Clara, age 10, is sitting in the backseat of my car, reading a book. She says, “Dad, this book has it all wrong!”
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“The girl in this book started playing football on the boy’s team in 1974 because of Title 9.”
“You know what Title 9 is?” I asked.
“Of course I do,” she says, sounding quite annoyed. When I ask her how she knows about Title 9, she says, “I read a book. Except in the book, they called it Title IX.”
She pronounced the Roman numeral 9 in letter-form. It was cute.
“Okay,” I said. “So what’s the problem? Title 9 allows girls to play the same sports as boys. What’s wrong with this girl playing football?
“Dad,” she said, sounding even more annoyed. “Title 9 became a law in 1972. This girl started playing football in 1974.”
I was going to ask how she knew that Title 9 passed in 1972 but stopped myself. I knew what she would say, and I kew she’d be annoyed for being questioned about her knowledge of the matter.
I tried to explain how Title 9 still gives women equal access to collegiate sports today and that 1974 was no different. “It’s a law that started in ‘72 (something I didn’t know until she told me) but it’s still the law today.”
Clara wasn’t having any of it. “I don’t want to hear about a girl who waited two years to play. I want to hear about the first girl who started playing with the boys.”
I had more to say on the matter - maybe the girl had no desire to play football in 1972, or maybe she was too young to play football in 1972, or even though she played two years after the law passed, it was probably just as difficult and courageous to do so -but I instead allowed Clara to return to the book.
Sometimes, it’s better not to poke the beast.