Title IX

Title IX. Men groan when they hear the phrase. Female activists celebrate. Many are indifferent. At times, the phrase “Title IX” has a negative connotation but at other times, endearing hope. This act of legislation has helped to make giant strives in the equalities of women’s collegiate opportunities; however, it has come with some costs to men, especially in the sporting arena.

The Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, otherwise known as Title IX, was approved in June 1972. The act was created to distribute equal opportunities among female and male students in government-financed institutions. Title IX states:

“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…”

(For a complete wording of the law, go to the U.S. Department of Justice website).

Title IX applies to academic admissions, financial aid, and athletic programs of educational institutions.  Because of the foreseen effect of Title IX on collegiate athletics, Senator John Tower proposed an amendment two years after the law was passed. The Tower Amendment would have exempted revenue-producing sports, such as football, from compliance of Title IX and the “opportunities” created by each university. The amendment was denied.

In 1975, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare published a three-prong compliance interpretation in regards to collegiate athletics. Universities have one of three ways to fulfill Title IX requirements. These options are as followed: universities must provide “substantially proportionate” opportunities in respect to the undergraduate enrollment at the school, demonstrate continual growth in opportunities of the underrepresented gender (usually female), or effectively accommodate interests and talents of the underrepresented gender. The compliance measures have led to increased opportunities for female collegiate athletes in terms of scholarships, representation in the athletic department, and competitions available.

One study conducted in 2006 found female representation in college sports had increased by more than 450 percent, and the number of high school female athletes had risen by a factor of nine (Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, Women in Intercollegiate Sport: A Longitudinal National Study Twenty-Nine Year Update 1977-2006 (2006)).  This report shows Title IX has been beneficial to countless female athletes over the years. However, critics of Title IX suggest the “proportionality clause” hinders male collegiate sports. Male opportunities in sports are disappearing in order to make female participation proportional to the undergraduate enrollment of the university. Critics claim there is no counterbalance for the loss of male opportunities in the fight for gender equality.

For example, the student undergraduate enrollment at the University of Georgia is 58 percent female and 42 percent male. In adhering to the “proportionality clause,” the number of athletes at University of Georgia must be approximately 58 percent female and 42 percent male. The implications for sports teams mean many male athletes must be cut in order to meet the quota. Often times these male athletes are from smaller, non-revenue sports such as swimming. Very few athletic departments would make reduction from the football roster because it is the sport that brings in money to support the other athletic programs.

Another example of the negative effects of Title IX can be exemplified in the recent Women’s and Men’s Swimming and Diving NCAA Championships. Each year, a set number of swimmers and divers are invited to their respective NCAA Championships. Traditionally, 22 males are invited and 31 females are invited in each event. This year, the number of males was decreased by four allowing only 17 male swimmers in each event. Out of all the Division I male swimmers, only 17 will swim at the national competition in each event. This hardly represents a “national” meet since most every male swimmer will make it to finals at night (top 16). This limited number eliminates the need for competition at the meet and hinders male opportunities in the sport of swimming. The reduction in the number of male swimmers and divers is an indirect result of Title IX. Gender equalities must remain constant under the law, thus cuts were made in the NCAA swimming and diving competition, a non-revenue competition, to keep numbers balanced.

Although this review of Title IX is nowhere near complete, I hope to have provided a quick snapshot of some of the flaws of the statute. I am an advocate for gender equality and understand when redistributing opportunities some people will be treated unfairly. I think the best solution would be to take football out of the equation when it comes to distributing opportunities among athletes. This proposal is similar to the Tower Amendment, which would have eliminated all revenue-raising sports from the equation. It’s not fair to allow a heavy weight sport like football (in terms of roster size and revenue profits) take most of the spots allowed for male athletes under the proportionality clause. I am very thankful for the privilege to be awarded an athletic scholarship; however, I do believe the ramifications of Title IX are burdensome on many male athletes (of non-revenue sports) searching for the same opportunity I have.

 

 

This graph demonstrates the shrinking gap in gender differences in collegiate athletics from 1971 to 2002. According to the American Association of University Women, women’s participation has risen 403 percent while men’s has only increased by 23 percent in the last 31 years (graph courtesy of Medill Reports Chicago).

 

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