Sunday, July 22, 2012

Title IX and the Next Battle for Equality

Title IX turned 40 years old last month; it took me this long to write about it because, well, sometimes it's hard to talk about successes. At this point, the athletes benefitting from Title IX don't even know it; it's been a part of high school and college athletics for their entire careers. And at this point, it's almost shitty to point out how much they owe to Title IX, in that it takes away from their own accomplishments, like they didn't get their on their own, they had to have a "government handout".

But, the success of Title IX is real; at the high school level, the 294,015 women playing sports before Title IX jumped to 2,953,355. The 3,666,917 men became 4,206,549. At college, the number of women's teams has doubled. The policy enjoys the support of 80% of the public. It is, most likely, the single piece of progressive legislation that has touched the most people since the Great Society, and a monument to what well-targeted government intervention can do. In comparison to that, the frequent criticisms of Title IX seem trifling; the "women just don't like sports as much" argument rests on George Will's ability to read the mind of every single woman in America (and the bow tie indicates that he can't even read the mind of one woman). The idea that it forces schools to cut other sports (Wrestling being the frequent example) conveniently ignores the fact that schools keep paying their football coaches more than their University Presidents. There's just nothing there; Title IX is an unprecedented success, and that's hard to talk about. Sports Are Good, or at least, Can Be. Letting more people experience that is even better.

So let's move on to the next battle for gender equality- or rather, the next battles. Because the sad fact is, we're not nearly done. We need to stop treating women athletes like they're somehow more mentally delicate than men. (Edit: the original version of this post did not specify that we're talking about mental toughness; reader Anonymous helpfully pointed out that that wasn't clear). We need to get women's programs at colleges to some rough sort of parity in terms of scholarships and operating expenses. We need to stop shaming women athletes for doing things that vaguely remind us of sex. We need to get not just more female athletes, but more female coaches, athletic directors, general managers, and front office executives. We need more of everyone, period. And hell, along the way, we need to keep smaller sports- like wrestling- going.

The one thing all of these issues have in common is that they're exceedingly hard to legislate without some pretty major unintended consequences. When we're talking about Selena Williams' emotions or the Grunt-O-Meter, we're talking about broad cultural attitudes on women. When we're talking about scholarships and funding, we're talking about hundreds of schools each making individual (And incredibly difficult) choices between funding dozens of worthy programs. When we talk about female coaches and executives, we're talking about finding the right candidates who can say the right things in interviews with the right owners and directors. Title IX was amazing, but it can't do anything about that.

Instead, it's going to have to come down to broad-based shifts in society's attitudes about women and sports. It's going to force us to reexamine our priorities in sports, especially at the high school and collegiate levels. The bad news is, that's much harder, it's going to take a long time, and we're all going to have to pitch in. The good news is, it's a testament to how much good Title IX has done, that it's now a cultural issue, not a legal or structural one. We won- and now, the real work begins.

39 comments:

  1. Sorry to interrupt your cheerleading, but if you are familiar at all with women's sports then you should already know that women blow out their ACLs at exponentially higher rates than male athletes. In the range of two to eight times higher actually. These injury levels are particularly serious in basketball and soccer and to a lesser extent softball and volleyball.

    Although this fact is well known and extensively documented among orthopedic surgeons, trainers and coaches it is something that rarely gets visibility from the gender feminists, the NCAA or Title IX worshipers like you.

    So this "We need to stop treating women athletes like they're somehow more delicate than men" pitch of yours is just wrong. Women are in fact objectively much more delicate than men when it comes to sports. By the way their concussion rate is also 50% higher than men in spite of men's participation in football. Go figure.

    Actually a useful blog subject for you might be to wonder why those in the women's sports establishment haven't let these facts see the light of day or dealt with them in any kind of organized fashion after forty years of Title IX.

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    1. Thanks for pointing out my inelegant language; I thought that since the link was clearly talking about "mental toughness", my point would come across, but I shouldn't assume everyone understands my idiosyncratic shorthand.

      This information is interesting as a separate point; it doesn't really change the fact that Title IX has been a tremendous success and that the real work is cultural, not legal, but it's fascinating nonetheless. There's a small but vocal segment of sports fandom that thinks there's no important difference between male and female athletes at a physiological level; that's clearly wrongheaded, even if specific stats have trouble conveying that (for example, the concussion figures you cited have a reporting problem; anyone familiar with men's hockey or football is well aware that we can't always trust the "company line" on head injuries).

