Why Title IX Has Been Good for Women and Sports

We recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX. I know while reading those words some people just cringed. If you cringed at just reading the title, then I suggest you stop reading now because I am a proponent so you most likely will spend the rest of the article cringing and your face could become permanently stuck.

Title IX states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance ...”

Simply reading the wording, it is hard to find an inherent flaw in this provision. Boiling it down this says you can’t be discriminated due to your gender. The language of the law isn’t the problem it’s when we start applying this to life or death things … like sports.

This is where we run into some issues with the application of Title IX, and not actually Title IX. For instance, let’s look at the South Eastern Conference; after the induction of Title IX, wrestling programs around the region began to disappear. However, I argue this was a choice made by the universities not an obligation imposed by the title. This is the first myth I would like to battle, that title nine kills men’s sports. The wording says that budget/spending on men and women’s sports must be equitable (not equal, football pads are going to cost more than a volleyball uniform). So instead of cutting some of the bloated football or men’s basketball budget to save money the schools cut smaller programs like wrestling and gymnastics. This is not inherently a wrong decision but it is not a consequence of Title IX, it is a consequence of the big athletic mindset or football supremacy.

Following this up, I know the argument will jump to this line, “well don’t football and basketball programs fund the entire athletic program?” Well, that may be true if they didn’t spend so much more on somewhat questionable things like hotels for home games, or new Nike jerseys every few weeks, or flying on charted jets rather than commercial. I am not talking about not buying the nicest or safest equipment, I am merely talking about the fluff and extravagance that many teams indulge. The University of Texas allocated $120,000 to install mahogany in the coach’s office while it insisted there wasn’t a budget to add more sport opportunities for women. Or how about the University of Oregon’s two-story locker room/pent house that has three 60-inch plasma TVs, xboxes and the very necessary “squint-no-more” lightning system that matches the lighting conditions in the locker room to the conditions outdoors (didn’t even know that this was an issue/people would spend money on this system … sunglasses?) which only cost a cool $3.2 million. 

If we simply focused on how Title IX was interpreted and maybe made some dollar-saving decisions rather than blame the provision, then we could address the main issues. Besides Nike’s aggressively neon uniforms aren’t that good looking anyway.