The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, January 31, 1994 - 5
In their last varsity year, men
tumblers rolling after early success
By JOSH KARP
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
Coming into the season, the No. 2
Michigan men's gymnastics team felt
like Rodney Dangerfield. It didn't
get any respect.
After their team placed fifth in the
Big Ten last year and finishing with a
subpar 9-14 dual meet record, the
Wolverine faithful had good reason
not to believe. But success comes
with time and experience, and with
all 18 letterwinners returning from
last year, Michigan felt good about
To start off this year's campaign,
the squad traveled to Happy Valley,
Pa., Dec. 11 to compete in the Penn
State University Invitational in a five-
team preseason competition. This was
Michigan's first meet before January
in three years.
The Nittany Lions prevailed with
a score of 272.5, and even though the
Wolverines took second with a score
of 262.75, Michigan coach Bob
Darden knew his team had a long way
"That was a reality check," Darden
said. "It was a bad meet for us in that
our consistency was way down, but
the highlight was it opened up a few
eyes on our team. We were a month
ahead of schedule which was nice to
see, but it still wasn't that great a
performance. So we knew that we
had a lot of work to do for (our next
meet) with Minnesota."
With nearly a month to prepare,
Michigan was ready for its Jan. 7
home showdown with the Golden
Gophers. Expected to lay down early,
the Wolverines proved their critics
wrong, as they beat Minnesota 274.8-
272.7. Sophomore Bob Young led
the way, winning the all-around with
"We stuck to our guns, and hit our
sets," senior Royce Toni said. "It was
a huge win."
As for Young, Michigan's fresh-
man of the year last season, big scores
have been expected of him, and he
definitely has delivered.
"He's a lot more focused than he
was last year,"junior Rich Dopp said.
"He's been a lot more consistent, and
is more relaxed with a year of experi-
ence under his belt. All that has come
together to help him be great in all-
Riding high from the victory over
Minnesota, the Wolverines refused to
let up, as they traveled to Chicago to
take part in the two-day Windy City
Invitational beginning Jan. 14. The
team placed fourth with a 271.925,
finishing behind champion Ohio State,
Iowa and Minnesota.
"As a team effort, we made a
stand," junior Raul Molina said. "It
was a good showing for us as a team,
and there were a lot of individual
efforts in finals that really showed
(how good we can be)."
Next, the Wolverines returned
home for a meet versus Western
Michigan. The squad recorded a huge
win, 279.95-261.2, and Young led in
the all-around again with a 55.9, the
ninth highest individual score tallied
so far this year in the nation.
"We went all out and everything
paid off," said Dopp, who scored a
personal best of 55.3. "It gives us a lot
of confidence for the rest of the sea-
The rest of the season includes this
past weekend's conference meet at
Illinois, as well as tough Big Ten
competition versus Penn State Feb..
12, and at defending champion Ohio
State March 5.
"We know what the competition
is," Darden said. "It's nice (right now)
to have a lot of the competition look-
ing up at us for once."
But as the season moves on, who
knows what fate has in store for the
Wolverines. Molina expects the team
to fare well, and says they are right in
the thick of things.
"The Big Ten season should be
pretty interesting," Molina said. "A
lot of teams that have beaten us in the
past such as Michigan State, Illinois
and Penn State, we have agreat chance
of substantially beating them this year.
"Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State
are going to be the real challenges,"
Molina added. "Ohio State you could
pretty much put near the top of the
nation because they're a phenomenal
team. Minnesota and Iowa are within
our reach and I believe they're at our
Although Michigan is winning, the
team's success has been overshad-
owed all season long. The squad,
which in addition to sporting a No. 2
national ranking, is in jeopardy of
losing its varsity program after this
"It's been a real traumatic concern
of the guys on the team," assistant
coach Mike Milidonis said. "It's taken
a lot of concentration away from their
performance as well as their academ-
ics. They're really concerned about
their future not only as athletes, but
also as students at the university."
This makes recruiting a lot tougher,
and making the Wolverines' success
all the more remarkable. Young, Dopp
and Molina aren't the only ones con-
tributing to the team's early season
"Brian Winkler's done a tremen-
dous job," Milidonis said, "and Ben
Verrall's done a real good job coming
into the lineup on four events for us."
There is still a chance the Board of
Regents will keep men's gymnastics
at varsity status. For now, the team
can only be optimistic and concen-
trate on the remainder of the season.
"It's a great team and a great bunch
of guys," Dopp said. "We're just put-
ting our stuff together and it's going
reshman Jason MacDonald soars through the air in yesterday's meet against Illinois at Cliff Keen Arena.
