The Title IX activist campaign against men’s sports | FACTUAL FEMINIST


This week is the 42nd anniversary of the famous
equity law Title IX. Stay tuned for the story of what happens when bad things happen to
good laws. Coming up next on the Factual Feminist. Title IX was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. In 37 momentous words, it outlawed gender discrimination in all publicly
supported educational programs. Before its passage, many of the nation’s leading universities
didn’t accept women, and law schools and medical schools they often used quotas to limit female
enrollment. As for sports, female student athletes were rare—and received precious
little support from college athletic programs. The logic behind Title IX is the same as that
behind all great civil rights legislation: in our democracy, the government may not play
favorites among races or religions or between the sexes. We are all equal before the law–including
in public colleges and universities. Today there are many formidable female athletes,
and the progress of women’s sports should be celebrated. But something went wrong in
the law’s implementation. Because of pressure from women’s groups like the National Women’s
Law Center and the Women’s Sports Foundation, Title IX evolved into a rigid quota regime
that dictates equal participation in sports by both sexes—regardless of interest. Now
women’s groups will deny that Title IX now requires quotas. But it does. Schools are
cutting back on male teams and creating new women’s teams, not because of demand, but
because they are afraid of a federal investigations. The goal in college athletics is called
“proportional representation.” What that means is that if a school has 60 percent female,
then it should have 60 percent female athletes. Look what happened at Howard University in
Washington, DC. Howard’s student body is 67 percent female, but women are only 44 percent of its athletes. In 2007, the Women’s Sports Foundation, a powerful Title IX advocacy
group, gave Howard the grade “F” because of this 23 percent “proportionality gap.” Howard
has already at that time had cut men’s wrestling and baseball and added women’s bowling, but
that just didn’t narrow the gap. Unless it cuts almost half of its current male athletes,
it’s gonna remain under a Title IX cloud and legally vulnerable. Howard’s wrestling coach
Wade Hughes summed up the problem this way: “The impact of Title IX’s proportionality
standard has been disastrous because . . . far more males than females are seeking to take
part in athletics.” No, say the Title IX activists: women are every bit as committed to sports
as men. And they have persuaded courts that if there are fewer women than men on college
varsity teams—the only explanation is discrimination. The factual feminist is concerned because
the evidence that women, taken as a group, are less interested in competitive sports
than men is overwhelming. To give just one example, in 2012, a group of psychologists
carefully analyzed men and women’s propensity for competitive sports by studying for example,
who plays intramural sports? These are recreational games that college students can play just
for the love of the game. Their finding: only one in four (26 %) of intramural participants
are women. They also studied recreational activity in
41 public parks in 4 different states. Lots of women were exercising, but among those
playing competitive team sports, only 10 percent were women. I am aware of no serious research
that finds similar levels of interest between men and women in competitive sports. Let’s
be honest, there is a fallacy in the “proportionality” requirement. Title IX was meant to be an equal
opportunity law, not a rigid quota system. It was meant to open doors for aspiring female
athletes. But because of relentless pressure from activists groups, it ended up slamming
doors to keep men out. Athletic directors have to move heaven and earth to get enough
women on their teams. Meanwhile, Title IX quotas have all but decimated men’s wrestling,
swimming, diving, and gymnastic teams. Now, these sports and others are going extinct
across the college campus, for men. As one wrestling official put it, “Our sport survived
the fall of Rome, only to be conquered by Title IX.” I’m going to end by asking a direct
question to the Women’s Sports Foundation. Your group gave Howard University an F because
its sports profile does not match its enrollments. There are 33% men, 67% women at Howard, yet
women are only 44 percent women of its teams. Nationally, women earn 58 percent of BA degrees.
Why doesn’t the diminishing number of men on the college create a Title IX concern?
The Factual Feminist gives the Women’s Sports Foundation an F for basic fairness and common
sense. Let me know what you think about the current state of Title IX. I am especially
interested in suggestions on how to restore it to its original democratic goals. If you
found this video worthwhile, please subscribe to the series, and follow me on Twitter. And
remember, check your facts not your privilege.

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