tampabay.com

Table talk

By TIMES WIRES
Published February 12, 2007


In the classroom or around the dinner table at home, here's a hot topic to serve up.

Should coed sports practices be banned?

Fans may not realize it, but most top women's college basketball teams regularly practice against male classmates. The teams say the male volunteers, typically former high school varsity players, make their players tougher because they are bigger and stronger than most of the women they'll play against during the season. "It's male practice players that allow us to get better," Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer has said. But now the National Collegiate Athletic Association is considering a proposal to ban or limit the use of male practice players. Some NCAA officials think male practice players take opportunities to compete away from women's reserve players and that many teams using men then limit the number of women's scholarships they award, violating, at least in spirit, the federal Title IX policy guaranteeing equality between male and female teams. The proposal is opposed by many coaches.

Classroom/living room debates:

Scan the sports section of today's Times. Do local women's teams get more or less coverage than men's squads? If so, why do you think that is? Should women's teams practice against men? What are the advantages and disadvantages for the players? Should the NCAA set a rule, or continue to let teams decide on their own whether to use male practice players? Do girl's teams at your school practice against boys?

Go to blogs.tampabay.com/nie to read what students are saying and to share your views. You may see them published in the next Talk Back!

Talk back

Whether it is gender or ethnicity, questions about equity and fairness in sports continue to be a hot topic. In response to a recent Table Talk question on the historical significance of black head coaches in this year's Super Bowl, Youth Arts Corp student Nevada Caldwell asked this simple question: "How many women coaches are there?"

Aisha Hadley of Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg asked, "Why are these types of issues always about whites and black? Do they ever wonder why there aren't many Asian coaches, or different races in general?"

Jonathan, a Largo High School sophomore read those comments on the NIE blog and responded, "Aisha from Gibbs is right. I say anyone who works hard enough . . . can be a football coach. I also wondered why there are no Asian or other-colored coaches."

Another Largo High sophomore, Megan, had this to say: "This shouldn't really matter, whether the coaches are black or white. It just has to do with the coaching technique, which may have to do with the coach's background. Their background may change the way they coach but it has nothing to do with race. We need to stop thinking that we have so many differences in race. Yeah, you look different, but we are equal."