Sunday, May 13, 2007

Athletes lose scholarships for becoming mommies

A University of Memphis student has learned the hard way that sex-based discrimination isn't just a political problem. It's a biological reality, with impact in the business and academic world.

Like the other young women who attend U Memphis on a full athletic scholarship, Cassandra Harding signed an agreement that, if she became pregnant, she would lose her scholarship.

She got pregnant.

She lost her scholarship.

Quel surprise.

Of course, One of her teammates is now complaining that the male athletes can have kids and still be on the teams, still get their cash, still attend classes, so why is it that females are singled out?
''There are guys on our team that have babies. Why wouldn't they have to follow the same rule?'' [Gail] Lee asked.
I gather that she didn't have a supplemental academic scholarship, if she thinks guys have babies. Or, maybe Memphis has something going on we should look into...

I don't suppose Ms. Lee ever bothered to look down at her body and d0 the math?

When a woman gets pregnant, her body undergoes dramatic changes in shape and capability -- many are temporary, of course, but nonetheless, a college athletic program usually is expecting your best athletic performance during the academic year. If you've added thirty-five pounds of baby fat and are waddling across the field, it makes most coaches doubt you'll be up to speed this Tuesday for the hurdles.

If you can't play because of something you did that was entirely preventable (and unrelated to the game), the coach and the school should have every right to deem you in breach of contract, and boot you out. If a guy goes out drinking, falls off a balcony and breaks his leg and arm, he's not going to be starting pitcher this baseball season. The position on the team should go to someone slightly more responsible and totally capable, and with the position should go the money.

Fortunately, pregnancy is a temporary condition (in most women). Once Ms. Harris had given birth and sufficiently recovered from the stresses to her body, she was able to rejoin her team. So, all she really lost was a little time.

And, if you're going to fool around while young and fertile, that's a pretty small loss, indeed.

Now, though, comes the end of my heartless moment of young-mommy-bashing. Even though the university was wholly within its rights to make clear and to enforce such restrictions within their athletic scholarship program, it would be nice if more academic institutions were prepared to deal with mothers who wish to continue their educations. Very few colleges or universities in this country have on-campus daycare programs for the babies of undergrads. I realize a big problem with trying to establish such a program costs money -- especially when one has to factor in liability insurance.

Nevertheless, in a society where the so-called liberals in academia keep pronouncing "pro-choice" is the only rational perspective, shouldn't students be given a choice as to whether or not they should carry a child to term? If your options are abort and attend classes to advance your future career or give birth and be stuck in a McJob (or worse) until the adoption papers are signed or until the kid turns 21 and moves out, is that really much of a choice? Where is the "I'll go for educated motherhood" choice? Where is the support for young student mothers, from among the left-academics?

Are these the only people liberal enough to support young mothers' continuing to learn and grow?

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