Sports is a powerful influence in
today’s society. People of all ages,
both male and female watch and participate in various different sports, with participation
numbers increasing continually. It would seem typical and fair that participation
in any sport one would choose, without the fear of being discriminated based on
gender, would be acceptable and encouraged. However, it took until 1972 for
Congress to pass the Education Amendments of 1972, which included Title IX. Title
IX was created in an attempt to eliminate discrimination against women at any
institution or organization that receives funds from the Federal government. Since
its introduction in 1972, Title IX has increased the opportunities for women to
have the ability to partake in college sports programs while having a minimal
impact on men’s sports programs.
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 educational program or activity receiving Federal financial
assistance.” (Title 20 U.S.C.).
This law requires that all
activities colleges and universities offer, must be offered without regard to
the gender of the potential participant. It is fair to suggest that sport have
long been dominated by men. Historically men have had a higher interest in
sports compared to females and there is plenty of data of to support this.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), during the 2014 Winter
Olympic Games, 59.7% of the participants were male compared to the 40.3% of
females. The International Olympic Committee Executive Board is made up of
73.3% of males and 26.7% of females. The International Federation Executive
Board is made up of staggering 86% of male’s members and only 14% women. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics,
National Health Interview Study reports that 48.4% of 18-24-year-old males
engage in the recommended amounts of physical activity compared to 36.8% of females
(CDC/NCHS, National Health Interview Survey). The overall data, for all ages
combined states that 35.7% of males and 30.4% of engage in the recommended amounts.
Since 1972 the number of female athletes at NCAA schools has increased from less
than 30,000 to over 193,000, however women still have over 60,000 fewer
participation opportunities than their male counterparts. Despite the meteoric
raise in participation and opportunities for females, there is still some way
to go before there is true equality. (Student-Athlete
Participation – 1981-82 — 2010-11 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation
In order to test for equality and
be able to enforce Title IX, there was three tests created in a bid to measure compliance.
The three tests are:
Ensuring that opportunities for men and women are substantially
proportionate to enrollment by gender.
Offering sports that fully and effectively satisfies the interests and
abilities of female students.
Showing a history and continuing practice of expanding the sports
programs for women.
It is not mandated that schools meet
all three tests, however according to the Education Department, they must meet
at least one of the three. These three tests are absolute key to the success of
Title IX and are what complaints and lawsuits are judged on.
The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta,
Georgia, give an insight to the influence Title IX has had on women’s
sports. The United States won a total of
forty-four gold medals, nineteen of which were won by female athletes. Female Olympic
Athletes such as Amy Van Dyken (Born 1972, swimmer, total of 20 Olympic medals),
Lisa Leslie (Born 1972, Basketball, total of 8 Olympic medals), and legendary
US Women’s soccer National Team player Mia Hamm (Born 1972, soccer, total of 7
Olympic medals, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion) have all directly benefited
from Title IX. The opportunities that would have been available for them to get
involved in their chosen sport was much greater than if they were born a generation
earlier. This suggests that thanks to Title IX, they were given the chance to
continue to develop their talents which helped mold them into incredible athletes.
The success of Title IX can also be
measured by the increased number of sports programs available for female
athletes across the country. According to data from the National Federation of
State High School Associations, between 1972 and 2011, the number of girls
competing in high school sports increased from under 295,000 to nearly 3.2
million (NFSH Participation Statistics). And it is not only at the high school
level more females are participating in sports. According to NCAA Sports
Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report, Student-Athlete Participation –
1981-82 — 2010-11, the number of female athletes at NCAA schools has increased
from less than 30,000 to over 193,000 since 1972 (Student-Athlete Participation
– 1981-82 — 2010-11 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report)
Despite the increase in female participation,
there is still plenty of critics of Title IX. Their argument is that the law is
fundamentally unfair and is detrimental to men’s sports. The basis of this complaint is connected to
the first test of compliance with Title IX – “ensuring that opportunities
for men and women are substantially proportionate to enrollment by gender” (Department
of Education). However, the critics ask the question if it is fair to determine
the number of athletic opportunities by enrollment of each gender. Does this
mean that men and women have the same interest and desire to participate in
sports at the Collegiate level? Many
critics say no and according to current statistics they are right. Current statistics show that 1 in 2 males in
high school participate in organized athletics compared to 1 in 3 females.
