When viewed in the context of equal treatment, Title IX is a laudable achievement. Women and girls have benefited from more athletic participation opportunities, more equitable facilities, more athletic scholarships, and greater access to higher education. Studies have also found that girls’ sports participation has a direct positive effect on women’s education, employment and health later in life.

But when looked at from another perspective, Title IX may not be quite so benign.

The focus on women is clearly a reaction to centuries of neglect and discrimination. But my concern is that, in redressing one problem, we may be creating another. Just look at the 2009 agreement by the University of California-Davis to bring female participation in varsity sports closer to the actual percentage of female students on campus. That’s a noble objective, but severe budget problems in California and growing college enrollment among women combined to cause a significant decline in support for male varsity sports. And that combination –- Title IX goals and budget woes –- may open up a Pandora’s Box of problems.

Keep in mind: Females now outnumber males in higher education by about 3 to 2; the recent recession was harder on men than it was on women; and boys typically have lower grades in school and higher dropout rates compared to girls. So the lack of support for male sports -– real and perceived -- may cause resentment among boys. And who can blame them? This is not only happening at the high school level and beyond, but much earlier in life, too. In many circles –- and in many classrooms –- the restless energy of young males is increasingly seen as deviant or abnormal. Early on, these energies –- which are very normal –- are being suppressed.

Perhaps this is one reason why Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in the United States and is rapidly spreading elsewhere. Rather
than addressing the problem head-on, schools have resorted to increasing the level of pharmaceutical drugs as a way to help treat young people with “socially unacceptable” behavior. Sorry, but drugging them is not the answer.

So what is the answer? If, as many believe, sports and games were originally devised as a way for males to get rid of all that extra testosterone, cutting back on opportunities for young men to do those things may not be good in the long run. In fact, it could be dangerous -- especially for us women.

Activities that channel the energies of males will not abate; they will just change. We’ll see fewer pickup games and more Vegas bachelor parties. We’ll see less team sports and more extreme sports. Those who wonder why MMA has become so popular in such a short time might now have a new theory.

But the ripple effect will also hit successful mainstream sports. If men’s athletic programs suffer sustained cutbacks, we will see an even stronger interest in individual sports that boys and young men can pursue on their own –- at the expense of major team sports.

And the growing number of foreign players in American sports will not slow. Pro scouts may have to look even harder for top-notch talent. This could include mining other sports for talent, as the Chargers did when they found Antonio Gates playing basketball at Kent State. Or it could mean scouring nations like China, where men’s sports are supported more than ever. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, unless Olympic medal count and world championship titles are deemed important to our nation’s self-image.

Title IX was a landmark decision with some wonderful results. But women who shake their heads at pudgy guys who play fantasy sports may need to stop hating the player and start hating the lack of games.

-- Follow Erica Orange on Twitter at @ErOrange

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Tags:
MMA, Title IX

Live Matrix founders Nova Spivack and Sanjay Reddy see a future in which sports fans can watch multiple games from multiple angles, listen to sports talk commentary and complain in live chat rooms -- all at the same time. That may describe your last weekend, but that doesn’t mean Live Matrix is behind the times.

This new site is essentially "TV Guide for the Web." It connects fans to multiple live, streaming events -- video, radio, gaming, web chats and even sales specials. It offers immediate access to current live streams as well as calendar syncing options for upcoming events.

The biggest problem for sports fans online, according to the site creators, is that they are unaware many events are available live.

Live Matrix aggregates the real-time web in a format that’s easy to understand. It links to the primary stream as well as supplemental content from across the web. The site also connects to Facebook and Twitter to bring in social elements.

But it’s not flawless. One hurdle ahead of Live Matrix is league restrictions on streaming games online. Discussions at TechCrunch Disrupt last year suggest the service may look to partner with paid platforms, like MLB.tv and NFL.com AudioPass, to become more comprehensive. A further connection to web-to-television technologies like Google TV, Roku or the new Boxee Box could position this service as a necessity for getting the most online sports content to eyes and ears.