Key injury, m istakeske illinois
victory over Michian gy1crmnasts
By AARON BURNS
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
The Michigan men's gymnastics
team, one of the deepest in the nation,
p that depth to the test Saturday
niit at Illinois. Junior Raul Molina
was pulled from the lineup due to a
foot injury he suffered during warm-
the vault, but admitted that "the diffi-
culty of our vaults is not quite where
we want them."
As for the rings, Michigan faltered
(43.85). "We stumbled," Darden said,
"And fell on our face."
Michigan trailed by almost two
points, but with the high and parallel
Unfortunately, this was one injury bars remaining, the coach felt a come-
even the Wolverines could not over- back was not out of the question.
come. Illinois' Greg McGlaun came "We still felt we could eke out the
through with a stunning 9.85 on the smallest margin of victory," Darden
high bar as the Fighting Illini pulled said.
away from Michigan on the final event If there was a high point for the
4 won the meet, 271.4-267.95. Wolverines during this meet, the high
Michigan fell behind early on, post- bar was it. The Wolverines posted a
ing a disappointing 41.9 on the pommel 46.55 to pull within one point of the
horse while Illinois roared ahead with a Illini.
45.45 on the floor exercise. With one event remaining, Darden
The Wolverines bounced back said the team felt confident that it
quickly, though, by scoring a 46.8 on could make up that one point.
the floor exercise. Going into the third. . Butasseach Illipi came off the high
event, Michigan led,88.7-88: tbar, the- same' number lit up the
"At that point, we were looking at scoreboard: Nine. Five Illini scored
.w meet," Coach Bob Darden said. low nines and McGlaun stole the show
The tide turned during the next with his 9.85 to seal the victory for
two events. Heading into the fifth Illinois.
event, the Illini held a 179.1-177.25 Meanwhile, the Wolverines self-
lead, primarily because of Michigan's destructed on one of their better events,
shortcomings on the vault and rings. the parallel bars.
The Wolverines managed a mere "Basically, we beat ourselves,"
44.7 on vault. Darden was generally Darden said, reflecting on the team's
pleased with the team's execution on 44.15 total.
But the Illini had something to do
with the loss, too.
"I was impressed with Illinois,"
Darden said of the team his Wolver-
ines beat two weeks ago at the Windy
City Invitational. "I'm surprised they
only scored 271.4. It seemed like they
were posting very good scores every
time I looked up."
Michigan had its moments too.
Jason Taft equaled his career high on
the pommel horse with a 9.0. Bob
Young continued his role as a leader
by winning the all-around, and Seth
Rubin had a break on the high bar, but
still managed an 8.9.
Although Rubin and Michael Mott
did a good job covering for Molina in
the lineup, his absence was felt.
"If we had him (Molina) we would
have won," Darden said. "We prob-
ably would have .missed 11 instead of
14. Your mindset is different when
one of your stars is out. His absence
might have weighed a little in his
The loss was disappointing to the
team, but Darden is eager to move on.
"This was a setback we don't want to
dwell on," he said. "We'll use it as a
learning experience. Our methodol-
ogy doesn't need to change, but our
Continued from page 1
flagship sport. It is the sport of
choice because, as is evinced by the
exponential growth of men's basket-
b01, it has the potential to be a high
As college athletic conferences
struggle to improve the reputation of
en's athletics, the NCAA has at-
'tpted to make women equal to men
in sports. "Why should the athletic
domain be any different from the rest
of the world?" asks the NCAA com-
"The NCAA, in conjunction with
Congress, has attempted to make strides
toward gender equity in athletics.
At first, women's athletics faced
its first major set back in 1984 with the
*dsion in Grove City v. Bell. The
Supreme Court ruled that Title IX did
not apply to school athletic programs,
because the colleges did not receive
money for women's sports directly
from the state. Women's athletics got
back on track in 1988 when Congress
enacted The Civil Rights Restoration
Act, requiring all universities to com-
ply with Title IX.
dJniversity athletic departments can
afeve gender equity with Title IX in
one of three ways:
1. Proportionality: If the student
athlete ratio is 50/50, male/female, or
equal to that of the representation in
the school, then the university has
achieved uender equitv.
and women proportionally.
Bates explained possible ways that
schools have been known to manipu-
late their numbers. He said that cer-
tain sports don't have a set number of
members it is permitted to carry on the
In the sport of crew, for example,
a team can field any number of boats
for competition. Consequently, it can
carry almost any number of partici-
pants. In order to comply with gender
equity, some schools have rostered
more athletes than can participate on a
regular basis. This abuse of Title IX
defeats the very purpose on which it
"What the courts are saying is that
(the ratio) should meet the population
of the undergraduate student body,"
Weidenbach said. "That's about 52/
In addition to the recent court
decisions,the fitness movement of the
1980s contributed to the rise of
women's athletics. Women increased
their participation in sports by striv-
ing for excellence in health.
