Title IX and Feminism in Sports

In Massachusetts, feminist opposition to boys participation on girls sports teams has raged for months. This year, about 24 high school boys had joined girls swimming teams, because Title IX had eliminated boys teams at their schools. One boy actually helped his team win the Massachusetts South Division swimming championship with a record breaking swim - outraging feminists.

Many are now demanding boys be banned from girls sports. One female coach said “They can’t have a boy be the girls state champion”. The Herald (a Massachusetts media outlet) openly opposes boys on girls teams. It also openly endorses girls on boys teams.

Throughout the state, girls have played football or ice hockey on boys teams, competed alongside boys in golf and wrestled on boys teams. However, boys are now joining girls teams such as swimming in increasing numbers due to the fact Title IX has eliminated their own teams. Boys can receive benefits from joining these teams. Norwood High coach, Kim Goodwin, said she was an opponent of boys competing with girls before she had boys on her team. Then her opinion changed. She saw the boys, who did not participate in other sports, develop self-confidence and mature. “They work so incredibly hard in the pool, and they seem really grateful to be on the team,” she said.

On the national level, a report by Karen Owoc "Title IX and Its Effect on Men’s
Collegiate Athletics"
stated schools have eliminated more than 2,200 men’s collegiate athletic teams since 1981 in order to comply with Title IX law. Additionally the report described a 1979 Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Interpretation of this law. The interpretation established three rules by which schools can demonstrate compliance. The first rule, deemed by courts as the most important, states a school is in compliance if participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective fulltime undergraduate enrollments. Thus, if a school is 58% female, then about 58% of its athletes should be female.The other two rules deal with expanding women's programs and proof that both genders interest in sports participation have been accommodated.

Rule #1 is dramatic because the percentage of college students being male continues to drop. By law, more male teams must be eliminated and more female teams created.

Additionally,feminism has created anti male sentiment within the Department of Education (DOE). For example, its new regulations allow schools to kick out any male student accused of sexual harassment without conclusive proof of guilt. Also, many of DOE's sexual harassment guidelines are based on definitions issued by the feminist group 'American Association of University Women'. The DOE's anti male outlook increases male students reluctance to attend higher education. This creates additional need to eliminate more male teams.

Interestingly, obtaining equal access into higher education is not a function of Title IX. Having a predominately female student body is considered acceptable.

The fact that the feminist oriented DOE is uninterested in equal access to higher education and that there is such hypocrisy in Massachusetts concerning boys participation in sports shows feminism was never about equality. Rather, it was about hindering boys opportunity to mature into adulthood & limiting their access to education in favor of girls. Title IX is simply a tool of feminism.

February 1, 2012


Huskeratty said...

A good analysis, and thank you for your input- as I'll point out a bit later, IMHO other countries have a much more sensible approach to this issue, and a number of American athletes have been moving abroad to take advantage of them, at the USA's increasing expense. I'm an attorney myself and ironically, was involved in a number of pro-Title IX cases many years ago- I've been a major booster for women's sports and both of my daughters have been actively involved in them since primary school.

But many of us have come to realize that the core problem is the rigidity and adversarial nature of Title IX enforcement, with the almost exclusive focus on the proportionality prong which causes a "worst of both scenario." The general thrust of Title IX is valuable, as is the general growth of women's sports, but the proportionality prong was not part of the original legislation- as you have indicated, in a school with a 50/50 male-female student ratio, Title IX proportionality requires a strict 50/50 balance on their sports teams as well, regardless of actual interest in sports among the student body.

There have been several decent studies of these interest levels, and even in the wake of heavy marketing of sports opportunities to both men and women, the interest in men's sports remains significantly higher. Yet the proportionality prong of Title IX imposes an artificial standard that refuses to consider this, and demands arbitrary equivalence among the sports teams- with often ludicrous results, like women's crew teams for universities in the deserts of Arizona or Utah. As a conscious booster of women's sports for my own daughter and other university women, I see no contradiction to acknowledging these basic differences in interest, allowing for more men's sports teams to flourish, while at the same time vigorously ensuring that women have the athletic opportunities that truly interest them.

A further serious issue, alongside the proportionality prong misapplication, is that the inclusion of football and basketball in the scholarship calculations seriously skews the numbers in all the worst ways. Division I and II universities are reluctant to cut men's football and basketball for obvious reasons- it's those two sports that bring in the revenues which support virtually every other sport in the athletic department, men's and women's included. So they provide a special and essential economic function, far over and above the personal and athletic enrichment functions of college athletics in general. Yet football rosters are generally included in the overall Title IX proportionality calculations, with the result that other men's sports are gutted- again, without consideration of the higher interest in other men's sports such as wrestling, volleyball, swimming and diving, gymnastics and track and field.

