Greed, Not Title IX, Responsible for the Cutting of Men's Sports Programs
Wrestling, Swimming, Tennis and Golf Programs are not being Cut because of Title IX
I’ve played sports my whole life. They are a teacher, a test of character and provide an outlet that helps guide us along the journey of life. But this human necessity had been disproportionally denied our sisters—until Title IX was passed. In recent years, though, the landmark legislation has come under criticism. Organizations like the College Sports Council (CSC) claim that striving for women’s equality has unfairly resulted in numerous cuts to men’s sports programs. Wrestling, men’s gymnastics, and tennis are typically among the programs that leave men out in the cold. But before I flush out the facts, let’s cherish the history first.
In 1973, less than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports. That number today is 3.4 million. But the chance to sling and sweat like the boys wasn’t necessarily the primary motivation for the Senator who originally sponsored the bill. Birch Bayh of Indiana found sports participation led to a 20 percent increase in women’s education, and a 40 percent rise in employment for women aged 25-34.
Numbers that probably eluded most people, she kept the 36 word addendum to the 1972 Education Reform Bill under the radar too. ““If we lobby, people will ask questions about the bill, and they will find out what it would really do,” Bayh revealed in the documentary, Sporting Chance.
Sneaking through congress and gaining Nixon’s signature, the intent eventually revealed itself. Colleges had three years to comply with the gender equality provision of the overall act.
Of course, there were still hurdles to overcome as colleges dragged their feet, but the results cannot be argued with.
So that brings us to today. The CSC has long argued that the strict proportionality quota is the flaw in Title IX that freezes out men. In other words, if half the student body is female, half the athletes must be.
Adding onto their math, if there are 3.2 million female high school athletes and 4.5 million male athletes, an obvious gap in interest level exists. So colleges inherently must struggle to achieve a strict ratio proportionality.
Either way, Title IX leaves colleges two choices in the view of CSC. They can add more women's teams or cut back male teams, and over the last 20 years, the landscape is riddled with high profile cuts.
On the other hand, a January 2018 Forbes article by David Berri seems to make the math obsolete. According to a 2009 study in the Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports, 80 percent of schools are not achieving the proportionality requirement, the article cites.
But schools stay in compliance by achieving any of a “three prong test.” Those are proportionality, demonstrating consistent program expansion for women, and showing accommodation of student interests or abilities.
So why are programs being cut? At the Division III level, they aren’t. Programs have been increasing, according to a study by Daniel Marburger and Nancy Hogshead-Makar.
Division I is a different story, but a story we are all too familiar with. Schools are pouring more money into the higher revenue programs at the expense of the lower. So instead of identifying greed as the force that is driving the inequity, Title IX is being spun as the problem.
Berri concurs in conclusion. “So next time someone argues that the expansion of women's sports after Title IX hurt men's sports… well, remember that although people might tell this story, the data reported in the academic literature seems to be saying something very different.”
So as the colleges deflect, we must keep up the vigil. This way women don’t lose the title they deserve, and we can find common ground to fight for all athletes.
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