      At the same time, I do not know if my meager skills as a writer could wring an entire post out of this; as you say, "this fact is well known and extensively documented among orthopedic surgeons, trainers and coaches", which means this ground has been covered by much smarter people than me, and I can't very well argue that the facts have been covered up. However, if you have a good link on this subject, I'd be happy to throw it in to the next Wind Sprints.

      Thanks for your support!

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  2. Title IX has been successful to the extent that the government has created artificial demand among girls & women for competitive sports initially at the collegiate level which has migrated to the high school level, along with the Title IX ambulance chasing attorneys who make their livings suing the taxpayers. Reference the $3.5 million that Ms. Kristin Galles collected when she successfully sued the Michigan High School Athletic Association which effectively bankrupted the organization. Doesn't sound like social work to me. Google will be your friend concerning Galles.

    If you'd like to validate my artificial demand claim on women's sports just reference the ongoing failure of women's pro team sports in the U.S.. No real market demand for the product exists in the past or present and most likely not in the future. When the sports migrate out of their government supported and subsidized status in the universities into the free market, for profit world they invariably fail.

    From a pure market standpoint if any of us had the backing and unlimited resources of the U.S. government and could successfully litigate if the government believed that a certain percentage of the citizens should wear purple clothing and sell pretzels every day, AND could give those that agreed with us free college educations I'm thinking there would be a lot of goofy purple clothing around and folks hanging out eating pretzels. If you think social & cultural engineering by the govt is cool and if you agree with the cultural direction that Title IX pushes us then you're a happy guy.

    As history has shown, to the extent a society is willing to "push" it's citizens in a certain direction via propaganda or policy they normally follow. Title IX is no different.

    Relative to the female ACL issues:

    - Read "Warrior Girls" by Mike Sokolove

    http://www.functionalpathtrainingblog.com/2011/03/acl-tears-in-female-athletes-the-problem-some-solutions.html

    http://www.orthopodsurgeon.com/aclinwomen.pdf

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/89442-overview

    http://orthopedics.about.com/od/aclinjury/f/women.htm

    http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/03/03/article/knee_injuries_sideline_female_athletes

    There's more where that came from if you're interested.

    Finally, it's cool that you want to weigh in on this thing, but plz don't buy the conventional wisdom on what is going on in women's athletics without a more critical review.

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    2. Again, this all rests on the idea that you know whether or not women want to participate in sports better than the women participating in sports do. I'm dubious. Absent very compelling evidence, I think it's wise to believe that people really do like the things they say they like, and they're not just being duped by propaganda or cowed by coercion (especially from a government program that, like Title IX, does NOT mandate propaganda or coercion). And at this time, no evidence- to say nothing of compelling evidence- has been produced to support that proposition. If anything, the fact that they choose to participate WITHOUT the promise of great financial reward at the pro level SUPPORTS the idea that they really do want to be on the field.

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  3. Not sure you understand how Title IX is actually administered. The proportionality test effectively results in a gender based quota system for sports participation at the college level. There is plenty of history out there detailing coaches begging women that have never even competed in a given sport to come out for (insert sport) to try to hit their proportionality bogey. The proportionality test effectively does mandate or coerce female participation at a proportional level of university enrollment to maintain federal funding status for every collegiate sports program that takes government money. Since Title IX rolled there has been the ongoing overhanging threat of litigation if women’s sports participation isn’t “created” in athletic programs. In fact numerous attorneys including Ms. Galles have become wealthy working that deal. For you to say otherwise means you either don't understand Title IX or you don't care about the truth.

    Seems like based on your prior posts maybe you don’t have the background or experience to understand how free markets actually work, so I guess I should cut you some slack about either not reading or ignoring my prior posts. The bottom line is that anything can be incentivized, financially, culturally or socially. Demand & participation follows incentives. If someone incentivizes unnatural demand then interest and participation is driven. Which is why you have women’s college sports in it’s current state and also why there isn’t enough natural demand to sustain any women’s pro team sport when they evolve out of their government incentivized status into the free market.

    Sounds like you’re thinking that society hasn’t yet evolved to your mature progressive views enough to understand that the collective “We” need to become more “diverse” in coaching, athletic management, etc. Here’s a crazy idea, maybe all people should be presented both athletic and career opportunities on a fair and unbiased basis without government intimidation and engineering. We’ve already seen the results of the failure of affirmative action in college admissions and the work place, hopefully we won’t have to learn the same lesson again by putting more unprepared and unqualified people in positions in which they have no realistic chance to succeed in coaching and athletic administration.

