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Film Series to Highlight Women’s Roles in Athletics

Providence, R.I. -- A month-long film and speaker series about women in sports will begin at Providence College on Thursday, March 1, with the showing of the documentary A Hero for Daisy and a talk by Lynette Labinger, a Providence lawyer who was chief counsel in a Title IX test case.

The film and speaker series, which is part of the College’s SPORT:ART celebration, is free and open to the public. Labinger will speak at 7:00 p.m. in Moore Hall, followed by a reception at 7:30 p.m. and the film at 8:00 p.m.

The series also commemorates Women’s History Month and the 40th anniversary of PC’s women’s athletics program. It is a collaboration of the Department of Athletics, the Department of Art and Art History, and the Department of Women’s Studies, and is part of the curriculum of two courses, Introduction to Women’s Studies and Women and the Media.

“The series pairs four major guest speakers with films directly related to their contributions to women in sport,” explained Dr. Deborah J. Johnson, professor of art and art history and women’s studies and an organizer of SPORT:ART.

“The series opens with a documentary film and speaker on the subject of the important Title IX legislation that leveled the playing field of opportunity for women athletes in education. The rest of the series goes on to highlight the early history of women in sport and the sometimes difficult relationship dynamic between women in sport, their families, and their love interests.”

The first film, A Hero for Daisy, is a 1999 award-winning documentary that profiles two-time Olympian Chris Ernst, who in 1976 led the women’s crew team at Yale University in a protest of the lack of locker room facilities available to them.

Title IX protest

Labinger was chief counsel in Cohen vs. Brown University, a case that challenged Brown’s 1991 decision to cut funding for women’s volleyball and gymnastics, along with two men’s teams. Labinger represented student-athletes who argued that dropping the women’s programs would violate Title IX, the federal legislation enacted in 1972 that required any educational institution receiving federal aid to provide equality in programming.

Brown argued that it complied with Title IX by “allocating athletic opportunities to women in accordance with the ratio of interested and able women to interested and able men.” When the lower courts disagreed and ordered the women’s programs reinstated, Brown and other colleges appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case in 1997.

Since the decision, colleges and universities have complied with Title IX by providing athletic teams for women and men in proportion to their enrollment.  

Other films and speakers are:

• March 8: Whip It is a 2009 movie about a teenager in Texas who joins a roller derby league instead of participating in beauty pageants, as her mother wishes. Meghan Follett, who competes in the Providence Roller Derby league, and her mother, Katherine Follett, will be the guest speakers.

• March 22: A League of Their Own was released in 1992 and stars Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, and Lori Petti. It is the story of two sisters who join the first women’s baseball league in the 1940s. The speaker will be Wilma Briggs, the Rhode Island native who played left field in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1948-1954. 

• March 29: Girlfight is a 2000 film about a troubled teenager who channels her aggression by training as a boxer, despite the objections of her father, boyfriend, and boxing trainers, and becomes a champion. The speaker will be Dr. John Sullivan, a clinical sports psychologist who is a consultant in sports psychology and applied sports science to the PC Department of Athletics.

All events will be held in Moore Hall with the featured speaker lecturing at 7:00 p.m., a reception at 7:30 p.m., and the film showing at 8:00 p.m.

-- Vicki-Ann Downing

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