Derek Johnson Muses

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Suzanne Venker on Title IX: Time to Revise?

Sometime when I was watching ESPN in the last year, I saw a commercial where girls where playing sports together outside, and then, one by one, began leaving the field, their uniforms changing into beautiful dresses and formal business suits. At the end of the commercial, there was a brief message trying to convince young women to stay in athletics. Implication: if you have to convince girls to stay in athletics, you’ve got too many programs.

Title IX, while it was necessary at the time it was implemented to make sure athletic departments offered women’s sports, has since over-proliferated a women’s programs when the cost of all sports has exploded. Suzanne Venker, a conservative author and speaker, has written about the affects of Title IX in her book The Flip Side of Feminism.

“Enrollment in academic courses is now approaching 60 percent women to 40 percent men…athletic teams must enforce this same ratio. This rule is absurd because it’s a fact of human nature that men are more interested than women in participating in competitive sports….”

Also skewing this ratio men who want to work in trades like plumbing, mechanics, or construction, are more likely to go to a two year college and never set foot in a D-1 school. Venker continues:

“When the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in 2010 recommended colleges use a survey to determine student interest in athletics as the ‘best method available’ for complying with the law without requiring arbitrary gender quotas, the Obama administration-predictably-rejected that helpful suggestion, sticking to the proportionality rule…Demanding equal participation in college sports is absurd-and it’s wholly unfair to men.”

In addition to using a student interest survey, sampling participation in high school and junior high could be a fair way to determine which programs a college has to offer.

Due to radical feminism, Title IX is that it is Teflon when it comes to the rising cost of college athletics. Every now and then, a”serious journalist” will gasp over million-dollar football budgets…without mentioning the fact that there’s a federal law mandating universities carry programs that are destined to loose money. This is why you can’t a reasonable conversation about paying college football players because a chunk of every dollar every scholarship football player brings the university automatically gets cut off and sent to support another athletic program at the university, even though the money is better spent on the track teams rather than a linebacker’s weekend binge.

Let’s consider how the culture has changed since Title IX: major college sports aren’t just a ten-hour a week, extra-curricular activities. They are full-time jobs that involve regular travel (and longer travel because of conference realignment), plus off-season workouts, on top of being a student. When Title IX was implemented in the early 1970’s, woman’s college sports were underfunded or non-existent. Now the market has been over-saturated.

Cutting back on woman’s programs could actually help the competitive balance in woman’s sports. Consider how woman’s college basketball has been largely dominated by two programs, UConn and Tennessee, over the last several decades. Consider UConn’s long winning streak a couple of years ago: women’s college basketball is often the top women’s sport on campus,and takes little money to compete in, because they share a facility with the men. How can UConn carry on such a streak in this earth-is-flat, even-resources world? Cutting back the number of woman’s teams can help the school focus its resources.

Granted, Title IX can’t be scrapped completely, and indeed, there is a very fair component to it: making sure woman’s programs have funds. Many unions in this country began when workers were vastly underpaid, overworked (think sixty hour work weeks), and sent into unsafe working conditions. While their overall value is debatable now, worker’s unions are still needed to ensure safe working environments (as is necessary in a mining or construction business). Title IX is needed to ensure woman’s sports can have the resources they need to provide a positive experience to their participants. And with the advent of conference networks, all non-revenue sports aren’t going to lose the money they did ten years ago.

But still, society’s evolve. Given how much it takes to field a competitive team, let’s not saddle athletic departments with teams that the girls don’t want anyway. There’s no shame in admitting that boys want to play sports more than girls.

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