Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 20, 2010 5:07PM

New Title IX Rules a Win for Women's Athletics

Rate: 7 Flag

Today, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Obama administration would issue a letter withdrawing the Bush administration's controversial 2005 interpretation of Title IX. Title IX is that old, famous policy that makes it illegal for schools receiving federal funding to discriminate "under any program or activity" based on sex. Though it doesn't mention athletics, it has become synonymous with the need to equalize opportunity between male and female college athletes.

There have always been three ways to comply with Title IX. First, a school can show that it has a representative number of athletes of both sexes involved in athletics: if 50 percent of your students are female, 50 percent of your athletes must be, too, to qualify under this prong.

If members of one sex are underrepresented -- generally, this is women -- then the school can show that it has "a history and continuing practice of program expansion" that is actually increasing the interests and skills of the underrepresented group.

It's the third prong of the test that's causing the controversy. Schools can also comply with Title IX by showing that they're meeting the desires and skills of the underrepresented sex "fully and effectively."

The Bush administration in 2005 issued a clarification to that third prong, saying that schools could use online surveys of their college population or just the underrepresented group to determine whether skills and interest in a given sport existed. Based on those results, they could then choose not to fund a new or existing sport and still be in compliance with Title IX.

That's controversial for a number of reasons. One of the big flaws of this method was that non-response was interpreted as no interest. Anyone who's been in college recently knows that the flood of administrative e-mails students receive often go ignored. Should that translate into the abolition of female sports teams? Beyond that, should it mean that the desires of the current student body should dictate the availability of athletic opportunities for incoming female students?

Also, how effective was it to survey student interest in a sport when many students had been denied access to that sport? The point of IX is that inequality exists and must be treated in order to provide the opportunity to discover interests and skills.

Basically, the online survey was an easy way to kill expensive Title IX equalizing opportunities. The Obama administration's new policy fixes this problem, by rolling the law back to its pre-2005 form. In a press release announcing the change today, Biden said, "What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics, and allow women to realize their potential - so this nation can realize its potential."

Joe should know. Not only does his wife teach at the college level, but he was, as he pointed out at today's speech, "there when Title IX got passed. I came the year after it got passed. My, oh lord."

Nice work, Joe. And not a bad day for you, either, Mr. President.

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A fascinating development. Thanks for the update, Saturn.
I've never heard of mens studies or a mens center. It's just another law thats only applied one way. Like hate crimes.
Yes, see, the problem with that argument is the assumption that neutral naming implies a neutral department or division.
Hi! Thanks for the story. Mr. Buckley and Saturn, please read my blog "How Title IX Helped Me". It's very important for society and for the future of this country that young women have self-confidence and opportunities both academically and athletically.
Especially in this day and age where both men and women are underactive and obsese. We need to encourage all ages to participate in activities that are self-confidence boosters. But, women often not encourage. That's the difference.
Check out the story about this

I have a middle school daughter who had the opportunity this year to be on the schools wrestling team. Was she the best wrestler? Nah. Did she lead the teamt to victory? Nope. Did she learn about wrestling, how it's done, what skills are needed to pin someone down, how it feels to be part of a team, how to root for your team mates when you haven't yet had your chance to shine? Yes, she certainly did.
Was she beaming for days when she finally had a match - she didn't win it, but she fought the good fight - and still talks about how her team mates were chanting her name as she walked off the mat? You bet.

So yeah, lets see what other wonderful things my girls, and all girls, can learn from sports.

Thanks Biden and Obama!
Thanks for the update, well written too! Rated.
No question that a Title IX is needed but it is a shame that such a law would have to go further than just saying that equality opportunity, funding, access, participation should be equally extended to both sexes.

There should not have to be other than very simple conformance rules. Each school should have an EO program. Rules often make conformance subjective like IRS laws have loopholes.

Since, educators and coaches are not uniformly fair, I guess it is pragmatic to spell it out.

When Title IX became law, San Jose, State U. had to dissolve the men's tennis team. I know it made room for the girls, but it was still very sad.

Read Harv: http://theHARVview.blogspot.com
The positive results of Title IX are easy to see, decades later. Equality can not be underestimated. Thanks for this--important post.
What a great victory! I'm sure everyone at these schools will be incredibly pleased to find their revenue dollars shrink. The real solution is to make men's sports be funded by dollars that men's sports create and women's sports by dollars women's sports create. Any fairness takers there ladies??? I think not.
Can it be possible that women are simply not as interested in sports? Why must we insist on a 50/50 ratio? I sat through many of our local school concerts and noticed that the ration of boys to girls in chorus and glee club was 1/10 at best! Are we to demand that schools make chorus more appealing to boys, and it not, limit the numbers of that as well?
It has nothing to do with naming. It has to do with studies and offices set up for one sex with not equivalent. And trying to get more women into sports is like a recruiting effort to recruit male nurses. Then making sure they get jobs in the name of parity. Less women go in for sports. Sports are a money maker for schools. THe reason they give out scholarships. Rutgers has never had a good football team, yet they pack stadiums. So yes, they will throw money at football because it puts asses in seats.