These statistics suggest that a
higher percentage of males have a desire to play sports compared to females.
In 1995 a landmark case involving
Title IX at Brown University in Rhode Island, found that the schools were not in
compliance with the proportionality test (Cohen v. Brown University, 879 F.
Supp. 185 (D.R.I. 1995).) Brown
University had an equal number of athletic programs for women as they had men,
but there were more male athletes.
Judge Raymond S. Pettine of United
States District Court in Providence, R.I.,ruled in favor of women athletes due
to the fact there were more male athletes than female athletes. Brown University argued that “men and
women have different levels of athletic interest, so schools cannot hope to
have as many female athletes as males.” They were joined by several
national educational groups in filing briefs against the ruling. “‘Judge Pettine’s ruling, if it stands,
would force Brown to limit the number of opportunities for male athletes to
compete because existing opportunities for women are going unfilled,’ Brown
executive vice president Robert Reichley said.
‘That’s a quota system; we don’t believe that’s what Congress
intended.'” (The Associated Press).
Judge Pettine gave Brown University three different options to correct
this proportionally problem. He stated, “It may eliminate the athletic
program altogether, it may elevate or create the requisite number of women’s
positions, it may demote or eliminate the requisite number of men’s positions
or it may implement a combination of these remedies.” This ruling has had the impact of requiring
colleges to limit or reduce the number of athletic opportunities for men, and
this is a contributing factor to why Title IX is under fire by critics. This wasn’t
the first time that Brown University has been at the center of a Title IX scandal.
As recent as October 2017, the Title IX lawyer for a college student who was
raped by an American football player from Brown said ‘Your civil rights don’t matter at
Brown,’ (thetab.com) His statement came after a federal court threw out her
case as the victim was not enrolled at Brown but Providence College, therefore
she cannot bring a Title IX case against the Ivy League school.
Proportionality has also led to
discussions of quotas. The Education Department stated that to be in compliance
with Title IX, you only need to meet one of the three tests. In the Brown University case, the court
looked at proportionality as the deciding factor in the ruling, even though
Brown had one of the most equal sports programs in the entire country. This support on proportionality sets a quota
for the number of women athletes required, or for the maximum number of male
athletes permitted for the school in order to be in compliance with the law.
Another issue that the critics of Title
IX raise is the differential in the size of the various athletic programs,
specifically American football. American
football is the largest and the most profitable athletic program in the entire
country, and it happens to be male only sport.
Critics have stated that If football were to be eliminated, every school
would be in compliance with Title IX. American
football programs often have up to 125 active players on the sidelines during games. Compare that with one of the largest women’s
athletic programs, lacrosse, which consists of about 50 athletes. This gulf in program size has led to the
elimination of some men’s programs by colleges seeking to meet proportionality
requirements. The New York Times
reported in 2011 that the University of Delaware changed the stats of its men’s
track and cross country teams to club status in order to satiety Title IX requirements
(Suggs). Many other institutions across the country have cut male programs and
some of the other sports to suffer the same fate are men’s wrestling, swimming
and gymnastics. Critics have asked for American football to be excluded from
Title IX, but proponents of the law claim that if football programs weren’t
wasteful, schools would not have to eliminate men’s programs. In reply, critics of the Title XI highlight
that that the average profit of a division I football program is over $30
million (Department of Education), and helps fund many of the other athletic
programs that allow women to participate in athletics. This dispute is on going and will likely
continue the future.
In the forty-five years since Title
IX was ratified, it has helped countless women to participate in sports. The number of college women’s sports programs
has increased dramatically, as has the percentage of women who participate in
sports while in high school. Women in
sports are getting more recognition than ever before. With that said, the
majority of colleges are still in not in compliance with Title IX. This may be because of money or it may be
because many people believe the method of determining compliance is wrong, but
the fact that women have benefited from Title IX remains undisputed. American football
and basketball will always be staples of college athletic programs because of
the money they generate for the institution.
However, it is the less desirable and profitable men’s sports like
wrestling, golf, and swimming that have suffered. But this suffering is small compared to the
overall state of men’s sports and the dramatic increase in women’s sports. Over the past forty – five years Title IX has
been a massive success by increasing opportunities for female athletes to
compete in college, high school and club athletics.