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Title IX Women vs. Men's Sports
Women's Sports Foundation

From WOMEN'S SPORTS FOUNDATION POSITIONS ON CURRENT TITLE IX ISSUES

ISSUE: The current misinformation campaign against Title IX and efforts to alter the language of Title IX.

Groups who feel that they have suffered from improper enforcement of the law (like Simply Common Sense, the National Coalition for Athletics Equity and the Independent Women's Forum) are spearheading this campaign in order to weaken Title IX and change the language of the law. Title IX is a 27-year-old federal law that bans sex discrimination in federally-funded school programs. Opponents of the law, however, feel that it has eliminated men's non-revenue sports programs in favor of creating more women's sports programs. The Women's Sports Foundation maintains that any effort to weaken the language of Title IX will have an enormous negative impact on the progress that has been made on expanding opportunities for women in sports. Fully 80% of our high schools and colleges are currently still out of compliance with the law and weakening its intent would send the wrong message.

Anti-Title IX groups are dismayed over what they see to be an expansion of opportunities for women and girls in sport at the expense of male opportunities. The groups focus specifically on the "proportionality" component of the law, in which a school compares the ratio of male to female participants in the athletic program with the ratio of full-time male to female students. The proportionality test is only one of three ways in which a school can demonstrate that it is in compliance with Title IX, but has been and is still unfairly targeted as a "quota that eliminates athletic opportunities for men," particularly in non-revenue-producing sports like wrestling and swimming.

Schools are not being forced to eliminate men's non-revenue sports. They are choosing to make these cuts instead of asking all teams to operate on smaller pieces of the financial pie. In fact, schools are spending more money on men's sports than ever. The 1997-1998 NCAA Gender Equity Study revealed that while budgets for women's sports increased an average of $708,000 over the last five years, men's sports' increases were double that figure. In short, schools are choosing to maintain excessively high budgets for one or two men's sports at the expense of minor men's sports.

It is impossible to deny the positive effect of Title IX on women's sports. In 1971, prior to the passage of the law, less than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports nationwide, compared to over 3.6 million male participants in the same year. By 1998, over 2.5 million girls and 3.7 million boys played high school sports. Collegiate sports indicate a similar growth rate, although female student-athletes still comprise only 38 percent of collegiate student-athletes and 40 percent of high school student athletes, even though females represent 52 percent of the general student body.

ISSUE: Failure of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education to fully enforce Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act in all physical education and athletic programs

Access to educational sports programs is an important women's health issue:

80% of all people with osteoporosis (brittle bones) are female and one of every two women over the age of 60 has osteoporosis. These are women who never had the chance to play sports and were never encouraged to play or be physically fit. The combination of adequate calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise is crucial in the prevention of osteoporosis, a $15 billion/year health problem.

Girls who participate in as little as four hours of exercise per week may reduce their lifelong risk of breast cancer (a disease that will affect one out of every eight women) by up to 60%.

Girls and women who participate in sports have higher levels of confidence, stronger self-images and lower levels of depression. Sports is an investment in the psychological health of women.

High school girls who participate in sport are less likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy and more likely to graduate from high school and get better grades.

Legislators and the general public must press the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education to fully enforce Title IX. There are simply too many schools and colleges that are simply ignoring the law.

Facts:

College Female Male
Participation 39% 61%
Athletic Scholarships 37% 63%
Operating Budget 26% 74%
Recruiting Budget 28% 72%
High School Female Male
Participation 40% 60%

-- Women's Sports Foundation Gender Equity Report Card, NCAA Gender Equity Study, National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations, 1997

- Male college athletes are still receiving $143 million dollars per year more than female athletes in athletic scholarships.

- 25 years after the adoption of Title IX, the majority of high schools and colleges are NOT offering equal opportunity athletics programs. Yet, the OCR has never asked the Justice Department to assist in gaining Title IX compliance at the high school or college level or initiated action to withdraw federal funds from institutions not complying.

- Because the Office of Civil Rights is not enforcing the law, parents must go to court to have their daughters treated fairly. Over 50 Title IX cases have been brought to court in the past 8 years, with the plantiffs prevailing in every case. But only well-to-do parents can afford this remedy.

ISSUE: Why it is important to oppose current efforts to provide unnecessary protection for football or men's non-revenue producing sports.

Sport participation provides significant benefits. We should not treat our daughters differently than our sons or maintain that the well-being of our daughters or sons who play in minor sports is not as important as that of our sons who play football.

Football doesn't need any protection. It's a myth that football makes all the money to fund other sports. Football brings in more money than other sports but spends more than it makes.

FACTS:

- No one is advocating that football be eliminated. The number of players on a football team can be maintained and football expenses reduced as long as all schools follow the same rules and expenditure limits. For example, even if football scholarships were reduced from the current maximum of 85 to 50, 50 full scholarships could be spread among 85 players and moneys saved would permit institutions to add two or three women's teams.

