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Sports columnist gives inspirational advice

Women competing on the playing field, writing about sports and following their dreams were all topics discussed at Christine Brennan’s speech yesterday. Brennan, currently a sports columnist for USA Today, spoke on campus last night at the kickoff for “Women and Sport: Before, During and After Title IX,” a symposium focusing on all aspects of women in sports.

As an athletic girl growing up in a suburb of Toledo in the 1960s and 1970s, Brennan experienced the differences in the way girls’ and boys’ sports were treated at the time. No formal girls’ sports teams were available for her to play on until Brennan was in high school. Even then the girls had to deal with inadequate uniforms, a lack of provided transportation to away games and small audiences. When one of the boys’ teams would be hosting a game, the girls had to give up their locker room for the visiting team. The girls weren’t really offended at the time, however, because they didn’t know anything different.

“We loved it,” Brennan said. “We didn’t know what we didn’t have.”

As a high school and college student, Brennan knew she wanted to turn her love of sports and writing into a career as a sports writer. At the time, she wasn’t aware of any women in such a position. That didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream.

“I had no idea women could be sports writers,” Brennan said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept doing what I loved — I followed my dream.”

Brennan has since achieved her goal of writing about sports and more. She was the first female sportswriter at the Miami Herald, the first female to cover the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post, a television reporter for many of the Olympic games and the author of several sports-themed books.

Brennan said the reason behind her success is her love of sports and how this impacts the way she lives her life. Life can be lived much like sports can be played, she said.

“It’s all about working harder than the kid next to you,” she said.

This, Brennan said, is why gender equality in sports is so important.

“A girl is going to be a better person if she’s playing sports,” she said.

Girls who play sports tend to get better grades and are less likely to use illegal drugs, all because they have learned how to win, lose and how to play on teams, Brennan said. Because of these beliefs, she is an advocate of Title IX, an amendment adopted by the U.S. government in 1972 to ensure gender equality in educational programs, including athletics.

Brennan’s speech is the first of several events for the Women and Sport symposium, hosted by the Women’s Studies Program. Other events include presentations by various women involved in the world of womens’ sports and a panel discussion about life before Title IX. All events are free and open to the public.

“We have an amazing array of presentations,” said Vikki Krane, director of the Women’s Studies Program. “The symposium has grown far bigger and better than we ever expected.”

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