Title IX: Not “Devastating” to Men’s Sports

On Saturday, the Washington Post published the following letter to the editor. Contrary to the allegations of the letter, Title IX has not damaged men’s sports. Instead, it has increased opportunities for women and girls to have a fair shot at sports while also increasing sports opportunities for men and boys.

We were cheered to see the Oct. 8 Sports article “Closing Gender Gap in the Pool” acknowledge the fact that Title IX has had a devastating effect on male participation at all levels of swimming competition.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t limited to swimming. In fact, the manner in which Title IX is enforced has threatened the existence of a number of men’s Olympic sports at the collegiate level, including gymnastics, wrestling, fencing, rowing and water polo.

With China challenging American dominance in Olympic sports, how can we remain competitive if we continue to allow federal gender quotas to destroy the uniquely American collegiate sports system that has for generations developed so many of our Olympic champions?

ERIC PEARSON
Chairman
College Sports Council
Washington

Here are the facts: according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, only 295,000 girls competed in high school sports in 1972, compared to 3.67 million boys. Fast forward 35 years, and the number of girls participating in high school sports has increased to 3,021,807. At the same time, the number of boys participating in high school sports is also at a record high, with 4,321,103 boys taking part.

A big misconception about Title IX is that it requires schools to cut men’s sports to fund women’s sports. This is simply untrue. Title IX requires that schools offer the same opportunity to participate in sports and quality of treatment for male and female athletes. Some schools choose to focus their budgets for men’s sports on expensive programs like football and therefore cut smaller, less revenue-producing men’s sports programs like swimming. That is the choice of the school’s athletic administration. Female athletes still deserve to have equal opportunities to play sports.

Another myth about Title IX is that it imposes a quota system on college sports programs, like the author of this letter claims. Colleges can comply with Title IX in three ways:

  • They can measure the ratio of male and female students against the ratio of male and female athletes. For example, if men constitute 51% of students at a college, they should make up about 51% of the athletes at that college. If the ratio is close, the school is probably in compliance with Title IX;
  • They can demonstrate that the school has a history and continuing practice of expanding sports programs for the underrepresented sex;
  • Or they can show that the college has already accommodated the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.

Many opponents of Title IX, like the College Sports Council, decry the first prong of compliance as a quota system, but it’s clearly not. It’s just common sense. If women are 50% of the student body at a college, but only 30% of the athletes, something isn’t adding up.

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