When we know better, we do better.

When I set out to talk about the coverage of the NDHSAA state basketball tournament, it was to shed light on the inequality of our female athletes. It was to show that our girls deserve equal footing on whatever venture that they choose to pursue. It was to honor The Huskies, The Patriots, The Eagles, The Demons, The Rough Riders, The Mustangs, The Majettes, and The Sabers.

The reality is that these athletes are the leaders of their community. These athletes have little girls who will one day pick up a basketball because of them, which is a beautiful thing that helps grow the sport. Why would anyone want to stand in the way of that?

But I feel as though the focus has shifted a little, and I don’t want to lose focus of the seminal point here.

Whatever happens for the boys’ tournament, happens to the girls’ tournament. Equality.

– If the boys are televised, then girls should be as well.

– If the boys have a chance at the main court one year, then the girls should have a chance at the main court the following year.

– It is about equality, pure and simple.

I’ve had so many awesome conversations this past weekend. I’ve spoken to Dom Izzo, I’ve spoken to the NDHSAA Board of Directors, I’ve spoken to countless members of the basketball community and media. The crazy thing there are things we can all agree on:

– When the media rights contract was signed 4-5 years ago, streaming was not a consideration, it was a relatively new technology.

– The contract is for coverage of the girls’ and boys’ semifinal and final rounds of the tournament (both to be covered equally). WDAY has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, so any additional coverage by WDAY goes above and beyond the contract.

I’m order for WDAY to pay for the above and beyond service, someone has to pay for it.

– Since the new technologies are tried and tested, it is imperative that the contract is renegotiated to ensure equal coverage. I believe that happens next year.

So there’s a start, we can agree on those things, but, realistically, it is simply not good enough. We need change.

There is enough fault to go around. We can play the blame game all we want, but here are the facts:

– Shame on the parents (myself included) for accepting the status quo and not challenging companies and entities who play into these inequalities; this has been going on for a while and we know better!

– Shame on advertisers for throwing money at entities and organizations and not educating themselves on the workings of equality in production. They know better.

– Shame on the media for not asking the hard questions and uncovering the truth about what was happening. You know better.

– Shame on the NDHSAA for not protecting our female athletes, which is one of the sole purposes of your organization. You know better.

This is on all of us.

Let me be clear:

This is not about the streaming glitches,

This is not about viewership,

This is not about money,

This is not about me,

This is not about basketball

This is not about my beloved Huskies.

This is about access,

This is about equal protection.

This is about representation.

This is about equality.

We can fix this!

Equal.

Airtime.

For.

Women.

Period.

Equal Airtime For Women

Sexist and Discriminatory.
That is the only way to describe what is going on regarding forum communications and the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s State Basketball tournament.
Let me provide context as I understand it:
The boys’ quarterfinals are televised for free, and the girls’ quarterfinals will be streamed for a price. Do you mean to tell me that in 2022, we are still under the guise that male sports sell tickets and women sports do not? Do we still have entities looking to optimize the mighty dollar instead of furthering the sport for both males and females? We still believe that males deserve visibility and females don’t?
That is a crying shame.
It is bad enough that you barely report on local prep sports anymore, but it is even worse to realize that you have formulated your coverage based upon gender.
It is shameful,
It is disgusting,
And it needs to change. Now!
I am calling on every female, every parent of daughters, every true sports fan, and every human, and advertising companies. being to demand that this be changed immediately, and a statement of apology issued to all North Dakota female athletes.
Shame on the Forum Communications company for perpetuating female athletes’ stereotypes and shame on the NDHSAA for not demanding better for our female athletes. Thirty-two teams qualified for the state basketball tournament; twenty-eight of the thirty-two will appear on Television and get the recognition they deserve for making it. Let’s flip the calendar to 2022.

The Letter She Received this Morning

Look at you! My first-born in her first varsity competition! I have dreamed about this day since you were born… although I did not think it would come this soon.

You were so nervous when you found out that you were chosen, you freaked out and started crying. You started the dangerous game of playing all of the “what if” scenarios in your head.

What if I miss?

What if I do the wrong thing?

What if I suck?

It was funny to watch such a composed girl, a girl who I have viewed countless times score baskets in numerous situations, freak out about something that seems so trivial.

But then I remember how young you are. I often forget that. You have conducted yourself in such a way that it is easy for anyone to forget that you are a year or more younger than girls in your grade.

As you are traveling to the venue, I know you are nervous, so I am going to give you some advice:

• You are going to suck; embrace it – It is your first crack at some real competition. Newsflash: you may not win. The coach believes in you but understands that you are very green. You do not have a target on your back, so you are in a low risk/high reward situation. Just go out there and compete.

