July - August 1998
Vol. 9, No. 4

Linda Mojer

by Linda Mojer

I’m having an out-of-body editorial experience! It’s as if I’m floating above myself, looking — dispassionately — at the most recent series of covers. And what do I see?

I see the March/April (featuring John Ellis) as the first to mark a change in approach that focuses on a single personality. I see the May/June (featuring Michelle Gould) pose an important question: What will it take to Beat Her? Now the July/August edition gives the answer: Robin Levine has what it takes to topple Michelle Gould. And she did it in the semi-finals twice in eight weeks. I couldn’t have asked for anything better to establish continuity and at the same time address the pro/amateur argument that always comes up at this time of year.

Although Robin didn’t win the pro nationals, she did win the USRA national singles open title. How can she play in both? Since this is also the annual rulebook issue, you can go right to page R-11 for your answer. The USRA’s policy on retaining amateur status is cited in rule C.1, and practically all of the women on the WIRT elect to do so. The Amateur Sports Act of 1978 governs the USRA in making sure that it “provides an equal opportunity to amateur athletes ... to participate in amateur athletic competition.” It’s not just a rule, it’s also law.

Several years ago, the IRT mandated that the top eight men’s pros would be fined a portion of their tour winnings if they continued to compete on the amateur circuit. The strength of the men’s tour — at that time, and since — meant that those fines could be considerable. This keeps the top eight motivated to compete exclusively on the tour. Below that benchmark, many players are equally motivated to gain experience by competing on the pro tour, while still keeping a high profile (for themselves and their sponsors) at amateur national events. As long as they retain their amateur status, the USRA must provide “equal opportunity” by statute.

So where does that leave the women? The WIRT is just not in the same boat ... yet. Could it be in the near future? Maybe. Might it help to showcase the depth and diversity of the women’s pro tour in the magazine? We like to think so. Will I be criticized for back-to-back covers featuring women? Well, obviously ...

Now, just give me a minute while I slip back into my body ...

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