The parson took a deep breath, following the washing of the dishes after the completion of the gourmet dinner he’d prepared (he’d provide the recipe but it would make too many jealous), then he moved into his study, powered up the computer, clicked on PBS, and then selected “American Masters: Billie Jean King.”
The program brought memories of how the parson’s life changed the day after Christmas in 1967, when his daughter arrived. Three years later, Billie Jean King convinced nine of the top professional women tennis players to organize the Women’s Professional Tennis Association. Nine of the top players - Billie Jean King Rosemary “Rosie” Casals, Kristy Pigson, Jane “Peaches” Bartkowicz, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Kerry Melville, Julie Heldman, Nancy Richey, and Judy Dalton - withdrew from the existing professional tennis organization in protest against male player making ten to twenty times as much money in the same events.
Two years later, when the parson’s daughter was five, the United States Congress passed Title IX, which provided for the inclusion of women’s sports in educational institutions.
In 1973, when the parson’s daughter was six, Billie Jean King kicked Bobby Rigg’s ass.
You’d think acceptance of women in sports would by this point become a foregone conclusion.
But change in sports comes almost as slow as accepting women int he pulpit. In the 1982, because there was no female soccer team at the parson’s daughter’s high school, she tried out for the boy’s team. On the last day of the tryouts, the coach cut her. At a team meeting of the returning players from the previous year, some of the male players said to the coach, “But, coach, she was better than the ones you accepted.” The coach replied, “Yeah, but she’s a girl.”
Two days later, the parson was in the office of the Assistant Superintendent of Schools, not a good friend but an acquaintance of the parson. The parson said, “Okay, Herman, hear me out on this. First, I’ll give you a two statements. And then I’ll ask you two questions. the first statement is this: “Coach Jefferson cut my daughter from playing on the soccer team. The second statement is: When the returning players protested she was better than those not cut, he answered in front of eighteen witnesses, ‘Yeah, but she’s a girl.’ Now, Herman, here are the two questions. The first is this: Have you heard about Title IX? The second is this: Do you want to talk to me or my lawyer?”
Two weeks later girls’ soccer was institute in the system the parson’s daughter was a student. Looking back on it, the parson considers it one of his better moments.