    Finally it seems you kinda have the smart ass thing down at some level, maybe you should lose the progressive lapdog act and actually critically think about the shit you are supporting. Just an idea.

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    1. "The proportionality test effectively results in a gender based quota system for sports participation at the college level."

      Incorrect. Schools can meet Title IX obligations in 3 ways: substantial (not complete) proportionality with the student body, continuing expansion of opportunity, or accommodation of the actual interest of the student body. None of those require exact numbers at all, let alone quotas. That's how Title IX actually works.

      "The proportionality test effectively does mandate or coerce female participation at a proportional level of university enrollment to maintain federal funding status for every collegiate sports program that takes government money."

      Also incorrect; Title IX only requires the schools to have the slots open, it does nothing to pressure the women to take the slots.

      "The bottom line is that anything can be incentivized, financially, culturally or socially."

      You're still arguing that female athletes don't actually want to participate in sports, they're just being "incentivized" to do so. You still have no way of knowing that.

      "Here’s a crazy idea, maybe all people should be presented both athletic and career opportunities on a fair and unbiased basis without government intimidation and engineering."

      Which is exactly the goal and result of Title IX. Congratulations, you just succinctly explained why Title IX is such an amazing thing.

      "Finally it seems you kinda have the smart ass thing down at some level, maybe you should lose the progressive lapdog act and actually critically think about the shit you are supporting."

      I'll take that under advisement!

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    3. Also, I sincerely mean this, thanks for your measurable support of my progressive lapdog act! This is the most comments I've ever gotten on a single post!

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  4. That's bullshit and you know it. The administered standard is proportionality because it is them most onerous to the institution. The OCR has administratively rejected the other two measures on an ongoing basis which was recently confirmed by the Obama administration. Get your shit together or if you actually know what is going on then resolve to be less of a douche.

    That's also bullshit. If colleges get notice from the OCR of non-compliance they are normally intimidated into compliance whether it is appropriate or not. Saying Title IX doesn't pressure women to participate is also bullshit since athletic dept staffs act as government proxies to draw women into athletics to avoid sanctions.

    The way we know it is going on is actual history over the past four decades. Other than that you're right, we have no clue that is going on. The government has been engineering sports participation since Title IX passed with support from morons like you.

    Do everyone a favor and don't post if you aren't capable of thinking shit through logically. My bad for actually reading a forwarded tweet from a Title IX lawyer. Keep thinking someone might get a clue. Evidently not.

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    1. "The OCR has administratively rejected the other two measures on an ongoing basis which was recently confirmed by the Obama administration."

      False. The OCR has specifically endorsed the Three Part test and sent out repeated "Dear Colleague" letters to explain it.
      http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100420.html

      "If colleges get notice from the OCR of non-compliance they are normally intimidated into compliance whether it is appropriate or not."

      The numbers do not bear that out, as no school has ever had it's funding pulled as a result of a Title IX complaint (which is the only coercive measure available to the OCR on this issue). http://espn.go.com/gen/womenandsports/020619enforce.html

      "Saying Title IX doesn't pressure women to participate is also bullshit since athletic dept staffs act as government proxies to draw women into athletics to avoid sanctions."

      Athletic department staffs aren't trained by the Ministry of Love, dude.

      "The way we know it is going on is actual history over the past four decades."

      And that history is millions more athletes playing sports. You've still offered nothing to support the idea that they didn't actually want to.

      "Do everyone a favor and don't post if you aren't capable of thinking shit through logically."

      I certainly have no intention of starting such a practice, but I'll send you a Google Alert if I change my mind.

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  5. Did this type of argument actually work for you in real life?

    They administer the proportionality test. Period. The OCR can reissue whatever they want. They effectively blew up the Bush administration's previously published willingness to use the interest survey test. Feel free to advise of one university that has ever been noticed under any standard other than the proportionality test.

    Of course the numbers don't bear it out because the government and their attorney proxies intimidate the schools into signing letters of agreement or consent decrees to kiss their asses prior to the penalties being enforced. It's called coercion. Look it up.

    It's not the ministry of love, it's for the survival of their gig.

    And you've offered nothing to confirm any natural demand for women's sports. As noted, raw participation in a vacuum means nothing given the incentives, political environment and support from PC progressive dbags like you.

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    1. "They effectively blew up the Bush administration's previously published willingness to use the interest survey test."

