Women’s sports programs in red states have plenty to lose after fall of Roe v. Wade

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

From the story of the 10-year-old in Ohio who was raped by her own father to the teenage girl in Texas who eventually birthed twins, we are already seeing the sad, sick, twisted glimpses of a social landscape many men have fantasized of where women are stripped of their reproductive freedom.

In that world, men see women as nothing more than handmaids and the woman’s body is, for all intents and purposes, property of men. It is a puke-worthy landscape and the quicker we get back to where life was before the fateful Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case the better.

We must remember that this is (outside of Ketanji Brown Jackson) the exact same Supreme Court that ushered in the era of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) which allowed college athletes to finally make money off of their athletic prowess. That was a decision that indicated that the calendar inside the Supreme Court was set to the 21st century.

The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a stark reminder that the six conserv…nah, that is too kind of a word. The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a stark reminder that the six NEANDERTHALS who occupy spots on the Supreme Court have their calendars set to the 1800s – and maybe even further back than that. Can we please bring back the 21st century for heaven’s sakes?

There is one group of individuals who need to hope that the SCOTUS decision to scrap Roe does not have an adverse effect on their work. Anyone who is in charge of a women’s sports program in a red state or a purple state where Republicans have a majority in one of the state houses or occupy the governorship.

A perfect example of this is South Carolina where Dawn Staley is at the helm of a women’s basketball program that has won two national championships under her tutelage and has become one of the biggest WNBA factories there is. Staley is, herself, a champion of social justice, but the reality of the situation is the GOP controls everything in the Palmetto State – including now the mayoralty of Columbia – its capital city and where UofSC is based.

And considering how colleges and universities across the country have only (for the most part) paid a lot of silver-tongued lip service to the idea of addressing rape on campus, there could be 4- or 5-star recruits that may consider this when deciding whether or not to play for Staley and the Gamecocks.

That 4- or 5-star recruit may consider Stanford and Tara VanDerveer or UConn and Geno Auriemma or Brenda Frese at Maryland because those states seem more poised to protect a woman’s reproductive freedom than would a South Carolina. Recruits may have to make a tough decision between South Carolina the program and South Carolina the state. Yes – when one has a national profile as Staley has, she can recruit anyone she wants. But it may be one daunting sales job for Staley if the topic of the cavemen in that state’s government comes up in a conversation with a recruit or that recruit’s family.

Another perfect example is Oklahoma softball – and its coach Patty Gasso. It can be argued that the Sooner State’s government is more stuck-in-the-past than even South Carolina’s (and that is an accomplishment). Gasso has compiled six national championships during her time at the helm at the Sooners – including the last two.

She too is in a state where Republicans control essentially everything. Even the mayor of Oklahoma’s largest city – Oklahoma City – is a Republican. OKC also happens to be Oklahoma’s capital city similar to how Columbia dubiously flipped red in an election last year. Women’s Pro Fastpitch – the professional softball league formed in response to the folding of National Pro Fastpitch – is headquartered in Oklahoma City.

There are other top-tier Division I softball programs based in more pro-women’s rights states such as Northwestern in Illinois (coached by Kate Drohan), UCLA in California (coached by Kelly Inouye-Perez) Stanford in California (coached by Jessica Allister) and Oregon State (coached by Laura Berg) whose programs are just as good as Oklahoma’s and who are based in states who will protect their rights as humans first.

Granted – there will always be some recruits that may not necessarily have the means (whether they are financial or emotional) to make such a daunting move even if it may be in their best bodily interests. There will always be recruits who believe it may be in their best interests to stay at home and there will now be recruits that may consider NIL opportunities to be a bigger factor in their final decision than the fall of Roe.

But there are likely plenty of recruits who are now likely considering these elements of a final commitment decision on where to continue their collegiate careers. Things like this legitimize even further the transfer portal in case an atrocity (God forbid) were to happen on campus and in which states would they have more protections against the predatory actions of men who do not know how to keep their own sexual urges in check.

It is sad that high school woman athletes now have to consider such decisions on where to play their NCAA ball given a select number of states are really showing how little respect for a woman’s bodily autonomy and sexual freedom after our joke of a Supreme Court took an AR-15 (which nowadays has more protections in the United States than a woman) to Roe. But this is the world that many men (included many so-called “Girl Dads” of many young woman high school athletes) had asked for.