# Sports



An open letter to coaches in Iowa public schools

To the Iowans who coach student athletes or lead other public school-based activities:

As a new academic year begins this week, you may feel more emboldened to bring your religion into practices, games, or other school group gatherings. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that high school football coach Joseph Kennedy was wrongly disciplined over his post-game prayers on the field.

Writing for a 6-3 majority in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, Justice Neil Gorsuch mischaracterized Kennedy’s actions as a “short, private, personal prayer.” In fact, the coach sought public acclaim and extensive media coverage for giving thanks to God at the 50-yard line, sometimes surrounded by players.

No doubt the coaches who copy Kennedy will be celebrated in many Iowa communities.

I’ve been thinking about how coaches like him will change the school sports experience for students like me.

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Cheerful cruelty belies governor's concern over kids' mental health

Self-awareness has never been Governor Kim Reynolds’ strong suit.

So it was that just this week, Reynolds asserted in an interview with the Des Moines Register that mental health “has been so important to me.” The governor lamented the pressures kids have faced over the past two years, “the depression, the anxiety,” adding, “We’ve seen suicide rates among young girls up over 50 percent” during the COVID-19 pandemic. She bragged about “working on mental health for five years” and “standing up a children’s mental health system.”

You’d never guess she just signed a bill that is guaranteed to increase depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among some of Iowa’s most vulnerable youth.

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Republicans value "fairness" only for Iowans like themselves

Iowa Republicans have sought to undermine LGBTQ equality for more than a decade, but in recent years, their myriad attempts to discriminate didn’t make it past the legislature’s first “funnel” deadline.

However, this year Republicans moved bills out of Iowa House and Senate committees that would prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. The bills are eligible for debate in both chambers.

The legislation is a priority for Governor Kim Reynolds, who declared during a Fox News town hall last spring that she was committed to acting on the issue. She has repeatedly claimed preventing trans girls from competing is a matter of “fairness,” a talking point echoed by Republican lawmakers who defended the bills last week.

Their stated concerns don’t extend to Iowa’s transgender girls and women, who would find yet another door slammed in their face.

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A golden anniversary for Title IX

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

Several weeks ago, working on a writing assignment unrelated to this column, I explored the remarkable career of Patsy Takemoto Mink, a U.S. representative from Hawaii. From 1978 to 1981, she served as President of Americans for Democratic Action, a national advocacy organization currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. Mink’s crowning legislative achievement was guiding Congressional passage of Title IX, signed into law by President Nixon on June 23, 1972.

Title IX is a mere 37 words: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Two items worth noting: First, while the law clearly forbids gender discrimination, athletics is never mentioned. Second, in the intervening 50 years, female participation in high school sports has grown by 1,057 percent, 614 percent at the college level.  

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Honor Thanksgiving spirit by respecting Indigenous people

Sometime during the fall of 1621, white European settlers at Plymouth held a harvest feast, attended by some Wampanoag, one of the Indigenous peoples living in the area. Almost everything else you learned about that “first Thanksgiving” was wrong.

The Pilgrims didn’t invite the Wampanoag to share their bounty. Some historians now believe the Native men came because they heard gunshots and assumed the settlement was under attack. (They had formed an alliance with the European settlers in the spring of 1621.) Another theory is that the warriors showed up “as a reminder that they controlled the land the Pilgrims were staying on and they vastly outnumbered their new European neighbors.”

According to Thanksgiving myths, the Pilgrims expressed gratitude for Wampanoag who taught them how to grow or find food in their new surroundings. In reality, “Their role in helping the Pilgrims survive by sharing resources and wisdom went unacknowledged that day, according to accounts of the toasts given by Pilgrim leaders.”

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