- There are those who maintain that "football makes money and should get more support." There cannot be an economic justification for gender discrimination. We can't accept, "We can't afford to treat our daughters as fairly as we treat our sons because we want to spend more on our sons who play football."

- College football doesn't make money. It's a myth! There are approximately 65 universities out of 1,200 in the country that have football teams that pay for themselves. Even in Division IA, the big-time NCAA college football schools, 35% of those schools are running average annual deficits in football alone of $1.1 million a year.

- Everyone's tax dollars support athletics. All those people contributing to booster clubs for football are getting a tax break - a tax deductible contribution. We have to pay more taxes because of those deductions.

- At most schools, football is spending 40-50% of all operating dollars. It can afford to share. If football is excluded from Title IX coverage or given special treatment, it will receive license to continue to spend more than it brings in, further exacerbating inequities in women's sports and resulting in more men's teams being dropped.

There is no validity to the contention that because women don't play football, football should be excluded from Title IX coverage. Title IX doesn't require that men and women have the same sports. Title IX recognizes that men and women have different sports interests. That's why Title IX requires "equal participation opportunities" and not the same sports. If 100 men want to play football, that's fine. If 100 women want to play field hockey, volleyball and sychronized swimming instead, that should be fine too.

FACTS:

- Few men play field hockey in this country, participate in synchronized swimming or play as much volleyball as women. Should we eliminate those sports from Title IX too?

- Approximately 500 high school girls are playing on boys varsity high school football teams this year. Women have never been given the opportunity until recently to play football. Maybe there will be women's football one day!

The purpose of laws prohibiting discrimination is to bring the disadvantaged population up to the level of the advantaged population, not to treat male athletes in minor sports like female athletes who weren't given a chance to play. Boys' and men's sports should not be cut in response to Title IX.

FACT:

- Title IX requires non-gender discriminatory sharing of limited financial resources and there is great flexibility in what an institution can do to comply with the law. The problem is not enough money, it's how we are choosing to spend our money. Schools should not be cutting men's non-revenue producing teams like swimming, wrestling and gymnastics when they are spending money on putting football teams in hotels the night before home football games. College presidents are afraid to tell football coaches to reduce spending, so they are cutting men's teams and blaming gender equity. This is not right.

--- While operating expenses for NCAA women's programs from 1992 to 1996 grew by 89% for women's programs, men's operating expenses grew by 139% over the same period (NCAA Gender Equity Study, April 1997).

Title IX's requirement that an institution should accommodate female students as well as it accommodates male students does not require "quotas." The so-called "proportionality standard" is only one of three independent tests of compliance in the area of participation and the other two are not numerical. Girls deserve the same opportunity to play sports as boys. Requiring girls to prove that they are interested in sports in order to receive the opportunity to play is a double standard. No one asks boys whether they are interested in playing.

FACTS:

>- Research clearly indicates that boys and girls and their parents believe that sports are equally important for boys and girls. Girls simply aren't being given the same encouragement or opportunities to play. High school participation numbers reflect the same discrimination as college programs. Boys receive twice the opportunities to play as girls.

- There will never be enough participation opportunities at the high school or college level to meet the interests of boys or girls. These opportunities are limited by what schools can afford. For example, there are approximately 200,000 men and 128,000 women participating on college varsity teams in the NCAA. These opportunities will never fully accommodate the needs of over 5 million boys and girls participating in high school athletics. The fairest way to parcel out limited resources and participation opportunities is to have athletic opportunities match up to general student enrollment.

Institutions can comply with Title IX without cutting men's sports or damaging football.

FACTS:

- The facts do not support the claim that increasing opportunities for women's sports in the last two decades have lowered the number of men's sports programs. During the period between 1978 and 1996, women gained a net increase of 1,658 sports programs, while men's sports programs netted an increase of 74. Numbers of men's sports teams have remained steady, while women's sports programs have grown. Only NCAA Divisions I-A and I-AA showed a net decrease in the number of men's sports programs during the 18-year period . Divisions I-A and I-AA, the richest athletic programs, netted a total loss of 152 men's sports program, or averaging over 18 years, 8.4 programs lost per year.
-- Women's Sports Foundation Gender Equity Report Card, 1997

- Conferences, leagues and the NCAA have not been willing to legislate expenditure limitations, lower scholarship limits, even require fewer games if that's what it takes to make sure that male non-revenue producing sport participants as well as females get the chance to play.

- This is educational sport, not professional sports. If football or any other sport wants to act as if it is a pro sport, then such sports must go into business outside of our educational system and should not receive the benefits of non-profit status such as tax deductions for boosters. All taxpayers support high school and college sports. Taxpayers have daughters and sons who deserve to be treated equally.

     
 

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