A level playing field

    Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

    I’ve been a fan of various competitive sports at designated levels for decades; but that interest has ebbed and flowed throughout my adult life. As a young man, I watched countless professional football and baseball games on television. Curiously, I’ve never been a fan of professional basketball and can honestly say I’ve never watched a complete professional basketball game from start to finish. 

    However, college basketball is another matter, especially this time of year. Each March, I spend as much time as I can allow watching the NCAA men’s tournament, but beyond the University of Wyoming, as of this moment, I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the heralded players from schools like Kentucky or North Carolina. I am assuming when the tournament starts, I’ll be a little more in the know.


    Recently I’ve taken more of an interest in women’s college basketball. Youtube is my friend in that regard, as I can take a few minutes and watch the highlights of any number of women’s games and get a sense of the best teams and players. Caitlyn Clark, of Iowa, has captured the headlines of late by becoming the highest scoring women’s player in collegiate history. Watching her and Paige Bueckers from the University of Connecticut has opened my eyes into the huge increase in popularity of women’s basketball in particular, and women’s sports in general, in this country since I was an undergrad student over forty-five years ago.

    With the passage of Title IX in 1972, the popularity and participation in women’s sports has steadily increased to the point where, in some collegiate sports, women’s names are more recognizable than their male counterparts. I offer Olivia Dunne, a female gymnast from Louisiana State University, who incidentally is the third highest paid college athlete from her Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) proceeds, as an example. Only the sons of Lebron James and Deion Sanders earn more according to, and I would venture a guess, had their last names not been James and Sanders, their earnings would not be nearly as much, as Bronny and Shedeur are not even the best players in their respective conferences, let alone the whole country.

    Lebron and Deion certainly have the right to be proud of their sons, not just because of their earning potential, but because to become as talented as their children are, they had to have spent thousands of hours in preparation for the next upcoming game, learning and practicing their craft and developing the never overrated human characteristic of perseverance. But pride should be no stranger to millions of other parents whose children participate in organized sports, regardless of their talent level.

    As the father of two girls, I am most proud of my two daughters’ educational accomplishments. Much of their success can be attributed to having great teachers. Progressing through the Lander public schools, they reaped the rewards of experiencing great educators: teachers like Michelle Woodruff, Kurt Muth, MaryAnne Steele, Mike Duffy, Mark Haskins, Roger Mork, Carrie Johnson, Donna Spurlock, John Forsythe and many others that time and my fading memory do not allow me to recall. Each one was a gift.


    But their education was not confined to within the walls of the schools themselves. As parents, we encouraged our children participate in other extracurricular activities, where they experienced the dedication of coaches, teachers by another name, starting in elementary school when they danced after school, and then on into junior high and high school: individuals like Susan Cooper, Bruce Gressley, Bob Harms, Norm Cessna, Dave Slovisky, Emily Tilden and many others I’ve sadly not remembered.

    By the time they entered the University of Wyoming, they were as prepared as any other student from the state of Wyoming could be. From their undergraduate years through postgraduate programs, medical school for Erin and law school for Paige, they owe a good portion of their success to the wonderful education they received in the Lander public schools, and for those reasons, I am extremely grateful to all those men and women who chose to make Lander their homes and who also chose to become dedicated to the professions of teaching and coaching.

    When Erin stands on the sidelines at Camp Randall, ready to care for an injured player, during a University of Wisconsin football game, and when Paige stands in a courtroom and argues her side of a criminal case, I know that part of the credit for their accomplishments can be shared by all of the outstanding adults who guided them along the way, both in the classroom and in the athletic arena, those truly selfless individuals who helped them understand and fulfill the true meanings of perseverance and determination.


    For my daughters and countless other young women like them, their professional and financial success can also be attributed in a large part to Civil Rights legislation passed in 1972 that put girls and women on equal athletic footing with boys and men in any educational institution that receives federal funding. Since its inception, Title IX has helped millions of women reach their athletic and educational potential. Without Title IX, many thousands of girls who were raised in homes without the financial means to provide for a college education now can boast of a college degree, and as a country, we should be proud of all the contributions they have made to improve the well-being of their communities and of our nation after their athletic endeavors ended.

    Title IX has helped create a more diverse and stronger nation by providing equal athletic and scholarship opportunities for fifty percent of our population; and given that success, as a nation, we should not shy away from discussing other civil rights legislation that might help other underserved demographic populations achieve their professional and financial potential, legislation that requires effort and accountability from its beneficiaries, similar to Title IX. Handouts provide no lasting benefits.

    We are a diverse nation and we will become more diverse as time rolls on. That increasing diversity can make us a stronger society in every important way if we can find the will to provide the means for equal opportunity for all.


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