November 29, 2010

Title IX

Title IX, which simply reads,

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

really opened up women's sports in America... but the law which once allowed Norwell girls to try out for the boys' tennis team because there was no girls' tennis team and which created the great girls' basketball system we see today, has become a hammer in modern schools. To avoid lawsuits, high schools and colleges have decided that the ratio of boys to girls in a school must be reflected in athletics. Since for decades the education system in America has been focusing on providing opportunities for women, colleges currently have a ratio of 60 women for every 40 men. Thus, to avoid lawsuits, colleges work to have 60 female athletes for every 40 male athletes.

The trouble is, after great early strides added girls' sports, and since (in general) more men seem to want to participate in sports than women, the only cost-effective way to achieve the matching ratio in athletics was not to add girls' sports -- because the coaches, the facilities and the time were just not feasible in the budgets of the schools. The only way to achieve the needed ratio to avoid lawsuits was to eliminate boys' teams, and that is what many high schools and colleges are doing and have done.

What's interesting to me, though, is that Title IX says nothing, not one word, about sports. The law that once allowed access for women into shop class and for men into home economics class, has been turned into a one way sports quota system. But who is looking out for equality in the ratios between guys and gals in, say, cheerleading, or journalism, or theater, or band or other really important things like attendance and GPA? Nobody, that's who, and perhaps that's why more women than men attend and are successful in college these days.

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