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Just Jillian… | NGWSD: What’s YOUR Dream?

Happy New Year…hopefully, your 2011 is off to a stellar start!
As I concluded in my last post, sport has laid the foundation for my dreams to come true, which then led me to urge you to think about what magical change or difference you could make for a girl or group of girls to get her and her peers active in sport and physical education. This call to action from weeks ago still feels just as relevanton the heels of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and with the 25th annual celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) happening tomorrow—Wednesday, February 2, 20011. Both of these days of honor and celebration are my motivation for this month’s musings.

This past MLK Jr. Day, I was most inspired by the many quotes that crossed my path and particularly this one, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," which I saw connecting to another one of his phrases I found, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Together these two quotes led me to yet another one that reminded me that justice and freedom is a constant struggle. Dr. King states, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.” Furthermore, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” That said, we stand on the shoulders of the numerous men AND women who fought for civil rights alongside and in conjunction with Dr. King and as we stand among giants, each step we take with passion and dedication is one step closer towards justice and freedom.

So, I ask…what’s YOUR dream? For you? Your family? Your community? The country? The world?

Similarly, when I think about NGWSD, I am reminded of the first time I celebrated the day. It was February 2004 and I was asked to speak to group of girls who had gathered at Vanderbilt University to celebrate the day. It was a special moment that I will never forget as I was given the opportunity to share knowledge of Title IX and my love of sport. What's more, it’s one of those moments I am reminded of when I read about the injustice that continues to happen within women’s sport and furthermore, when women’s sport is viewed in the larger context of sport. The fight is definitely not over as the UCONN’s women’s basketball team knows all too well when they surpassed the UCLA men's team record for consecutive wins and little fanfare was given to them nor to the Stanford’s women’s basketball team who broke their 90-game winning streak. I guess the media forgot that many sports fans are just as interested in this information or more so than the college bowl games that were ruling the airwaves.

So, I ask…what’s YOUR dream? For you? Your family? Your community? The country? The world?

Again, going back to women’s college basketball as an example of where justice in women’s sport still needs to be served, I will take a moment to highlight “a crime without a body” that’s taking place to lure student-athletes to come to their programs. That crime is negative recruiting. Simply stated, negative recruiting is “the practice of playing on stereotypes to deter recruits from attending rival athletic programs by alleging or implying that a rival coach or team members are gay or lesbian” (2010, Griffin). It’s the dirty little secret that few people want to talk about until now. ESPN The Magazine just featured an article on this very subject on their website that will be in the upcoming issue of the magazine titled, “On homophobia and recruiting.” The article does a fantastic job of discussing both sides of the argument—I suggest you read it—while making it clear that women’s sports are being left in the dust of “the inexorable sweep of change in the world beyond the court” (2011, Cyphers & Fagan).

So, I ask…what’s YOUR dream? For you? Your family? Your community? The country? The world?

I Dream...
I dream of a world that truly provides freedom & justice for all.
I dream of true equity for women where we are no longer exploited for pleasure, power, or profit.
I dream of love being the driving force in education instead of testing.
I dream of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all regardless of social identity.
I dream of the day the definition of “family” is redefined to be more inclusive.
I Dream…

Let me know your dreams by following me in between my posts here at IOU Sports:!
~ One Love

CALL 2 ACTION: Check out NGWSD Central where you can find out the History of the day, find out how to Take Action and Events taking place in your area, as well as Media information and Get Materials.

References: Cyphers, L. & Fagan, K. (2011, February 7). “On homophobia and recruiting.” ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved on January 28, 2011 from

Griffin, P. (2010). Cross campus engagement ensuring fair treatment of LGBT student-athletes: Issues and resources. NCAA Convention, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved on February 1, 2011 from

Jillian Ross

Jillian Ross is a researcher, writer and learner determined to make a difference in the world. Her work has focused on Title IX and gender equity; the intersections of identity (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc.), especially that of Black queer female student-athletes; creating safe schools and spaces for students and teachers; and more recently, educational and teacher leadership with a focus on school leadership for social justice. Although she no longer participates in competitive sports, Ross still considers herself an athlete. Her love of sport began with basketball and track, and has expanded to her current love of hiking in Tilden, working out at the YMCA, and biking around the Bay Area. Ross works and resides in Berkeley, CA with her partner of 7 years.

Ross writes a women-focused blog addressing the just & unjust in the world at