      This is also incorrect; the OCR has specifically said that surveys can be useful, it simply said that other factors will be examined, too, and declined to endorse a specific format for the survey. If anything, this gives the schools greater flexibility.

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    2. I'm thinking you don't have much experience dealing with attorneys, particularly the government flavor. The OCR saying that surveys can be useful means nothing from an administration or enforcement standpoint.

      It looks like you're a reporter. Maybe you should check into the little cottage industry created by Title IX in the attorney, university consulting space that magically launches into action when schools get OCR requests for information. No matter what happens there is only one loser in the entire exercise. The taxpayer.

      In particular check out Donna Lopiano's little consulting business. Maybe you can actually make a name for yourself somewhere other than twitter.

      And quit being such a fucking boy scout and actually observe what is going on. Or not.

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    3. Incorrect- I actually *am* an attorney- with experience in the government AND in defending Civil Rights claims.

      And you're also incorrect on the OCR- it's published regulations are federal law- they're CENTRAL to an "administration or enforcement standpoint".

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    4. My condolences. Why am I not surprised? So you're part of the band of morons. Nice combination, an ex-government employee and an attorney. Explains why Hogshead-Makar looks at your tweets. You're probably one of these losers that makes a living suing the taxpayers over imagined Title IX slights. Also explains why you didn't want to talk about the 3.5 million that Galles screwed the Michigan HSA out of.

      Since you're an ex govt attorney then you already know that govt mopes like yourself enforce what they want to enforce regardless of what is on the books. Reference Holder's unsavory progressive selective enforcement habits to date.

      So it turns out you actually do have the experience and education to know what is going on, you're just a bullshit artist, like most attorneys. It pretty goddamn funny that you're quoting the law chapter and verse when we both you and I know exactly how proportionality is being enforced. By the way, as you know guidance letters aren't law. Jesuz. Save your bullshit for someone that doesn't already know what is going on.

      I should have known you were a freaking esquire when you wouldn't address points directly. There's a special place for people like you.

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    5. For something that "you and I know" so much, you sure haven't been able to prove it. That would be because you can't, because it's false.

      Title IX is tremendous success, and your arguments otherwise rest on paranoid fantasies about a government agency that can bring major universities to heel just by, apparently, looking at them sideways and the idea that women who play sports don't actually want to, they've just been tricked by "government incentives". Your arguments are ridiculous on their face, and you've been unable to support them with any evidence. And every time you're called out on that fact, you retreat to personal insults and claim that I already know this is true. I don't really mind; it only makes you- and by extension, the other 20% of the country that doesn't want women to be able to play sports- look desperate and stupid. But it's what it is, and it's why I'm sincerely still not convinced by anything you've said- because, at the end of the day, you haven't said ANYTHING.

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    6. If you won't admit to objective truth there's not much I can do. Appreciate you validating that there is no point in arguing with self proclaimed progressives. I've never seen them let facts get in the way in the past and you've held the line.

      I'll see if I can send some business your way. Then we'll find out objectively who is stupid.

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    7. I not only "admitted" the only objective truth that's been presented; hell, I presented it. If the idea that "the ORC secretly ignores its own laws and just snarls at athletic directors to make them conscript as many women as possible into sports" or the idea that "women who play sports don't really want to play sports they've just been tricked by government propaganda" were "objetive facts", you would have been able to present *some* evidence of them by now. But you haven't. I'm not ignoring the facts you've presented; you haven't presented any facts. I can't accept those things on blind faith, not from someone who just wandered over to my blog via a retweet. That would not be very "critical" thinking.

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    8. You don't have a clue what objective truth is, nor did you present it. Please don't so obviously pitch your progressive bias at the expense of the truth. I get that the law isn't about truth or fairness, but you could at least try to fake it for the unwashed masses.

      Dealing with mopes like you that have only attended school and worked for the government has historically and continues to be a challenge for those of us that have actually been in the world. If we collectively settle for your worldview we'll get exactly what we deserve. Probably not happening Skippy.

      If you can't handle the facts don't risk dialogue via tweets and random retweets. Find your game and play within it. Right now you aren't.

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    9. If you had facts to back your claims up, you'd use them. Instead, you're whining about how terrible I am. It's not nearly as effective as you may hope.

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  6. "They administer the proportionality test."

    Incorrect. The OCR administers the Three Part test, as cited above. The Three Part Test includes a component of showing a continuing effort to expand opportunity, and a component of showing that the school is meeting the interests of its student body. By promulgated federal guidelines, a school needs to meet only one of those prongs to be in compliance with Title IX.

