A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, June 23, 2006

Title IX turns 34 today

Last week I posted about Missouri's high school activities association withdrawing support for competitive cheerleading, and there was quite a good discussion about how skillful cheerleaders today are, as well as some observations about the way that young ladies are still struggling for equity in high school and collegiate sports.

So it seems an interesting convergence of coincidences that today is the 34th anniversary of Title IX. Most people, when hearing that phrase, immediately think about school sports teams. Maybe they go a little deeper and think of people like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Brandy Chastain, whose skills playing world-class soccer would not be possible without Title IX. Maybe they think about the stars of the WNBA like Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, or Sheryl Swoopes. Other people may think of Title IX and blame it for the demise of male sports such as wrestling or men's gymnastics at some schools as institutions tried to expand opportunities for women without spending more money-- not exactly a fair indictment: it's kind of like blaming cars for the need for roads.

But Title IX is about much more than sports. The law prohibited sex discrimination in not just athletic opportunities but also in admissions, courses, financial aid, and educational counseling, among other things, for students in American public schools. As some of my commenters to the cheerleading story pointed out, there is still a long way to go in ensuring equal opportunities in schools.

So what do you think about Title IX? The floor is open for polite discussion.


At 6/23/06, 6:32 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

I wonder, actually, why the very simple ERA amendment was never passed. It's simple, comprehensive and I can't see how anyone could object to it.

At 6/23/06, 9:27 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

There were actually two problems with getting it passed. Some feminists opposed it because it ould make protective laws and policies specifically for women unconstitutional, such as policies about maternity leave which were just being put into place.

And of course, some on the other side, such as Phyllis Schlafly, claimed that it would make women subject to the draft, raised the specter of unisex bathrooms, and predicted that families would disintegrate if women truly had equal opportunity.

The History Geek may have to post on this later...

At 6/24/06, 3:45 AM, Blogger Superdestroyer said...

You will know that women have achieved parity with men in sports when women participate in intramural sports at the same level as men and women attend sporting events at the same level as men.

Also, Mia Hamm is a poor example of the success of Title IX in sports since soccer is one of the sports least affected by Title IX and women's soccer benefits, on the world stage, from the incredible amount of sexism that exist in the rest of the world. Mia Hamm and the rest of the US women did not have to ovecome a long history of soccer playing in other countries like Brazil.

At 6/24/06, 9:24 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned meney.

As long as public shcool systems continue to be deprived of adequate funding, Title IX won't realize its potential. The major sports that generate the most pretige (football, baseball, soccer) will get the majority of the $$, while the ladies get the short end of the stick.

My daughter plays high school softball, and they're relegated to a crappy field with virtually no budget. It stinks.

If we had more money, Title IX would be more effective.

At 6/24/06, 1:34 PM, Blogger 40 said...

It is all about opportunity to me. I think Title IX gives women a chance to compete.

Who is to say that they will not generate money? I know that girl's basketball is very big in some parts of the country. As is field hockey in others. Volleyball is huge at the small college I attended.

But, if women's sports are eliminated they don't have the chance to see any level of success.

At 6/24/06, 9:09 PM, Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Whether you're for Title IX or against it, girls' sports have come a long way, Baby! (Did I just date myself?) When I was in high school we had ten sports for boys, and four for girls, and most of the girls who participated in them were considered weird. The activities for girls were basically the cheerleading squad (6 spots in a school of 1400 students) and the dance line (20 spots). Today in our small school (300 students) has eight sports for girls, plus two cheerleading squads, and seven sports for boys. The times, they are a changin'!

At 6/24/06, 11:05 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I had a discussion with an administrator who told me that, as a high school wrestler, he hated Title IX because his school later cut the wresyling team to make way for women's sports.

Then he became the father of four daughters-- four sports-playing daughters....

It was amazing to see a revolution in his thinking.

At 6/26/06, 8:06 AM, Blogger Matt Johnston said...

I think as it was originally intended by Congress and to a certain as originally, Title IX was a genius law, designed to bring about parity. However, as interpreted and applied, it has become something of a bastardized quota system.

Title IX has had some wonderful benefits in that it has affected the way women look not just as sports but also at education as well. The greatest impact of Title IX has been in women's sports, but the law applies in all areas of education spending. Today, more women graduate from college, with access to more services than ever before.

But Title IX, like a number of laws based upon achieveing some sort of mathematical parity (affirmative action anyone?) is subject to a zero-sum analysis, thus in order to have women's gymnastics, we have to give up men's wrestling. Such an analysis means that some people will love the law and some will hate it, depending on which side of that equation you fall.

Title IX was an important step, but equality of opportunity, which the law is supposed to promote, does not necessarily mean equality of resources.

At 6/26/06, 5:58 PM, Blogger Superdestroyer said...


The other problem with Title IX and interpreted at the college level by the Clinton Administration is that it did not take into consideration walk-ons (higher interest from males than females).

