Students: IM scoring policy is sexist

BY TREVOR CALERO
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 21, 2008

Those who opposed the University's use of point-based affirmative action in admissions might bristle at the calculus that takes place on Mitchell Field during some of the University's intramural soccer games.

JENNIFER KRON / Daily

If a male striker on a co-ed soccer team scores, his goal counts for one point. If a female player does the same, it’s worth two.

In several other co-ed sports at the University, including basketball, flag football and ultimate frisbee, women receive more points than men for the same accomplishments. The practice has raised questions among some students, who say the policy assumes that female players need help competing with their male peers.

On Wednesday, Steven Benson, LSA Student Government representative, will introduce a resolution to the council that aims to change that.

“If it passes, a letter will be sent to the University that shows LSA Student Government doesn’t approve of this policy,” he said. “Our governing body will voice our discontent.”

The more competitive league within the IM Sports System doesn’t have any scoring disparity. But the “B” league, in which teams are generally less experienced, has different scoring standards for men and women.

In "B" level, the 2008-2009 Intramural Rules rulebook states, “Men score two points per field goal and one point per free throw. Women score three points per field goal and one point per free throw.” It goes on to say that “a ‘three-point’ shot made is worth four points for a woman.”

Benson said he grew frustrated by the scoring difference while playing IM soccer last year. After discussing the matter with Kim Buddin, a fellow LSA-SG representative and vice chair of the council's multicultural affairs committee, the two decided the disparity should be addressed.

“We didn’t think it was fair that women have to adhere to this rule,” Benson said. “It’s generalizing that all girls aren’t as good as guys at sports.”

Benson said the rule’s inequity is particularly striking when a scorer’s gender changes the outcome of a close game.

“It’s frustrating when you’re (up) by one and you end up losing when a girl scores,” he said.

Benson and Buddin met with Nicole Green, assistant director for the Intramural Sports Program, to discuss the scoring policy that they felt was “outdated” and “sexist.”

Green said the University relies "heavily" on a couple of sports organization's policies with regards to IM rules. She said the program pulls from the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, a national organization for collegiate intramural and recreational sports and National Federation of High School.

But according to the intramural rules section on the NIRSA website, the rules are only a “suggestion.”

“Many of the examples provided are guidelines developed and used at other colleges/universities,” the website states. “NIRSA recognizes the fact that there is national diversity of programs, and some situations/rules may be neither appropriate nor feasible for every institution.”

Green said the University is not the only school that follows the NIRSA guidelines for IM sports.

“Every other school and university that I know does this,” she said.

Green said the University addressed this concern by creating the "A" league, which gives equal points for men and women.

Other U.S. colleges and universities are mixed on the matter. Intramural leagues at Harvard University and Northwestern University, for example, makes no distinctions between points scored by men and women.

The University of California at Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison use policies similar to those used at the University of Michigan.

Green said one reason the policy is in place is to make up for the fact that some high schools don’t offer certain sports for women.

Normally Benson and Buddin would just present the issue to the student government tomorrow and voting would take place a week later.

Benson said he wanted student government to vote on the issue immediately, calling the issue "urgent."

Even if the resolution is approved, though, Green said the move would be a binding one.

“I don’t think a resolution from student government would change,” she said. “The IM sports department is not under student government.”

LSA senior Jenny Kurnit, an IM soccer player, said she thinks the University's policy should be changed. She said she plays on a co-ed team that features women who all played varsity soccer in high school -- something none of her male teammates did.

"It's an assumption that the guys are going to be better athletically than women," Kurnit said.