• Have fun in the moment – There are many who would love to be in your shoes. Next week, it could be someone else; but today, it is all you. Live in the moment, and everything will be fine.

• Take notes – There is going to be a lot of good athletes out there. Most of them have been playing this sport a lot longer than you. Take notes on the best or the ones that you favor. Look at their routines, study their approaches, emulate their techniques so that later you can make those same techniques work for you.

• Do not try to live up to any other athletes’ standard – As I said before, these athletes have been doing this a lot longer than you have. Don’t try too hard to outplay them. You are here to gain varsity experience so that you can learn the game at a different level and with a different pace. If you make this a head game, you will be terrible. Relax, slow down, and play like this is recreational. Winning is nice, but it is not the point.

• It is really about the small victories – Playing a sport that you just picked up 2 months ago is a win; daring to join the school team is a win; being chosen for varsity is a win. Enjoy the small victories. The big ones will come later, don’t look for them now. If they happen – great, but if they don’t, learn from it, count yourself fortunate, and move on.

Your mother and I are proud of you. And we cannot wait to hear about the day.

Now, go have fun.

Father of the Year Moment #99: I got 99 problems…

“Dad. What is a good number in Basketball?”

“23”

“No. Seriously?”

“23.”

“How about 2?”

“Yup, that’s fine.”

“Well, I picked 99!”

“Wait. Wha?!”

Are you shittin’ me?! 99?! What basketball coach lets a kid pick 99?! What is she — starting at left end now?!

Just imagine:

“Hey, who’s your daughter?”

“Number 99, The one who’s fouling the shit out of everyone.”

He did this on purpose. 😡

Father of the Year Moment #399 – Re-discovery:

On my road trip to and from Iowa with My Oldest, I found out:

She is a fierce competitor, but does not have as much self-confidence as she puts out.

She runs like the wind, but has the running form of Popeye.

She does whatever is in her power to impress me and is upset with herself when I am not happy (even if it is not about her).

She is very funny, but she sucks at telling jokes.

She is kind.

She has a non-chalant attitude, but cares about other’s opinions.

She screams for independence but wants me right by her side.

She is very book smart, yet very gullible.

She loses everything. Usually, it is right in front of her.

She is very tall for her age and has huge feet, which is why people are surprised when they discover her age.

With all of my deadlines for work and school, I had barely noticed how she is becoming her own person. This is happening way too quickly!

Father of the Year Moment #656 – The Progression of Sports Equipment/Apparel:

Kid #1: Only the best for him. Look good, play good, right?

Kid #2: Hmmm… Well, it does fit; and (kid #1) only used it a few times…

Kid #3: That cost how much?! Oh heyell naw; I got one right here; put this on. I said, put. it. on!

Kid #4: I don’t give a damn if it does have a hole in it, you want to play (the sport), right?! Where is my duct tape?

Father of the Year moment #66:

On the way home from track practice:

“You know when you get back, you have to go to bed.”

“No! I am not tired.”

“Yes you are! You won’t last the drive back.”

“Okay, I will make you a deal. If I am awake when we get to the house, then I get to stay up a little longer.”

“You won’t, but fine!”

(5 minutes later)

“Still up!”

(I turn the heat to 80 degrees)

(10 minutes later, I see her head shoot straight up)

“Still up!”

(I turn the radio to classical music – aaaand done)

1-0

BTW: She was not in this position the entire time.

Ten things I learned at a Taekwondo Extravaganza:

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Holy Buckets!

  1. I think a better name for it would be “Bow Fest”.
  2. If you yell “Hiyaa” really loud while doing anything, you might win a trophy or a medal.
  3. There are actually boards you can buy that can be broken and be put back together — only to be broken again (God, I wish I would have thought of that)!
  4. There is a special way that you tie your belt. The knot should look like a fortune cookie. I don’t see the fortune cookie, but I am hungry because…
  5. They last a very long time! Pack a lunch.
  6. The medals and trophies are some of the coolest I have ever seen.
  7. There is something called a pattern competition where each athlete must perform a sequence of moves in order to place high. Some of these patterns require nothing more than fine finger movements and/or placements. It is actually impressive to watch a ten-year-old memorize and perform a 16-sequence pattern.
  8. Two first-graders sparing against each other is probably one of the funniest/cutest things you will ever see.
  9. Taekwondo does not discriminate. You can be differing sizes, abilities, athleticism, and/or backgrounds and still earn top honors in a respective event – which means that there is still hope for me!
  10. Taekwondo requires masterful concentration and hours of preparation. It has actually done wonders for my daughter.

IMG_8686
To the victor…

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