My point is all these programs are only applied one way. Lets assume mens studies is ridiculous. But a mens center? Is there any reason colleges cant have one to address their needs as well? How is that not dicrimination?

We have school systems spending 20 years worrying about womens problems while boys have more disciplanary, drug and suicide problems. And telling them they are oppressors and should feel guilty is not going to make those suicide numbers drop any.
Saturn, As a person who writes about women who play baseball throughout the country, I find this announcement to be very good news. For all the years I've been researching for my book on women's baseball, I've heard stories about women's teams receiving old equipment from the men's teams. I've experienced personally the inequity of fields (baseball and softball). And I've overheard people talking about how Title IX has affected their "poor" football teams in universities. Joe is right: women should be able to achieve their full potential. Thanks for the clear explanation of the "Dear Colleague" letter.
I think the point about men's health is very important too. But! I think that the women in their life's should have the equal access to self-confidence boosters. It may help the men too. Not only that, but the law actually requires equality, not over-emphasis on women's sports.

Furthermore, many schools are out of compliance with Title IX. I've worked for the government. They have no teeth. But at least it's still getting schools pointed in that direction.

Finally, let's remember. We're not talking about professional sports. We're talking about educational institutions that are supposed to provide learning experiences for both genders.
There may be little interest in attending games now, costing the universities some money. However, as more and more women get involved in sports, more lady graduates will be more likely to attend women's sporting events. It takes time.
Just curious, "Martha," Feral, and Citizen Justice, how long have you been out of school? I've been watching high school girls' basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming, track, and softball for years. The teams are heavily enrolled (yes, they even have tryouts, just like the boys) and their games well - attended.

And you're saying that girls aren't interested in sports? On this planet? Please, 'splain.
Well JP, I'm a current student, so maybe, JUST maybe, I might have an accurate representation of the facts. Yes, I do realize that the biggest reasons my school is even able to pay for anything is purely through the vast revenue they receive on ticket sales for girl's basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming, track, and softball. My school just can't seem to look past that economic reality and instead focuses on simply on men's sports regardless. If the girl's are so self-sufficient, they should have no problems at all accepting my proposal and funding themselves on what revenue they can scrap together with their highly attended events and can stop having their butts wiped by instead living off of the dollar produced by their apparently superior male counterparts.
We could always just eliminate the gender aspect of all sports and individuals have to just try out for the basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming, track, softball teams and compete head-to-head. That would be fair in every way and then women would have absolutely nothing, although women would have next-to-nothing by having to actually survive off of their own dollar too. I guess REAL equality and fairness isn't what they stand for though, is it? Maybe it's just being afraid of the reality that they are no where close to actually being equal, yet still want their handout and to be treated as if they are.
Great news!! Our girls lacross team just won the NCAA!! We're going to use all the revenue to fix 3 potholes in the library parking lot!! Well actually it's only enough revenue to fix 2, but we'll cry foul and demand football pays for the rest, and pays for building us a new stadium, uniforms, travel arrangements, girl's study lounge and anything else we can think of!!
Maybe we should schedule a match between Serena Williams and former Wimbledon champ Stan Smith to really showcase how male talent is superior!!
CJ, I think if you're looking at athletics' revenue as a major source of funding at most schools, you'll find it's not directly related to school maintenance budgets. Many places establish their athletic divisions as separate entities, sheltered from the university budgets and made to be self-sustaining corporations; the pothole example would be nearly impossible to defend, beyond which -- I disagree with the premise that the only benefits of athletics programs is their ability to generate revenue. That's a very controversial stance. Does your school really operate that way?
What I'm saying is it's unlikley you are going to get colleges to throw money at lacross players like basketball and football. Anything televised and watched packs stadiums and courts, and gets ad revenues. So they will go out of there way to promise players more if they attend their school. In general though sports are good, especially with so many obese kids sitting around playing video games all day. Over the years I played baseball, football, soccer and track. I don't know how kids are even getting fat with daily gym class and the metabolism of a chipmunk. What the hell are they eating to get morbidly obese by 10?
The issue is that people who cry foul with Title IX want to live off the dollar of the male sports, period. Men's football and basketball are huge revenue and profit generators for the schools, girl's sports are loss generators across the board, so male sports must suffer because we MUST offer just as many opportunities for girls even though these revenue dollars apparently don't translate one bit into anything academic according to you, Saturn. The programs are self-sufficient and self-funded according to you, which means they aren't depending on a tax dollar to fund them which only makes the case even stronger not forcing schools to support girl's sports as heavily as men's even though there is no where near the same level of interest whether you consider athletes or fans across the board. Just another clear cut case of reverse discrimination. Thank goodness nothing good comes to any of these major universities that have incredibly successful male sports programs. All the money goes to nothing whatsoever that benefits the school as a whole. What's really holding America back is the lack of focus on girl's softball!!
The only reason you have ANY opportunities is because of those created for you by the men. I can't wait until the gender barriers are eliminated and women have to truly compete head to head and be shown that we really are unequal and there's actually nothing wrong with that! Although a woman doesn't really want to compete on an equal field, she only wants to compete when she's first given her advantage.
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