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Actor goes to bat for girls, Title IX

Actor Geena Davis, an amateur archer, joined female athletes Thursday at a San Diego rally to preserve Title IX, the federal law on gender equity in university sports. Davis also addressed the U.S. education secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which held its final public forum.

Statistics presented to the commission showing few girls were interested in playing sports were skewed, and weakening Title IX based on such numbers was "unfair," Davis told the commission.

"I am here to take you for a short ride in Thelma and Louise's car if you think it's fair and just to limit a girl's opportunity to play sports based on her response to an interest survey," Davis said, drawing laughter and applause in evoking the 1991 film in which her character drove off a cliff.

The 15-member commission is charged with looking for ways to improve Title IX.

RUNNING: Susan Harmeling, executive director of the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association, was named race director of the year at a national meeting of race directors in Fort Lauderdale. Besides developing the Gasparilla 15K and 5K into one of the premier road races, Harmeling also has been instrumental in elevating the Hops Marathon By Tampa Bay to a nationally recognized marathon.

NCAA: Ann Meyers Drysdale was the face of women's basketball in the 1970s while at UCLA. She was honored as one of six winners of the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award. Other winners were quarterbacks Warren Moon and Gifford Nielson, Notre Dame tight end Kenneth MacAfee, Southern California volleyball player Debbie Brown and Carleton College runner Dale Kramer.

SKIING: Birgit Heeb-Batliner of Liechtenstein won the giant slalom at Park City, Utah, for her first World Cup victory. Kirsten Clark was the top U.S. racer, finishing 13th.

GYMNASTICS: Paul Hamm made it to the final 16 in all three events he entered at the world championships in Debrecen, Hungary. He was third on the high bar, seventh in floor exercise and 12th on the pommel horse. Other Americans showings: Jeffrey Johnson was fifth on still rings, Brett McClure qualified on pommel horse and parallel bars, and Sean Towsend, the defending world champion, was 12th on parallel bars.

BOXING: Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins must pay a former adviser $610,000 for libeling him by claiming he arranged fights while working for a cable network. The jury's ruling in U.S. District Court in Manhattan fell short of the millions in damages sought by former HBO senior vice president Lou DiBella. Hopkins said he will appeal.

ETC: The X Games competition will be in Los Angeles in 2003 and 2004. The IAAF has agreed with Athens Olympic organizers that the marathons can start in early morning instead of at night.

_ TIMES WIRES

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