Earlier this month, the Washington Post published an op-ed blaming Title IX for targeting male teams for elimination at universities. Due to many schools’ struggles with finances during the economic downturn, they have cut athletic teams. H. Clay McEldowney, the author of the piece, states that more men’s teams are getting cut than women’s teams and blames Title IX:
A big part of the answer is that the federal law governing collegiate athletic opportunity, known as Title IX, is indifferent to economics. Rich schools and poor, large and small, those with high-profile programs or without — all must abide by the law’s strict enforcement regime or face federal investigation, the wrath of trial lawyers or both.
What McEldowney fails to provide in his column is any statistical evidence that these schools are spending more on female athletics than men, or the number of male and female athletes previous to the cuts.
He also makes some gross overstatements: Title IX is not subject to a “strict enforcement regime.” Actually, schools are able to comply with Title IX in three different ways, including demonstrating a commitment to expanding sports for the underrepresented sex and surveying the interests and abilities of their students to show that they are offering exactly the sports the students want.
It’s simple, really: women and men deserve equal treatment and opportunity in athletics. No matter if the pie is big or small, women should receive their fair share of it. In Pennsylvania alone, there are 8,000 missing athletic opportunities for college women (PDF). The situation for female athletes is dismal at the high school level.
Title IX is about equality, not maintaining the status quo of privileging men’s sports over women’s sports. Unfortunately, despite what McEldowney says, equality is still a long way away.