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Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams
In basketball, talent plus hard work equals success. That’s an equation that holds true for women as well
as men, and in recent years, dedicated female ath-letes have raised women’s basketball to new heights
and won the allegiance of many new fans. 70 But what about their coaches? Do any obstacles stand
between them and their dreams? Marianne Stanley didn’t think so when she began coaching women’s
basketball for the University of Southern California, where she earned $ 64,000 a year— a fair sum, one
might think, but less than half that of her counterpart, George Raveling, who coached the men’s team.
True, Raveling had been coaching for thirty-one years, had been an assistant on the U. S. Olympic team,
and was twice named coach of the year. But Stanley was no slouch. She had been a head coach for
sixteen years and won three national championships. In her last two years at USC, she had win- loss
records of 23– 8 and 22– 7, which com-pared favorably with Raveling’s 19– 10 and 24– 6. So when her
initial four- year contract expired, Marianne Stanley sought pay parity with Raveling. Stanley knew that
Raveling was also earning tens of thousands of dollars in perks, but she was willing to overlook that and
settle for an equal base salary of $ 135,000. Instead, USC offered Stanley a three- year contract starting
at $ 88,000 and increasing to $ 100,000. When she rejected that offer, USC countered with a one- year
contract for $ 96,000. Stanley declined the offer and left USC, her hoop dreams diminished, although she
later began coaching at UC Berkeley, where her salary was equiva-lent to that of the men’s coach. For his
part, George Raveling didn’t mind Stanley’s mak-ing as much money as he did. But he understood why
USC paid him more. He was, after all, a hot property, and if USC was going to prevent his being lured
away by some other university trying to boost its basketball program, then it had to pay him a high
salary. By contrast, Marianne Stanley didn’t have any other job offers. Too bad, one might say, but
that’s how the market works in a capitalist society. But what if the market itself is discrimi-natory?
Defenders of comparable worth argue that it is and that coaches like Stanley can’t negotiate for
comparable sal-aries because women’s basketball isn’t valued as highly as men’s. And it’s college
administrators, they argue, who are to blame for that. As one feminist puts it: The women didn’t get the
advertising and marketing dollars. They didn’t get the PR. Then when fans weren’t showing up, the TV
stations weren’t carrying the games and other universities weren’t fighting over the best coaches,
administrators told the women that, because they and their sport didn’t draw as much attention as
men, they shouldn’t be paid as much. In response, defenders of USC deny that it or any other university
is responsible for the fact that men’s sports are big revenue earners and women’s are not. The higher
pay for those who coach men simply reflects that social and cultural reality, which is something college
administrators have no control over. If someone like Marianne Stanley wants to enter the big leagues,
then she should coach men. Update Sadly, sometimes even those who have fought against dis-
crimination can discriminate against others. Just a few years after Marianne Stanley assumed her head
coaching position at UC Berkeley, one of the assistant coaches, Sharrona Alexander, filed suit against
the university, alleging that Stanley told her to get an abortion or lose her job. Stanley denied the
abortion allegation, but admitted that she did ask Alexander to resign because of her pregnancy. Either
way, a champion of women’s rights was guilty of trampling on some-one else’s hoop dreams. Ironically,
Stanley herself played college basketball when she was pregnant ( returning to prac-tice eleven days
after her daughter was born) and went on, single and with a toddler, to coach Old Dominion University
to three national championships. Moreover, some sports com-mentators believe that, far from being a
handicap, mother-hood can give a coach an edge in recruiting because the parents of prospective
recruits prefer their daughters to be coached by women who, when they say that they treat their teams
as family, know what they are talking about. In addi-tion, Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne says,
because “ you’re taking young ladies at a very formative time, you have to play the parent role.” She
adds, “ There’s absolutely no doubt [ motherhood] makes me a better coach.”
Discussion Questions
1. The doctrine of comparable worth holds that men and women should be paid the same wage for doing
jobs of equal skill, effort, and responsibility. Were Marianne Stanley and George Raveling doing work of
comparable value?
2. Was Stanley treated unfairly or in some way discriminated against? Should USC have offered to pay
her more?
3. Why do sports played by men tend to be more popu-lar and generate more revenue than sports
played by women? Are female athletes— and their coaches— disadvantaged? Are they discriminated
against? If so, who is responsible for this discrimination, and do colleges and universities have an
obligation to do something about it?
4. Should universities like USC base their coaching salaries entirely on market considerations? Or should
they pay the coaches of men’s and women’s sports comparable salaries based on experience, skill, and
5. Respond to the argument that because men are free to coach women’s teams and women to coach
men’s teams, there is nothing discriminatory in the fact that one job pays more than the other.
6. Was Sharrona Alexander’s pregnancy likely to have adversely affected her coaching performance? If
so, was Marianne Stanley wrong to ask her to resign? How should Stanley have handled the situation?

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