Thursday, June 20, 2002
Updated: June 23, 10:23 AM ET
Your thoughts on the Title IX debate
For 30 years a debate has raged over just what is meant by this language in Title IX of the Education Amendments:
"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."
Even today, the debate goes on. Here's a collection of responses from ESPN.com readers:
I will never challenge the purpose of Title IX and agree that it has helped create opportunities for women around the world. What is both unfortunate and appalling is the manner in which our college institutions often achieved compliance with the rule -- by eliminating men's programs.
The purpose of Title IX was to create further opportunities for rising athletes, and although it can be considered a success, it failed our youth in the same approach by eliminating opportunities for men. Faced with the daunting task of budgeting for Title IX, revenue sports such as football and basketball are always salvaged.
But the blood and guts of college athletics lie in the "underling" olympic sports such as swimming and wrestling. These are two sports which are on pace to be extinct at the collegiate level in a few years (according to national statistics), and they truly encompass the world's best athletes.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Title IX is worthless. Some person on the Today Show this morning said that since 55 percent of students are women, 55 percent of sports programs should be for women. That is the most idiotic statement I have heard in a long time over this debate.
The only argument that is not debatable is the fact that men's sports are more popular and generate the most fans. At my school you can attend women's basketball games for free (nobody goes), while you cant get a men's ticket for less then $50 sometimes. There are some great female athletes out there, but put them up against a great male athlete and I think we all know the potential outcome. I am all for women's sports, but not at the expense of another program that generates more money and fans.
It makes me sad we are still debating this after 30 years. I watched the university closest to my heart pay its women's basketball coach less than the men's coach and shove the players into locker rooms and facilities that were inferior to the men, even though the women's team was more successful both on the court and in the classroom. But the men's team brought in more money, so they thought that was OK. It isn't.
Furthermore, one of the arguments for supporting sports programs is that is brings interest to the school and brings in students, which I firmly believe. I also believe a good football team and wrestling team will attract some girls to a school, but there are more women going to college and university today than men, so doesn't it make sense for the schools to support things that interest them too?
Title IX was originally meant to provide equal opportunity for everyone. It has since been twisted into a system of quotas. In the past, the feminists said it didn't require a quota. But it obviously is, so now they try to blame the problems with it on football. In my opinion, Title IX is a good idea, poorly enforced. We need to get rid of the 1996 interpretation. Without it, women (and men) still will be protected by it, but schools won't necessarily have to cut men's teams to comply.
College Park, Md.
Title IX gives scholarships to womens sports that nobody watches. Schools are penalized for having football programs. To offset the number of male scholarships from football, players on women's teams are given scholarships while men playing the same sport (tennis, lacrosse, golf and track) or some version of the sport (softball/baseball) have few scholarships available. Title IX is also killing less popular male sports like wrestling, because there is no female version. I think women's sports are great but not at the expense of men's sports. Title IX needs to be updated to allow men in sports other then football and basketball a chance at a scholarship.
The problem with Title IX is not its intent; it is with its interpretation. For example: if a school with a 54 percent female student body has football, baseball, basketball, wrestling, swimming, track and field, golf and tennis for men, and the equivenlent women's sports in all but football and wrestling, there is no way in can have the same perecentage of women's scholarships as men unless it has much larger women's rosters or it cuts football or a combination of other sports.
Title IX should simply mean that if there is a men's sport offered at a school that has a comparable women's sport, then the women's sport should be offerred with the same number of scholarships and funding as the men's. That would solve a lot of problems.
I think Title IX has its merits, but I also think it's time for both sides to find a compromise that will help keep sports from being eliminated in order to achieve balance.
When the two largest universities in the U.S. have to go opposite directions to achieve balance, something is wrong. Ohio State chose to add more women's sports to bring them into compliance, while UCLA cut sports like mens gymnastics. There has to be a better way than sacrificing one group's dreams to bring about the fulfillment of another's.
Title IX is ridiculous. Its goal is for female/male athletic ratios to be fairly even to the enrollment ratios. The problem is, women are not raised to be athletic. Girls who play sports early are considered tomboys and are generally steered toward dolls and playing house. Because of this, there just aren't as many female athletes, and that is screwing men who play lower tier sports out of the opportunity to play.
It's good in theory, but screwing men out of scholarships and field time is not the way to raise female percentages. Get some more girls to play, start more club teams or whatever. But stop hurting guys for something that is not their fault.
I don't know much about the legality of Title IX, but I do believe there should be an equilibrium somewhere. However, I believe much of the debate could be settled if athletics directors knew how to handle the budget of their sports programs. It's ironic that we are discussing the equality of athletes when my guess would be that 99 percent of the franchise owners and athletics directors are male.
Of course women recieve less scolarship money, they bring in significantly less revenue. In our world there are so many things competing for our money, that if the women's (or men's) sports can't compete financially, they should be cut.
I feel Title IX needs to be redefined. This is a 30-year-old statute, and the perception of womens sports has changed a lot in that time (Womens World Cup, WNBA, etc.). I've seen the good of Title IX in the saving of Oklahoma University's womens basketball program. But as a former wrestler, I've also seen the decimation of my sport and other men's sports. Why not add in an amendment protecting sports such as wrestling and gymnastics from being cut to make room in budgets, when we know the students are there for an education and not prepping for the pros?
Cedar Falls, Iowa
I honestly think that Title IX in its inception, is a very good thing. Women deserve every opportunity to explore avenues that were not open to them in the past. However, when do the victims of programs that are cut get their opportunity?
I love the fact that girls want to play sports. I think there should be avenues created for women to be able to excel in sports. I don't however believe the way to accomplish this is to take away from men. Give women more scholarships, don't take away from men to do it.
The problem is this: Most major college sports programs (or any college for that matter) are supported by their football program. That should count for something. The playing field will never be "level", nor should it be, if the way proposed to "level" the field involves taking away from one to give to another.
Why is Title IX bad? Plain and simple, men are far more involved than sports than women are. Women's involvement in sports has grown a lot, but it's not to the level of men now, and it never will be. Generally speaking men like sports more than women. That alone makes it simply impossible to expect colleges to have the same number of female athletes as men.
The next problem is that there are fewer sports that women play on the college level than men, such as football. Football rosters require a lot of players, which throws the quota out of whack. Women should have fair oppurtunity to play sports, but to expect colleges to have the same number of scholarships given to women as men is insane.
Title IX when first ratified in 1972 was very much needed in this country. Now Title IX has gone beyond what it was originally intended to do. It was not meant to hurt men's sports at all. Title IX needs to be changed so it still gives women the right to have teams and play sports but doesn't penalize a school for having a strong men's sports program. UCLA doesn't have swimming, Marquette doesn't have wrestling and the University of Wisconsin doesn't have baseball -- all thanks to Title IX. This is unacceptable.
As the father of a 9-year-old girl, I am constantly telling her how lucky she is to be an athlete at this point in time. Every day she experiences opportunities her own mother never would have thought possible -- from age-group team competition to girls-only sports camps to dreams of a WNBA or WUSA professional career.
It's time that Title IX is recognized as doing more to level the playing field -- and shatter the glass ceiling -- for women than the Equal Rights Amendment ever could have hoped to accomplish. Being accepted on the basketball courts and golf courses is the first step toward being accepted in the board rooms.