News - A kick in the teeth

When the going gets ticklish, Duke punts

What took so long?
It's been two whole weeks since Duke was ordered to cough up $2 million for ignoring the blatant gender discrimination of its football coach, Frank Goldsmith, who told Heather Sue Mercer she had made the team — listed her on the spring roster that went around to the conference schools — then dumped her when his fellow ACC coaches snickered.
Naturally, such a football powerhouse as Duke could not be expected to endure the possibility that a woman might be called on to give them a win on the gridiron.
This is about a kicker, understand. Even NFL kickers endure grief for doing next to nothing in training camp while linemen are dropping from two-a-days. Come the regular season and kickers do even less. It's highlight material when a kicker ever has to tackle a runner. Hey, pro kickers are routinely denigrated as girls, so why shouldn't a real girl be a kicker?
Mercer plans to use the money to establish a scholarship fund for young women who want to feel the thrill of the perfect kick, just like Morten Andersen does. Not so fast; Duke will no doubt appeal the $2 million judgment. That amount, by the way, was not punishment for cutting Mercer because of her gender, it was for ignoring her complaint. Had Duke officials taken her seriously, none of this would have happened.
Guys who have no chance to make a team are made into movies, like Rudy. Women are hounded, harassed and humiliated. And that's the good news. That's what happens when women come close to making the team.
But now, such scant opportunities as there are drying up, ostensibly because schools are afraid of being sued for discrimination. That's what's happening to Middle Georgia College's Tonya Butler. Riverdale High School's all-state kicker, Butler thought she'd be the first woman to get a football scholarship to a four-year school, but the nibbles of interest she was getting from NCAA Division I-AA schools have evaporated.
"If that's what it takes," she is quoted as saying in Sunday's AJC, "I'm willing to sign a contract saying I wouldn't sue."
There's an idea. In fact, this is such a good idea that I think every team should adopt it. I envision Georgia Tech brandishing such a pre-nuptial agreement in front of its players, especially the tackles, to pre-empt civil action resulting from George O'Leary's practice drills. And think what a hit (no pun intended) blanket legal protection would be at the next school that hires Bob Knight.
This approach might cost a lot of money in legal fees but hey, that would be preferable to doing the right thing, wouldn't it?
Hot shots?
What's hot in atlanta sports

DAVID Justice — is right.
Denny Neagle — was wrong. You don't raise a stink when Joe Torre wants David Cone to pitch to Mike Piazza.
John Smoltz — deserved better than to be kept waiting for the Braves to pick up his option. What, exactly, were they waiting for?
See no evil — George O'Leary closes Tech's practices. Coincidentally, he is reported to be annoyed that the AJC ran a follow-up on the possibility that departed tackle Dustin Vaitekunas is considering filing a lawsuit.
2 — Consecutive weeks the Falcons have had the same five guys on the offensive line.
Fantasy League — Who would you rather have on your team: George Godsey or Quincy Carter?

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