    "Of course the numbers don't bear it out because the government and their attorney proxies intimidate the schools into signing letters of agreement or consent decrees to kiss their asses prior to the penalties being enforced. "

    The only means of "intimidation" the government has is the threat to pull federal funding, and it has never done it in the 40 year history of Title IX.

    "And you've offered nothing to confirm any natural demand for women's sports. As noted, raw participation in a vacuum means nothing given the incentives, political environment and support from PC progressive dbags like you."

    You've never even attempted to show that women are responding to "incentives" or the "political environment" rather than their own desire to play sports, and I assure you, based on hundreds of in-the-field interviews, women are NOT responding to me. Until presented with compelling evidence otherwise, I'm going to assume that women play sports because they want to- and the fact that they want to is very strong evidence of a demand.

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  7. I can't help you if you can't read. I've said it multiple times already. They only administer based upon proportionality. Do some research if it matters to you. If you don't want the truth don't do the research and keep spouting the bullshit that you are.

    I also can't help you if you don't understand what coercion is.

    You're going to believe what you want to believe. That said I totally believe that women are not responding to you in any meaningful way but that sounds like more of a personal problem.

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    1. Dude, you're the one making the claims. You're the one trying to convince me of something. That means it's on you to present evidence of your claims. If you don't want to, that's fine. You can just sulk about how I can't read, type up some personal insults, and repeat your claim over and over. But I'm not going to be convinced, and I'm gonna say so. That's not on me. I can't have my mind changed by nothing.

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    2. Your law degree and that final sentence pretty much say it all.

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    4. It does indeed; you've presented nothing, and that's not going to change my mind.

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  8. At any rate, the point has never been that Title IX is perfect in all things; like any other time humans get together to do something, there have been screw ups along the way. I'm sure someone can find a questionable Title IX case or some borderline regulatory language. And certainly, anything that brings about social change is going to "afflict the comfortable". But that's not just exceedingly boring, it's also irrelevant; the flaws and missteps along the way do not change the fact that now, over 2 million more women get to play sports, and we ALL benefit from greater sports participation. And, if the purveyors of discriminatory athletic programs feel Title IX is too onerous on them, well, I've got little sympathy for anyone who's both discriminating against one sex or the other AND selling me an inferior product. They can always give back the money, if it hurts too much.

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    1. Inferior Product? Are you referring to the slower, less athletic, less dynamic, less compelling product delivered generally by female athletes in both individual and team sports or are you referring to something else? Because I know everyone has been anxiously waiting for a product just like that. Should revolutionize things for the average citizen which is of course what we're looking for.

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    2. Still not a fact to be found...

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  9. As for my brethren who have made some fat cash in prosecuting Title IX claims, good for them. I'm a capitalist, it doesn't bother me when people try to make money. Indeed, that doesn't even make sense as a knock against Title IX. "It's taken money out of the hands of athletic bureaucracies and put it in the hands of private citizens"? For a legitimate "small government conservative", that's a feature, not a bug. For me, a Big Government Liberal, it's something I can live with comfortably, especially considering we're talking about bureaucracies that have been legally proven to be discriminating against one gender or another.

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    1. That's the problem with douche bag attorneys like you. I get you aren't that smart or you wouldn't have signed up for law school, but are you serious? Where exactly do you think "athletic bureaucracies" at State schools that get sued under Title IX get the money to pay these "settlements" to your "private attorney citizens"? I mean really, are you that ignorant or are you just that huge of an asshole?

      The issue with you is that since you've never earned a fucking dime or paid a tax that wasn't somehow paid by the government you don't give a shit.

      I appreciate your post. Exactly the material I've been looking for. Do me a favor and don't take it down for a while. I'm going to drive some traffic for you. You're welcome.

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    2. So, still no facts to back up any of your points, huh? So noted.

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    3. You need to stay in government service. Only safe harbor for folks like you.

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    4. Feel free to write me a letter of recommendation...or a comment that includes anything that substantiates your point...

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    5. Actually I'm kinda busy trying to figure out which branch of the govt you work for and why you have the time to blog during the work day. I'll get there. Used to deal with idiots that didn't want to be found all the time so this won't be a big deal.

      Once I figure that out I'll being communicating upstream, trust me.

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    6. Ha ha, good luck with that...

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    7. Here, I'll help you out: I'm Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States. DON'T MAKE ME SEND YOU TO GITMO.

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