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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded programs (Yuracko electronic page 1 of 37). Many people view Title IX as the choice between a “favorite college football team or adding more sports teams for girls who are not as interested in sports as boys” (Lopiano). Through interpretations of the law, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and courts have used Title IX as a means of forcing schools to meet a proportionality quota. Although the law does not directly force schools to eliminate spots for male athletes in order to make room for women, most schools cannot create enough teams or spots to effectively accommodate women. Because of these interpretations Title IX has had a harmful and negative effect on high school and college sports.
There are three legal definitions for Title IX. The first is that “no person shall be denied the opportunity to participate in athletics because of sex”. The second definition is that “separate sex-based teams are permissible if team membership is based on competitive skill or for contact sports. If a school operates a men’s team but no women’s team in a particular sport, women must be permitted to try out for the men’s team unless the team is a contact sport”. Thirdly “a school must provide equal athletic opportunity for both sexes” (Yuracko 5).
Courts usually regulate Title IX by the interpreted proportion quota, which can be met by one of three ways. First a school must provide “athletic opportunities for its male and female students in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments. Secondly, schools where the members of one sex have been and are underrepresented among athletes the school must show a continuing practice program of expansion which is responsive to the developing interest and abilities of the members of the underrepresented sex. Thirdly, if a school cannot show that “the members of one sex are underrepresented among athletes, and the institution cannot show a continuing practice of program expansion, the school can show that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program”(Yuracko 5). The main question is “whether Title IX as currently interpreted is the right vehicle for achieving the goal” (Rhoads electronic page 2 of 6).
There are two main reasons why courts usually use proportions as the means to judge compliance with Title IX. The first reason is that since the title was passed in the early seventies no college has shown a significant “practice of program expansion for women” if the school does not already provide “proportionally equal opportunities for both sexes” (Yuracko 6). Secondly, any time female students bring a Title IX lawsuit against a school arguing that they are entitled to have a particular athletic team funded, it is difficult for any school to defend its lack of proportional opportunities by arguing that it has fully accommodated women's interests and abilities (Yuracko 6).
Title IX derives its main criticism from the controversial interpretations of the proportionality requirement. This criticism arises because the “sex-based proportionality of athletic spots is inconsistent with Title IX’s nondiscrimination mandate because the rule gives female students a competitive advantage” (Yuracko 7). This requirement fails to adhere to Title VII "careers-open-to-talents" distribution model. Under the careers-open-to-talents model, individuals compete for jobs that are awarded based on relevant talents and abilities. “The proportionality requirement does not fit this model because it guarantees female students proportional varsity athletic spots even if they have lower levels of athletic interest and ability than do male students” (Yuracko 1 and 2).
In the real world no one is awarded a job based on a sex ratio. Sex is irrelevant to almost all jobs. As a result, women and men compete directly against each other for the same positions and are measured on the same scale. Title VII requires direct competition between women and men, and ensures that employers do not exclude women from consideration for a particular job unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for the position at issue, which is rarely ever the case. (Yuracko 7).
“Those in favor of reform, argue that the way in which Title IX has been interpreted by federal regulatory agencies and courts has resulted in a significant decrease of athletic opportunities for men” (Rhoades 1 & 2). “Minor men’s sports such as wrestling, swimming & diving, track & field, and golf are all “under fire” because they do not meet “effective accommodations” (Walton). The effects of Title IX on athletic departments have been paramount. Because of Title IX more than 21,000 sports teams for male athletes have been cut from 1985 to 1997, and more than 359 male teams have disappeared since 1992. Christine Stolba of the Independent Women’s Forum reported to the Title IX commission that “between 1993 and 1999 alone 53 men’s golf teams, 39 men’s track teams, 43 wrestling teams, and 16 baseball teams have been eliminated”. This even includes “the University of Miami’s diving team, which has produced 15 Olympic athletes” (Rhoads 2).
Wrestling especially has been hit hard by schools attempts to meet Title IX’s proportionality ratio. Although wrestling is considered a “minor men’s sport” it has been a collegiate sport for close to 100 years and “ranks fourth in revenue production of all NCAA Championships” (Rhoads 2). Based on research by Stolba, scores of collegiate wrestling teams have been discontinued to satisfy Title IX’s conditions (Rhoads 2). Since the title became law wrestling teams have been indirectly forced to eliminate weight classes, spots on the team, or in worst case scenarios the entire team to satisfy proportion quotas making it closer to that of student-enrollment with respect to sex (Rhoads 2).
Athletic opportunities have been proven to give a lot of benefits to young men. As boys mature into men the increased release of testosterone has been shown in some adolescents to “stimulate pointless violence” (Rhoads 6). Through the participation in sports young men are able to channel their aggression and violent tendencies safely and healthily. This is especially true for sports such as wrestling and football where adolescent males are able to release their aggression in “rule-bound activities” (Rhoads 6).
Many feel that Title IX would be more effective if schools conducted regular interest tests. Many critics feel that gender interests in sports can be directly correlated with the number of walk-on positions that each gender goes out for. “Girls are not as interested in sports because they do not have nearly as many girls come out for walk on positions on college teams as they do for guys sports. Most college football programs have 100-150 players, and will attract 60-75 walk-ons in any given season” (Lopiano). Girls on the other hand will usually quit a team sport and do something else with their collegiate career once they realize they will not be on scholarship and that they will not have a chance to play. The main reason that most males will stick around and be apart of a team in which they will never play is because it allows them to connect with other men which would be much harder for them to do if they weren’t playing a sport. In addition men are more likely to get an emotional connection with their peers through a competitive activity, where as women are able to get the same connection through friends outside of sports (Rhoads 6).
It is very surprising that the defendants of Title IX focus so strongly on the ratios of male and female athletes. Besides athletics girls “out number boys in almost every extracurricular activity” ranging from student government and honor societies, to a wide variety of other clubs and organizations (Rhoads 6). In addition girls have been shown to outperform boys in virtually every academic category. Currently males make up only 44 percent of all college students and this number is predicted to be even lower (around 41 percent) by the year 2010. Moreover, women are more likely to graduate from college and earn 25 percent more bachelors degrees then men (Rhoads 6).
It is apparent that Title IX needs to be reevaluated to better accommodate both male and female athletes. There are several methods that can be incorporated to improve Title IX so that both sexes can reap the benefits. One method that is already in practice at the University of Maryland is to make a schools cheerleading and dance programs competitive. This would help schools meet the proportionality interpretation without having to eliminate as many male spots or teams. Another method that could be used would be the testing students interest in the participating in sports. This would help schools from creating unwanted sports, and would allow schools to distribute athletic spots and scholarships based on the proportion of gender interest rather than just gender proportions. Regardless something needs to be done so that Title IX can fulfill the positive intentions it once had.

Works Cited

Ph.D. Lopiano, Donna. “Equity in Women’s Sports –A Health and Fairness Perspective”

Rhoads, Steven E. “Sports, Sex, and Title IX” Public Interest. Iss. 154; pg 86-91 (Summer 2004). Washington.
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Walton, Theresa A. “Title IX: Forced to Wrestle Up the Backside”. Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal. Las Vegas: Fall 2003. Vol . 12, Iss.2; pg. 5

Yuracko, Kimberly A. “One For You and One For Me: Is Title IX’s Sex-Based Proportionality Requirement For College Varsity Athletic Positions Defensible?” Northwestern University Law Review. Vol. 97, Iss 2; pg 731-801. Chicago.

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