Sunday, July 25, 2010

College Athletics, Title IX, and Gender

Posted by Chris at 5/17/2007 10:27 AM...

Back on May 2nd, Frank Deford bemoaned the impact of Title IX and the changing demographics of American universities on male college athletics and opportunities for teenaged boys to go to college. The issue is that Title IX requires equal spending on male and female athletics programs based on the gender demographics oif schools, and that as the gender balance shifts toward women, and away from young men, more money has to be allocated for women's programs. This means more opportunities for women's athletics in a large number of sports from basketball, gymnastics, fencing, and lacrosse, to badmitton, hockey, curling, and shooting. This is great both for women and collegiate athletics, as diversity of sport is more inclusive and adds flavor to our campuses.

The downside is that men's athletics gets a proportionately smaller piece of the pie, and since football and basketball take up so much of the budget, more of the esoteric, smaller sports (soccer, fencing, lacrosse, water polo, tennis, golf, etc...) get cut in order to fully fund the presumably money-making programs (not that they make enough money to support themselves, but that they draw alumni donations to schools). According to Deford, this has the further impact of reducing college opportunities for boys, most of whom focus on sports as youths instead of academics. The lack of focus on academics means that these boys don't have the grades or preparation for college.

Deford's solution to the problem is straightfoward - take football out of Title IX and refund other men's atheltics with the proceeds.

Notice what gets skipped over? Any attempt to address the causes of teenage boys lack of academic focus is swept by the wayside, ignoring that what we need is educated young people who can not only make our society a better place, but help the United States compete economically in the global environment. What Deford wants is to get boys into college on athletic scholarships where they can continue to focus on sport, rather than academics, continuing their lack of preparation to compete in the real world for another four or five years.

Despite the benefits of participation in athletics (discipline, teamwork, leadership), I fail to see how this helps us, or the boys it would benefit. Yes, they go to college, and hopefully graduate, but at what cost? Do they get the full benefit of their studies?

If the problem is that young men are not going to college, why not address the core problem, not paper over it with relaxing Title IX? What about more academic scholarships, or emphasizing the "cool" or "patriotic" factors of academics, as was done with the Space Race of the 1960's? Surely, there is some other way to get young men to focus more on the fruits of studying, and less on the mostly vaporous fruits of competitive sports?

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