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April 19, 2005
Title IX: A Decree of Injustice
On June 23, 1972, Richard Nixon signed Title IX as an Educational Amendment. (Women’s Sports Foundation History). Broadly worded at first, Title IX regulations soon defined the meaning of the law (USA Today). Currently it 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,” (US Department of Labor- Constitution).
“Title IX was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees of educational institutions” (Sadker). However, Title IX is inherently discriminatory against males. Perhaps the main reason for this is the ugly offspring of Title IX known as proportionality. Proportionality requires that an institution’s athletic population must be an equal ratio to its general student body. While schools strive to create the proper proportionality of male to female athletic programs they are scaling back on male programs. Nationwide we are seeing a scaling back of male programs for the sake of up and starting female programs. Since the inception of Title IX, the number of women participating in collegiate athletics has increased from roughly 30,000 to over 150,000 by the year 2001. Accordingly, more than 400 men’s athletics teams have been dismissed since the incursion of Title IX.
When referring to the amendment of proportionality, the Title IX principle of increased female participation is acceptable, but changes must be made in the proportionality standards which are used to gauge Title IX compliance. It is not a matter of whether Title IX offers an equal numbers of participants, but whether enough opportunities exist for men to compete. It is obvious that male students are more likely to participate in collegiate athletics than female students. This is the reason why proportionality cannot work: it keeps too many men off the field. University of Maryland Athletic Director Deborah Yow suggests implementing a 50/50 athletic ratio based on sex which would ignore the ratio existent in the institution’s student body. Another idea is to only count female students of the traditional college age (18-23) in determining an institution’s proportion of men to women. Davis argues that a “high percentage of older students, many of them women” are likely not to participate in athletics (22). This would have a profound effect on the calculation of the ratio of male-to-female athletes. Older female students who are more absorbed by their student studies would not be taken into account, thus encouraging the participation of more male athletes. Dan Gable says, “Let’s keep Title IX, but get rid of proportionality or at least improve the equity of its application so all athletes will have a fair opportunity to participate” (7).
There are more effective ways for institutions to comply than proportionality. Title IX compliance may be proved or disproved in several senses, but “proportionality is currently the only method impervious to legal challenges” (Davis 22). “Attaining proportionality in athletic programs is the only way to be safe from lawsuits they cannot win” (Gable 7). Title IX compliance could be determined by issuing student body polls which would offer an unbiased opinion of the state of gender in athletics at a given institution.
Finding a fair alternative to Title IX offers a difficult task indeed. Proponents of Title IX argue that any changes to Title IX would have a toppling effect on female athletics which could not be overcome. Furthermore, proponents of Title IX argue that even to this day female athletics are at a disadvantage to male athletics.
It is rather quizzical that we would cut back on something that means so much more to male athletes than it does to female athletes. Title IX “instantly creates male queues and female shortages” (Epstein). This means there are more than enough males willing and able to participate in athletics, but not enough females to suffice. This leaves males without a fighting chance to compete. Title IX opponents are also skeptical about whether the law was responsible at all for the recent rise in women’s athletics. Epstein states that the increased participation by females since the conception of Title IX may be attributed to changes in social norms since the 1970s have caused, and not Title IX itself. One example is the creation of the WNBA, or Women's National Basketball Association. It was once true that young girls may view televised games of the NBA and not see a female competing in the games. With the inception of the WNBA, however, they may see a recreation or career worth pursuing that is feasible in their young minds.
In 1972, America was in a sexist state of the nation, Title IX was extremely needed. In its early days, Title IX was able to make major advancements for women’s academics and athletics in the college level. But as time wore on, and society grew, I believe Title IX grew obsolete. Now women have been so highly elevated in our society, Title IX is no longer needed. It has essentially become a “reverse sexist” document which cuts funding of several male sports. Because of these funding cuts many sports are dropped, and many prospective athletes in these sports have thus lost hope of pursuing their athletics at a higher level. Thus Title IX has ceased being relevance; it has now become legislation that hurts a demographic rather than helping it.
I will concede that athletics give females a chance to embrace school spirit and their fellow peers. It is a great way for a young woman to better understand teamwork and the dependence of others in their everyday lives. They get an understanding of trust and competition that is hard to find elsewhere. Now that I am done stating the irrelevant and inconsequential, I will tell you why female sports are unnecessary. There are plenty other activities that females may engage in that are as satisfying as sports if not more so. There are debate teams and clubs inclusive of varying fields of study. These groups promote an enhancement of character and intelligence that is not found in athletics. While this could be an argument against men, it is not relevant because we are worth making tradeoffs on. In the long run we can bring an entertainment value and possibly a career to ourselves and others by our pursuits of this endeavor.
Title IX has greatly changed the lives of women, but not for the betterment of themselves or the men of our society. Everyone in today’s world strives to be “equal” and complains of unfair treatment. What happened to making things happen on your own without complaining about every little obstacle that crosses your path? Disallowing a proportionate amount of female athletic programs is for the greater good, and it should be continued. Female athletics are being given enough benefits, and they have a similar opportunity of education as men. Title IX has not had a profound influence on the lives of women, but it has crippled the lives of many men.
Epstein, Richard A. “Just scrap Title IX.” National Law Journal 24 (2002): 35.
David Sadker, Ed.D. 2004. "What Is Title IX?" [webpage] Aug 2004; http://www.american.edu/sadker/titleix.htm [Accessed 12 Mar 2005].
Davis, Michelle R. “Title IX Panel Contemplates Easing Proportionality Test.” Education Week 11 Dec. 2002: 22.
Gable, Dan. “What to do with Title IX.” Sporting News Feb. 2003: 7.
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