Are We So Over Title IX?

In the wake of the recent court decision that cheerleading is not a sport, pundits on all sides of the spectrum are saying it’s time to bury Title IX and move on.

Not so fast. Watching the World Cup with my daughters a few weeks ago, I got to field plenty of questions. Like, “Why are there no women in this game?” and “Can women play soccer?” and “If the US Women’s soccer team is so great, when can we see them play?”

The fact that my soccer fanatic husband and I both answered that last one with stuttering confusion suggests that women’s sports may not yet be the equal of men’s sports. See also the fact that cheerleading, a difficult, dangerous, competitive sport, still has trouble being recognized as one.

The argument against Title IX is that it somehow harms male athletes, by forcing colleges and universities to put more resources into programs for women. Title IX forces colleges to cater to government regulations over the needs of their students, they say.

I’m fine with that. I want my kids to see more women athletes, and to have more chances to play sports as they grow up. I’m not much of an athlete myself, but it’s important to me that those role models and opportunities exist for them.

An argument for voluntary gender equity in college sports sounds nice on paper, but I don’t see that becoming a reality in my lifetime. As Jezebel puts it:

However, I am just not buying the idea that women’s sports are treated the same as men’s sports – at the college level or the professional level (this report, on gender in televised sports, shows pretty handily that this is not the case). While there may be more chances for women to participate in college, women’s sports in general are not taken nearly as seriously as men’s. They don’t get as much funding, media coverage, or respect. Considering this fact, its hard to believe that most colleges would continue encouraging women’s athletics if Title IX were no longer in play. Men’s sports are more popular – and more profitable.

Someday women’s sports may be viable enough that Title IX will seem as outdated as Boston’s 17th century “blue laws”. But in the meantime, it’s leveling the playing field a bit for college athletes of all genders. That might be “unfair” to some of the sports programs out there now. But it’s great for my little girls.

Photo: battlecreek

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