There is also still the question of whether a TV-style guide is the right format for managing massive amounts of information. Scrolling past hundreds of channels with a TV remote can be painful. Will fans be willing to scroll past thousands upon thousands of web-based events?

One more issue: While the site is accessible on iPads and smartphones, there is no current option to mark whether events are viewable on these devices. It’s a glaring absence that needs to be remedied by the time the site leaves beta.

But Live Matrix can certainly be a fan’s friend. In a world of ubiquitous, unmanageable sports content, fans need all the help they can get.

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Tags:
Internet, TV

You’re at the ballpark and you’ve just found your seat when that sweet smell of beer and hot dogs hits you smack in the face. You don’t stand a chance against it; your will to stick with that 2,500-calorie diet is toast. You’re about to make a run for the concession stand to stuff your face when your favorite player steps up to the plate with two on and two out. Either that hot dog is gonna wait, or you’re gonna miss the game.

The people at Munchly are about to solve your conundrum in a rather simple, but genius way.

In a matter of months, select sporting venues and movie theaters will begin a pilot program allowing patrons to order from concession stands with their smart phones. Certain venues will then deliver your grub to your seat, and some will alert you when your order has been filled so that you can run up and grab it. No more waiting on lines.

Yeah, I know, you want to throw a brick at your computer screen and scream, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Sorry, Greg Pelly and Andrew Tider, the co-founders of Munchly, beat you to it. I had a chance to view a demonstration of the Munchly application at the New York Tech Meetup earlier this month. Besides being hilarious with their routine, which is part demonstration, part comedy act, they basically had the room saying, “About damn time!”

When I spoke with Greg and Andrew, they had an interesting take on the application they’d built. They called it “brain dead simple for the user and the person behind the counter.” And that’s the key here: Instead of complicated and costly computer software, all the concession stand needs is a receipt printer. Everything else takes place in the cloud, where the order is routed and payment is processed.

Munchly will collect royalties -- a dollar or two per order from the user or from the venue. Seeing as there are about 134 million stadium attendees in the U.S. and Canada per year, who spend on average $4.50 per visit for concessions, I’d say they have a pretty good business model here. As consumers, we’re used to overpaying for stuff at sporting events. What does a hot dog at Yankee Stadium cost these days, $10? It’s outrageous, but we suck it up and pay. I’m pretty sure people will throw down another dollar or two.

So why hasn’t this been done before? The answer is most likely that we have reached a tipping point in the saturation of smart phones owned by Americans. Half of us now own one, and that allows Munchly to make their case to the venues that a majority of their customers will want this experience. Personally, my iPhone has become an indispensable tool; I would be completely lost without it. From maps to news to social networking to ordering movie tickets to trading stocks to listening to music, my phone is omnipresent in my life. This is just one more use that will likely go from beyond-cool to what-did-we-ever-do-without-it.

Now someone needs to create an app for wiping mustard off my keyboard.

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In May 2010, Eric Shanks was elevated to President of Fox Sports. At 38, Shanks is believed to be the youngest Network Sports President in television history. This week, Shanks will be overseeing his first Super Bowl broadcast.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging conversation, Shanks gave us a few nuggets of information. Here are some of the highlights:

-- This telecast will use 44 cameras.

-- They will have high-tech cameras right on the sideline that can definitively tell in-bounds/out-of-bounds plays. These cameras are controlled in a robotic fashion from people in a remote location.

-- Fox will unveil new graphics.

-- The Fox robot will make an appearance on-air. (Fun Fact: the robot's name is "Cletus".)

-- Former NFL head of officiating Mike Perreira will be in the booth during the telecast. He will be off-camera but will be brought in to discuss any rule clarifications.

-- In general, this is going to be the most technically-advanced Super Bowl production in history.

We wish Eric Shanks and the team at Fox Sports all the best with Super Bowl XLV.

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