OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining sports writer Jane McManus makes a living disseminating information about sports to readers across the nation. In an upcoming 11-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, her impact will be far more reaching.
McManus, a reporter for ESPN.com, will talk about the role of sports in America for females to girls and women in both countries of the former Soviet Republic. She is scheduled to leave Friday and will give as many as three speeches per day.
“It should be really interesting," said McManus, who will blog about her trip on espnW.com . “I finally have some piece of knowledge that may be useful.”
In both countries, particularly Azerbaijan, females are just beginning to see sports as an outlet. The recognition that sports can play an important part in the lives of females is just starting to develop.
“Because of my background, I’m a huge advocate in the opportunities for women to play sports,’’ said McManus, who is also a roller derby athlete. “I think they brought me over there knowing my background.”
The U.S. State Department asked McManus in January to make the trip. A friend applied on her behalf as a potential speaker, and the State Department asked if she’d be interested. “I couldn’t imagine anyone would say no,’’ McManus said. “I love to travel.”
One topic McManus expects to address frequently in her talks is Title IX. The 1972 U.S. law guarantees equal participation rights for all sexes at institutions which receive federal financial assistance. Its impact has been felt most on the college athletic fields, where young women have far greater opportunities than those prior to the passing of the law.
“I think there’s a certain amount of interest in that,’’ McManus said. “I don’t think there’s any arguing that it changed the landscape of women playing sports. I think there’s a little bit of a fascination about that, and how it can open doors over there. It’s neat because my own upbringing mirrors that of Title IX.”
McManus has had some public speaking roles, but none to the degree that she will have on her trip.
“I love hearing people’s questions,’’ she said. “I think my speaking will be less important than the dialogue that’s sparked afterwards. Each audience will bring its own set of interests. I’m looking forward to that back and forth, and writing about the women that I meet.”
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