I pride myself on being less cynical than the typical journalist. And I’m certainly not someone to rain on the parade of Title IX’s 40th anniversary. Griping about an anniversary commemoration is like showing up at a July 4 fireworks display to gripe about drone attacks or Guantanamo or all the Native Americans who died when Columbus came over here. Time and place. Time and place. And besides, I think we’d agree that Title IX, like the Declaration of Independence, is generally a Good Thing.
That said, this sort of celebration brings out a few groups of people:
- People who have legitimate concerns over Title IX enforcement.
- People who twist those concerns into spurious self-defeating arguments and defenses of every penny spent on football.
- Title IX advocates who understand some of these concerns.
- Title IX advocates who ignore these concerns and won’t rest until every college and high school has a women’s modern pentathlon team, no matter how many men’s sports are cut to reach that point.
(All right, I’m exaggerating slightly on groups 2 and 4. Slightly.)
I’m in no mood to write an essay. I did that 15 months ago, and I either got it right at the time or haven’t made enough intellectual progress to think of anything better.
But I’m hoping the following list of questions — to which I’m willing to listen to answers — will spur some reflection among groups 2 and 4 to ease them into groups 1 and 3. Maybe they’ll even find some middle ground and become group 13. OK, 31.
– Shouldn’t we be more concerned with mostly male Georgia Tech adding more female students than majority-female North Carolina adding more female student-athletes to a staggeringly successful women’s sports program?
– Who’s going to speak up for traditional nonrevenue sports against plans like this while football programs bleed athletic departments dry? (Yes, they quite often do.)
– Why do we see NCAA numbers showing how few programs make money while the Business of College Sports blog ranks programs as if they were Forbes billionaires wondering which building should be rebuilt in marble?
– If you’re trying to meet the desires and aptitudes of the underrepresented gender in your student body (one of the prongs of the three-pronged Title IX test), wouldn’t a JV soccer team be better than a varsity equestrian team?
– Why is Title IX all about sports, anyway? What about us musicians? We draw bigger crowds than some sports teams. We travel a bit.
– And what about scientists? Your daughter has a better chance at a career in medicine or engineering than she does at a college soccer scholarship. Shouldn’t she be pursuing it?
– Why should college scholarship opportunities play any role in determining what counts as a sport? I can tell you right now that 95 percent of the kids in my local U8 boys soccer league have no shot whatsoever at a college scholarship. Should they quit?
– Why does the third-string tight end for the football team need a scholarship while the starting left midfielder doesn’t?
– Why are colleges adding sports such as rowing in which nearly 90% of all intercollegiate athletes had no experience before entering college? (See the study.)
– Women’s wrestling is a valid Olympic sport in which the USA is pretty good, and adding it requires little to no new equipment for a school that already has a wrestling program. Why aren’t colleges adding that rather than cutting their men’s wrestling programs?
– Why are schools so good at adding rowing and bowling but so bad at the very basics of meeting all female students’ needs? (Case in point: sexual harassment)
– College biathlon. When’s it gonna happen?
– Can’t some sports be identified as Olympic development and protected in some partnership with the USOC?
– Does anyone have patience to let sports grow? For example: When I was at Duke, women’s basketball rarely drew in the hundreds. Now they draw in the thousands.
– Why do we tolerate the corrupt college football bowl system?
Maybe that’ll get the conversation started so that we really will preserve all that’s good about Title IX and not end up with a bunch of lawsuits and a ton of program cuts blamed (rightly or wrongly) on the law’s enforcement.