Equity In Iowa Athletics

Photo Credit - University of Iowa

Photo Credit – University of Iowa

The Iowa City Community School District board of directors named a proposed elementary school after Christine Grant. Who?

Grant ranks equally in the pantheon of Hawkeye sports figures, but one wouldn’t know it.

Title IX is these 37 words, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” President Nixon signed the law on June 23, 1972, and Grant was hired the following year, appointed the first Iowa women’s athletic director. As much as any one person can, she advanced the notion of gender equity in athletics.

During a conversation with School Board Director Brian Kirschling last night, he remarked that it was unusual to name a school after a living person, but in Grant’s case, it was merited because of her contributions to society and the role model she represented.

As an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, I attended one of the first public events for Chalmers W. “Bump” Elliott at the Iowa Memorial Union in 1970. Some of the coaches he hired are more recognizable than Grant. They include Dan Gable, Hayden Fry, Lute Olson, C. Vivian Stringer and Tom Davis. I’m not a sports fan, and had not heard of Grant with any specificity until the school was named after her this year. More’s the pity.

Why is it we’ve heard of Bump Elliott, but not Christine Grant? Some readers will say they have, but the fundamental discrimination of women in athletics is something that was real, and continues to be real. The discrimination against women is not just in athletics, and is fitting that elementary school students will learn more about her.

Link to Grant’s thank you to the school board here. The clip includes Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder, who said, “kids growing up in our community don’t understand what she has done.”

It is time all of us learned more about the contributions of women to sports and everything else in society. It is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

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