System Protects From Discrimination
When most people think of Title IX, they think about sports only, but it’s important to understand what Title IX is in its entirety. Title IX has 10 key areas associated with the legislation. They are: Access to Higher Education, Athletics, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.
In a nutshell, Title IX was enacted to prevent gender discrimination in education. The legislation afforded women the same rights as men in the classroom. The specifics of it are that any program that receives federal funding is required to give equal opportunity to boys and girls.
Title IX has led to a dramatic increase in participation in sports for women and girls. Before Title IX there were only two main athletic options for women; cheerleading and square dancing. Pre-Title IX, only one out of 27 girls played sports and budgets for women’s athletics were nearly non-existent. Since Title IX, access to sports at the youth level have paved the way for women’s collegiate athletics to soar. This gives women more opportunity to use athletics as a conduit for education.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Title IX,. Although I’m not a lawyer, a simple reading of the legislation can clear up a lot of miscommunication. The information I received from the NCAA’s website states that Title IX, in its relation to athletics, is about participation opportunities, accommodation and scholarship money proportional to their participation.
Basically, this means that there has to be opportunities for both genders to compete — if a sport is offered for both genders, one’s facilities cannot exceed the quality of the other and scholarship money must be proportional to the needs of the athlete. This does not mean that identical sports have to be offered for men and women or that money has to be divided equally between sports simply based on gender.
For example, football and soccer have different budgets. One reason for that is equipment. Football players require shoulder pads, helmets, hip pads, thigh pads, knee pads, cleats and a mouth piece. Soccer requires shin guards, cleats and uniforms. While reading through the details of Title IX, I didn’t once come across anywhere that said that men’s sports have to be decreased to satisfy women’s sports.
Before Title IX, women’s sports were either unrecognized or intentionally given the worst equipment to work with. To look around campus now and see women’s basketball playing in the Huntsman Center and training in the new Huntsman training facility, see gymnastics as the third most popular sport on campus, and see women’s soccer training in the same state of the art weight rooms as baseball is progress. More importantly, Title IX is an opportunity to maintain healthy practices. Women who engage in sport are less likely to smoke and they are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Title IX gets a lot of flak because of misunderstanding of the legislation. At its core, Title IX protects men and women from discrimination based on gender. This is not just a law protecting women and it is not trying to take away from men’s sports. In a collegiate sense, Title IX only enhances the quality of athletics. The reputation of a men’s sport can encourage top level female athletes to choose an institution and vice-versa. Because men’s basketball has been successful, donors were willing to pay for new basketball facility and help the women’s program out.
Title IX is not about taking anything away. Title IX is the rising tide that raises all athletic boats. Those of us fighting the current better catch the wave and ride.
Law Only Works in Theory
In the world of college athletics, there is nothing quite so controversial and hotly contested as Title IX. Signed by president Richard Nixon in 1972, the law was originally meant as an anti-discrimination move. At the time, many leading universities would not accept women and law and medical schools used quotas to limit female involvement in their programs. The law stated that a school cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. Using that statute, the law can only be called a success.
But as for its overall goal of making universities more equal, Title IX has failed miserably. Instead of making things more equal between males and females on college campuses, it has had the opposite effect. The law can be looked at as a kind of reverse-discrimination against men on college campuses. While the law technically applies to all areas of education, it’s most visible component is found in college athletics.
By introducing Title IX, the government has helped perpetuate the rise of women’s sports. But the unintended consequence is that this legislation has helped to kill many male sports.
The first problem with this legislation is not what it intended, but rather what legislators took it to mean. They believe it means that women are entitled to a statistical proportionality. What this means is that if a school has a female population of 70 percent, then 70 percent of the athletes at that school must be female. Obviously that is an issue since there are far fewer women than men who want to participate in collegiate athletics.
Another issue is that this legislation does not apply to other extracurricular activities, such as theater, to student organizations on campus. Women tend to overwhelmingly dominate these non-athletic clubs.
This isn’t to say that women’s sports are somehow less valuable than men’s or that we should somehow get rid of women’s sports. Title IX was a good idea in theory — to make sure that women weren’t discriminated against. But in practice, it was too vague. The only way to measure any progress is by looking at the percentage of women competing in school-sanctioned sports.
Title IX has not achieved its goal of making the two sexes equal. Sure, having more women participate in sports is a good thing. But to make one side equal by hurting another is wrong.
The ugly truth is that schools have been forced to eliminate men’s teams and create women’s teams, not because they wanted to, but because they were afraid of being in violation of the law. Essentially, schools are afraid of lawsuits being brought against them by the government. Title IX has all but eliminated smaller, less lucrative programs like men’s wrestling, swimming and gymnastics. Other schools may still have these programs, but nowhere near the extent that they used to.
Another problem with Title IX is football. Football programs are usually the largest and most lucrative sports programs available to students. Suffice it to say that football programs, as big and popular as they are, aren’t going anywhere. But since there are literally hundreds of student athletes that participate, all of them male, that number is counted against Title IX allowances.
For example, if 20 percent of student athletes at a school participate in football, and there is a 60 percent enrollment for women, then that leaves only 20 percent of other sports that can be filled by men.
An easy solution to this is to simply not count football against the numbers required by Title IX. In most other sports, there is generally a way for women to compete, i.e., basketball, gymnastics, track and field, etc. But there isn’t a way for women to participate in football. There are no women’s football teams in college. By allowing this one exception to the rule, we could bring back so many other sports that would have participation. We could bring back sports that have been eliminated simply out of fear of legal recourse. This would grant more students a wealth of opportunities that they currently don’t have.
Title IX may be good in theory, but in practice, it has failed entire generations of student athletes.