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Monday, May 14, 2012
Brandi Chastain winces at Title IX flak

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If Brandi Chastain could have cried foul, she would have.

The world-famous U.S. women's soccer player was in Sacramento on Monday with her Brazilian counterpart Sissi to be honored by the California Assembly as it recognized the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

The occasion prompted Assemblyman Chris Norby to reveal that he wasn't a fan of the 1972 federal law chiefly known for mandating gender equity in high school and collegiate sports. The Fullerton Republican said he thought Title IX had come at the expense of male athletes, particularly those who depend on sports scholarships.

"We need to be honest about the effects of what I believe are faulty court interpretations or federal enforcement of Title IX, because it has led to the abolition of many male sports across the board in UCs and Cal States," he said. "And that was never the intention of this, to have numerical equality. It was never the intention to attain equality by reducing opportunities for the men."

Standing in the back of the chamber, Chastain, who plays with the semi-professional California Storm in Sacramento, visibly bristled at Norby's remarks and raised her hand to try to interject. But she was denied the chance to give a rebuttal because resolutions do not have public hearings.

She did, however, get some assists from other lawmakers. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles Democrat, pointed out that the softball fields at the high school where his daughter pitches pales in comparison to the boys' baseball diamond. "Equality is yet to be attained," Feuer said.

Assemblyman Jim Silva, a Sunset Beach Republican, also came to Chastain's defense. A former high school football coach, Silva said that he, too, once questioned providing more funding for female athletes.

"Then, on March 18, 1978, my world completely switched," the Sunset Beach Republican said. "That was the day my daughter was born."

Chastain is remembered for and revered by women's sports enthusiasts for making the game-winning kick when the U.S. faced China in the 1999 Women's World Cup, and celebrating the victory by stripping down to her sports bra. And while Norby's comments obviously rankled, she did not blow her top.

In the end, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla reached her goal for AJR27: the measure passed 68 to 0, with 67 co-sponsors.