Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Title IX’s Beneficial Intent Becoming Discriminatory

My beef this week is with the discrimination against males in intercollegiate athletics that Title IX has caused.


No, this isn’t an anti-feminist stand; Title IX has done great, necessary things for women’s sports. The problem is, this success has created inequality – exactly what Title IX is supposed to be getting rid of.




Most people are very familiar with Title IX, but few are familiar with its history. Title IX was enacted on June 23, 1972, and is part of the Education Amendments of 1972. The original law states that, “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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”




There is never any mention of sports in this original statute. Only after the original statute and after the Department of Health, Education and Welfare got involved did intercollegiate sports become affected by Title IX.




A few years after its inception, under the Carter administration in 1979, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare further specified what they would recognize as compliance with the law. This test is made up of three parts (only one of which schools have to follow), and is often referred to as the proportionality test. The test states that schools in compliance must either “have the same proportion of girls in sports as enrolled in school; [be] expanding the opportunities for girls in sports; or [be] satisfying the entire interest of girls to participate in sports.”




Since the last two are vague, to be safe, many schools just follow the first rule of compliance and try to keep the proportion of female athletes equal to the proportion of female students at the school.




The proportionality test seemed like a great idea at the time. The late 1970s and early ’80s saw equal enrollment between males and females, but that didn’t last as women have since outnumbered men. According to the American Council on Education, females have consistently made up around 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since 2000. That means that under the proportionality rule, 57 percent of college athletes should be female.




Doesn’t sound very equal to me.




any critics of Title IX propose that the number of men’s and women’s sports and athletes be based on the interest of each sex to participate in varsity athletics. They argue that interest should be based on participation in specific sports on the club and intramural level, as well as the number of students interested in trying out and the level of interest among high schoolers who hope to participate on collegiate varsity teams. One problem with this is that it would result in more male than female sports teams. In 2009-2010, according to the National Federation of State High Schools, 4,455,740 boys participated in high school athletics as opposed to 3,172,637 girls.




There’s an even bigger discrepancy concerning participation in intramural sports in college where men outnumber women four to one. Although the difference in the number of male and female athletes seems large, it’s a lot smaller than what it has been in decades past, showing that Title IX is doing its job in promoting female participation in athletics. Basing the number of sports teams per gender off of interest would stunt this growth too much for it to be a viable option.




Many proponents of Title IX point to the gargantuan amount of funding that goes to football and men’s basketball teams as the main problem for a lack of funding for small-scale men’s sports, not Title IX.




The first problem with this argument is that the reason most men’s sports are being cut is not because of a lack of funding, but because of the need to comply with Title IX’s proportionality test.




One great example of this is the Marquette University wrestling team. In 2001, the team was dropped despite the fact that it was completely financed by alumni and other program supporters. It wasn’t even competing for funding with a football team, something Marquette still doesn’t have. The only reason was to comply with Title IX.




The majority of men’s teams being cut are usually ones with few if any scholarships, ones funded without the school’s money (or very little of it) and ones that have no big-time football or basketball team to compete with for money.




The second problem with the argument citing high funding for football and men’s basketball as the main problem for the destruction of small-scale men’s sports is that in cutting down funding for these revenue-producing sports, the institution is biting the hand that feeds it and cutting down on the profits that these sports make – profits used to fund small-scale sports. If a school was to cut down funding for popular sports, the talent that these teams would be able to recruit would go down dramatically.




If recruiting plummets, the team falls on hard times and interest among fans drops, resulting in a drop of revenue and profits that the team produces. Since those profits are usually used to help finance other sports, a decrease in them would result in smaller sports getting cut. More funding for football and men’s basketball teams therefore, doesn’t cut down the funding for other men’s sports – it increases it.




The solution to the problem of Title IX is quite simple. Instead of proportionality, colleges should have to have an equal amount of male and female teams and/or athletes. That way everyone gets an equal shot at participating. Another good idea that’s been bounced around is discounting students ages 25 and older in proportionality tests. This age group, which makes up around 40 percent of the undergraduate population, will most likely not be partaking in varsity sports, and therefore shouldn’t be counted in these tests. This would be extremely important, as the American Council of Education’s report “Gender Equity in Higher Education: 2010″ showed that female college students ages 25 and over outnumber male college students of the same age group, two to one. Implementing either or both of the systems would be a great way to reform Title IX.

Title IX has done great things and is still vital to increasing female interest in sports to this day. But advocates of Title IX are as stubborn as ever, unwilling to budge in fear that all of the battles they have won over the years will be for naught if they give in even the slightest bit.




The fact of that matter is though, that reform is necessary, and if Title IX advocates truly believed in equality – as they claim – they’d be open to it.




Alex Lau is a sophomore in the College. WHAT’S FOR DINNER appears every third issue in THE HOYA.”




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