 home games in 2017-18, acc’d’g to official NCAA figures. At $5.00 a pop ($3 for kids aged 3-18) that’s a per game gate of, at best, $20,510. That does not pay the entire freight when you consider the tabs for uniforms, travel, food, coaches’ salaries, exercise equipment, the electric bill, balls and nets, and a hundred other invoices.
It’s up to the unpaid slaves who fill out collegiate football and men’s basketball rosters to generate enough scratch to cover every other sport’s chits. The more dough these sports earn, the more college athletics depts. get to spread among the likes of the men’s swimming and diving and women’s cross country teams.
Collegiate football and men’s basketball have become big business, of necessity, and with that come all the sins and crimes big business engenders. I’m not blaming women’s sports for this, just saying nobody in 1972 could have foreseen the fallout from this gender parity.
Here the link to yesterday’s Big Talk podcast with my guest Jean Capler, candidate for one of the three At-Large seats on the city council in this years’ Democratic primary.
Stay tuned for next week’s show with Ron Smith, who’s going toe-to-toe with another first-timer, Grazie Italiano founder Jim Blickensdorf, in the council’s District 3. Smith is a social worker who’s served on any number of national, state, and local social service agencies including the Area 10 Agency on Aging and the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group. As a side note, he and his long-time bride, Lynne Schwartzberg are huge Chicago Cubs fans, a detail that makes me want to vote for him three times, only I don’t live within the city limits.
Anyway, Big Talk airs every Thursday at 5:30pm, immediately following the Daily Local News, on WFHB, 91.3 FM. You can access the full archive of Big Talk podcasts online here.
A Delicious Odium
There’s a ton of stuff I’m proud of accomplishing, abstaining from, avoiding, or just detesting. I’ve never done heroin, for instance. Too chicken.
Another is I’ve always detested Friends. I seem to recall giving the sitcom a shot back in the ’90s. Within seconds I wanted all the characters to be wiped out by a disease or terrorists or something. I’m thinking of this because I watched an old HBO special featuring Janeane Garofalo the other day. She was riffing on the Dave Mathews Band and Hootie & the Blowfish. She said there was a certain type of person who bought their albums. The kind of person who liked Friends.
I’ve always liked Janeane Garofalo. That is, except when she donned horn-rimmed glasses and started getting all political. I just wanted to scream, “You’re not a policy wonk, for chrissakes!”
Then, last night, The Loved One and I were talking about the first sitcom we ever remember seeing as kids. For her it was The Mothers-in-Law. For me: The Hathaways. Swear to god, The Hathaways was about this California couple who for some ungodly reason raises a trio of chimps as their children. It made My Mother the Car look like the finest work of George Bernard Shaw.
Back to wanting bad things to happen to the characters in Friends. I recall thinking the exact same thing when I saw The Big Chill. I just hated those people. I hated their little problems. I hated the relationships. I hated the fact that they danced while cooking some detestable communal dinner. I prayed for evil-doers with powerful firearms to burst in and put them all out of my misery.
Does any of this make me a bad person?