People with Netflix accounts, add this one to your queue. Head on over to Amazon and watch the Fishbowl segment to see the preview and (fabulous!) interview.
This movie chronicles the true story of a high school women’s basketball team in the Seattle suburbs. The Roughrides, their coach Bill Resler and specifically, point guard Darnellia Russell. The film is wonderful. I’d recommend it for sports lovers AND feminists but really, anyone could enjoy it because it’s exciting and emotional.
The Amazon clip gives lots of detail, but the basic story follows Darnellia. In her junior year, she becomes pregnant and has a baby girl. She drops out of school for some time and when she returns she is barred from playing (for dropping out). She sticks around to become a fifth year senior but then is barred AGAIN from playing -- this time by the WIAA. Their rationale: You can only play as a fifth year senior if you missed time due to a "hardship.”
Apparently an unexpected teen pregnancy didn’t meet “hardship” criteria. According to the WIAA, “It wasn’t a hardship; she made her own choices.”
Thankfully, Darnellia took the WIAA to court and the decision was overturned (because any sane person can see it doesn’t make any sense to punish women for becoming pregnant when high school aged men face no similar consequences). Darnellia should never have been punished-- she had worked hard to stay in school, raised her grades and would graduate. She had support from her mother and boyfriend of five years. She also had the support of her coach and team.
Before the pregnancy, Darnellia had fistfuls of offers from colleges across the USA. After the birth of her daughter--- NOTHING. She needed to get back into the game in order to have any hopes of scholarship, and therefore college.
Not content to let it go, the WIAA took Darnellia back to court AGAIN. But once again, they were overruled. After this loss, the WIAA threatened to take the matter to court after the season closed, meaning that if they won that battle, every game Darnellia played in will be forfeited.
The team’s response? Screw you, WIAA.
So they played anyway WITH Darnellia.
I won’t ruin the ending but I encourage you all to see it. It's very moving with some fascinating side stories about other women on the team as well as Coach Resler.
Some of the most telling moments in this documentary come when we get to hear clips from a morning radio talk show:
CALLER: I think it sends a horrible message to children that they can just pick whatever course of action they want and not have to worry about the consequences-- cause someone’s gonna step in and fix it for them and I think that’s wrong.
HOST: But isn’t there another dangerous message that’s being sent? If she loses her eligibility and then it’s ‘Hey girls, getting an abortion isn’t gonna affect your life nearly as much as carrying a kid to term’?
CALLER: Oh don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she made a poor decision by keeping the child.
CALLER: I think her poor decision was made when she chose to have sex while she was in high school
SECOND CALLER: Secondly and most importantly and maybe cause I’m the only woman so far who’s called in—who the hell is taking care of this baby? I don’t understand how a girl can go to school full time, keep up her homework, get ready to go to college, hopefully, take care of a baby - and I think this proves, that she and her family’s priorities are all screwed up.
END RANT FROM ME: Yeah those conservative values are sounding really compassionate aren’t they? PLEASE! Just more reinforcement that pro-life policies are about punishing women for being sluts who have sex. Otherwise wouldn’t they want the young woman to get a shot at a college scholarship? NO. She should have the baby and then hide in shame, giving up all her hobbies and take care of her baby (with no opportunities to better herself in college). Hmmm? Sexism and racism much?
One commenter on IMDB had an excellent point I shall leave you with. People may say, “Of course colleges quit writing her, she had a baby—that’s a huge liability” --- Funny thing--- drug abuse is a huge liability! As is a history of violence against women, and other kinds of trouble with the law, but that doesn't stop colleges from giving scholarships to plenty of top male athletes with these kind of things on their record.