The impact of this rigid, adversarial proportional enforcement of Title IX has been disastrous for men in US collegiate athletics, as well as for their financial prospects. College has become extremely expensive, and with far fewer opportunities in terms of athletic scholarships, men at universities face not only decreased opportunities in sports, but crippling debt when they graduate. The damage is especially severe- and it's fair to point this out- for white college men and potential athletes, as they're disproportionately involved in the sports that are cut (such as crew, volleyball, wrestling and tennis), though black and Latino male athletes have also been hard-hit especially by cuts in sports like Cross-Country and Track and Field.

Huskeratty said...

The gloomy news is that I don't see anything changing the Title IX proportionality fiasco in the US anytime soon, if anything the proportionality prong will be entrenching itself even deeper over the next decade. Politically speaking, there's no organized political movement to change it. The USA's so-called "conservatives" and Republicans are less-than-useless in reforming Title IX, affirmative action or providing other sensible policies with broad support- even when they had complete control of the government under Reagan and the Bushes, they did nothing to institute sensible reforms. US pretend conservatives like Romney seem to have no interest in actually doing anything conservative or quality for the country- their only interest is in money and short term enriching themselves and their ultra-wealthy buddies who are already privileged, to the detriment of the vast majority of Americans (including the college-age men who are bearing the brunt of the financial damage from the Title IX cuts).

So the Title IX excesses won't be reformed. And they're damaging to women's teams as well as men's- without the sharing of coaching expertise, scrimmages and equipment among the men and women athletes, the women also miss out on some valuable tips to improve their skills.

This is maybe the most interesting and worrying consequence of rigid Title IX proportionality- the downfall of the United States as an international sports power (and, fairly or not, many of the perceptions of US power in general by other countries).

I've been noticing a fast-increasing trend of Americans emigrating overseas in the wake of the economic and social problems confronting the country, and many of the emigrants are college-age Americans, with no intention of ever returning- they'll be working and raising their families in other countries.

Many of these emigrating Americans are going to the more solid European countries- Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, even a few pockets in Italy and Spain that are doing relatively well. (Britain's in even worse shape than the US these days, so not many there.) Most of the emigrants have some ancestry in these countries AFAIK, but not all of them. Others are heading to East Asian countries like Taiwan, Singapore, China and Korea, still others to South or Central American places that are doing relatively well like Chile, Panama, Nicaragua, even Argentina and Uruguay.

A remarkable effect of this is that many of them are flourishing as student-athletes in their new adopted countries, to an extent they couldn't do in the US where they were born. This is especially true of college-age men. I now work in international athletics recruiting and arbitration between US and overseas sports teams, and so I've had a good deal of contact with the American athletes overseas, especially in Europe or South America. What they all point out is that these countries achieve a more sensible balance of men's and women's sports, encourage and accommodate women athletes to a high level, yet do it a non-adversarial fashion that doesn't hurt the men's sports or cut their support. In fact, the men and women athletes help each other to develop in other countries rather than vying from a shrinking pie, with many of the women's sports sharing facilities and coaches with the men's athletics.

So the result is that other countries are increasingly gaining superiority in a variety of Olympic sports at the expense of the United States- both men's and women's sports. In many cases, in fact, they're even gaining the participation of US-born athletes, pushed out by the strict adversarial enforcement of our own Title IX proportionality prong!

Rob said...

Informative commentary Huskeratty!
What started out as an idea with good intentions has become something completely different.

Anonymous said...

Title IX has been a source of injustice and insanity from the very beginning. It seemed like such a "nice" thing to do: to give the girls a chance to play sports, just like the boys. But it has become a destructive and malevolent force that could not do more damage if it had been intentionally designed do destroy all that is good in sports.

Girls are not boys, and the attempt to deny the obvious only leads to moral mahem and draconian social engineering.

Now, boys who want to compete are denied opportunities because not enough girls can be found to "balance" the boys. And the poor boys are forced to quit sports altogether or to join the girls' team, perpetuating the insanity.

Someday, Title IX will be torn down and it will be roundly mocked as one of history's most bizarre experiments, and one of mankind's most stupid ideas.

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