The third reason for increased par-
ticipation in women's athletics was
the increased coverage and publicity
of women's sports in the media. The
NCAA has secured contracts with
CBS, ESPN and Sports Channel to
cover women's college basketball this
The Big Ten has been directly in-
fluenced by these consistent improve-
ments in women's basketball. Crowds
In contrast, the Hawkeyes drew 5,113
fans per game. Where do these two
"The thing we suffer from here is a
belief that you don't need to market
yourself," Bates said. "Just being
Michigan is enough to market us."
Iowa represents a successful
women's basketball program, whereas
Michigan has yet to achieve sustained
success. The Wolverines have reached
the NCAA tournament just once -in
1989-90 - in its history. The ques-
tion remains, what can Michigan do to
equal the success of Iowa?
The answer may lie in marketing.
Last year, Michigan tried to im-
prove student's attendance with a se-
ries of promotions through the Greek
"We have a marketing department
which spends all its time on women's
sports," Weidenbach said. "How can
we make our students more interested
However, students tend to be apa-
thetic and closed-minded to women's
athletics. Often they have trouble over-
looking the way women's sports were
in the past. Most frequently, though,
women's sports suffer from compari-
sons to men's.
"I realize that our (Tennessee)
women's basketball team is #1 in the
nation and the games are free," Ten-
nessee student Jim Bencik said. "But,
the game just isn't fast enough."
Finding a target audience is a key
factor that contributes to the success-
they didn't even have women's ath-
letics at (Cedar Rapids) high school,"
Iowa resident Lorma Stagg said.
"What's great is seeing all the men
supporting them too."
Iowa successfully recruited older
fans because it advertised in publica-
tions read frequently by the 50-plus
age group. Iowa offers senior dis-
counts for the purchase of a Gold
Card, a season ticket to all women's
sports. Seniors can purchase the Gold
Card for a flat rate of $35.
Where the elderly are a mark of
the past in women's sports, the youth
represent the future. Michigan is at-
tempting to reach this audience.
"We try to target the young audi-
ences instead of thestudents," Michi-
gan promotional director Jody
Humphries said. "Wefeel it's cheap
entertainment for them on a Saturday
or Sunday afternoon."
The Gold Card offers kids under
the age of 18 a means of inexpensive
entertainment. Children and teens can
attend all the women's basketball
games for a mere $5. By appealing to
the youth, Iowa hopes to espouse
tolerant attitudes towards women's
athletics before persisting stereotypes
influence these kids negatively.
But such a strategy can take time.
"When you target the youth, you
sports and young boys will be more
accepting of the girls' preferences.
These same girls who grew up
watching Michigan women's basket-
ball will one day want to play basket-
ball for the team they grew up watch-
ing. Appealing to youth is a good way
to tighten the gap and make women's
basketball appreciated by all ages.
In an Oct. 26, 1993 interview with
the Chicago Tribune, former NCAA
Executive Director Dick Shultz said,
"I think in ten years people are going
to be surprised in the interest gener-
ated by women's sports."
Michigan officials are hopeful
about the future of women's athletics;
they have seen evidence that advertis-
"We hope women's basketball will
be like the hockey team was five years
ago," Humphries said.
Michigan's hockey team was a
struggling organization about five
years ago. After extensive marketing
and promotions, the team is now a
Marketing women's basketball at
Michigan is only a short-term answer to
a societal problem. A societal change in
attitude is necessary forcontinuous sup-
port of women's athletics.
"Success (in women's sports) is
more basic than promotions," Bates
ments, fame and popularity. How-
ever, women tennis players still en-
counter discrimination that men play-
ers do not.
Sports contrast harshly with the
Victorian ideals of being a woman. As
a result, women must often make a
choice between social acceptance and
Several years ago, Steffi Graf
posed on the cover of Vogue, while
Martina Navratilova changed her
glasses and hair style to become more
fashionable. Most of these women
dress in more feminine clothing for
their interviews because this is how
society wants to see them.
Negative expressions like, "You
throw like a girl" permeate our speech,
equating being female with an inabil-
ity to compete in athletics. Gender
biases occur elsewhere, too. For ex-
ample, when women play football, it
is generally called "powder puff'.
The social stigma even permeates
the professional, adult level. Colleges
across the nation have different names
for their men's and women's mascots.
Bears change to teddy bears, wild cats
to wild kittens, blue hawks to blue
chicks, and the bollweavils to cotton
There has been a concerted effort
by the government and the NCAA to