Any college in the US could field a competitive wrestling team using walk-ons. However, under Title IX, having a mens teams of walk-on creates the need to off-set the male athletes with scholarhsip female athletes. Why? Because women will not walk on to a team unless it is competitive cheerleading.

Look at the University's trying to establish women's crew teams using walk-on (Arizona State University is the example everyone uses).

Women will achieve parity non through a quota but when women buy tickets to watch women's sports in the same numbers that men do.

At 6/27/06, 10:15 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Thank you everyone for the comments thus far.

Fred and Matt, unfortunately, it's about money. The problem I see is that the expansion of oppotunities for women got blamed for the cutting of some men's sports which are usually not revenue -producers in the way that football and basketball are.

And superdestroyer, I am sorry, but I don't understand your statement about women's soccer. Could you explain that, please?

A sport's value should not simply be in how many (or what kind of) fans it draws. But that is often the driving factor in ending wrestling or baseball programs, at least at the collegiate level.

The problem was, at the time of Title IX ( and as the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported, even relatively recently) that many schools claimed they didn't have girls' teams because the girls weren't interested. But when girls showed interest, they were told that there weren't any teams, or there wasn't enough budget, or there weren't any practice facilities, or so on. Nice and circular.

And unfortunately, I think that led to the "quota" system.

But will people watch women's athletic contests? Dennis, 40, and I have seen it.

Let's be realistic-- if you follow tennis, you know that for many years the women's game was (some would say still is) far more exciting than the men's. And yet the women still do not receive prize money parity at Wimbledon.

So the discussion goes on....

At 6/27/06, 12:01 PM, Blogger Superdestroyer said...

Ms. Cornelius,

Girls, in the US, start playing soccer in the US long before they are affected by Title IX. Title IX had little to do with the affluent white suburbs beginning to play soccer. Thus, Mia Hamm and the rest of the US women's soccer team probably benefited less from Title IX than sports such as Lacrosse and field hockey. Your best argument is that Title IX moved women's basketball from the Delta States, Valdosta States, and Wayland Baptists to the UConns and Tennesse. But I have noticed that most women commentators do not like to talk about women's basketball because it is the women's sport least likely to be played by suburban white girls.

Also, Mai Hamm and the rest of the US soccer teams appear better than they are because they rest of world does not play women's soccer. It was easy for the US to repeatedly win on in women's soccer because the competition is not near as tough as what the US men's team face. Consider than in most of the world, the schools have nothing to do with sports. Men's soccer in the rest of the world is supported by developmental leagues and local club teams.

At 6/27/06, 6:34 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7/26/06, 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been following the cheerleading discussion in Michigan and ran across this site through a goggle search on a related subject. I enjoyed reading the site, and thought I would toss in my understanding of the current dispute.

I suspect the real issue in Missouri is similar to that faced by Michigan (and other states). There are problems in trying to make cheerleading fit within the requirements of the rules that apply to all varsity sports.

From what I can glean, the high school sports governing associations typically all want to make cheerleading a varsity sport as it helps them (and their member schools) achieve Title IX parity. On its face it sounds easy. Cheerleading is a popular activity that already exists in most schools. There are a good number of experienced coaches, and the sport requires little in terms of equipment and specialized space. The problem from the Title IX perspective is that simply saying, "from now on cheerleading is a varisty sport", does not cut it. You can't just say it, you have to mean it. To be a varsity sport cheerleading must have its own competitions and touranments, and it must be bound by the same rules that apply to other varsity sports. Therein lies the rub.

Like most governing high school sports associations, the Michigan version, ("MHSAA"), has a very long standing policy of trying to facilitate and promote having kids participate in several different sports and activities. No one wants the football coach to demand that kids only play football and that they must practice year round. If one school starts down that path others will surely follow. Towards that end, the MHSAA has many many rules that dictate such things as when teams may practice, how much contact a coach may have with their players outside of the approved practice dates, and the like. In theory these rules are all designed to promote fair competition, and protect kids. Other rules at issue in the Michigan cheerleading dispute are: (a) a rule that prohibits boys from participating in the state tournaments for primarily girls sports, (b)a rule that prohibits kids from participating on all-star teams or in national competitions as a representative of a high school team; and (c) a rule that prohibits teams from participating in non-MHSAA approved competitions. All of these rules have some underlying merit, but certainly valid counter-arguments also exist.

When Michigan made cheerleading a varsity sport starting in 1994 it faced a real problem in deciding how competitive cheerleading was actually to be conducted. There were several different possibilities -- competitions based on traditional sideline cheer format, a format that was more similar to what where then pom pom or dance routines -- known as MCCA, or something else entirely. I do not know, but I strong suspect, the MHSAA was concerned that if they went with a sideline cheer format there would be issues in convincing anyone the sport was complying with Title IX if it looked exactly like what was already going on along the football field sidelines (remember this is pre-ESPN cheerleading competitions), and (b) it could easily become a year-round sport because you could not tell if kids were practicing for their traditional cheer routines along the sideline, or for competition. It is my understanding that the MHSAA initially adopted a tweaked version of the MCCA format, and over time has revised it substantially to create a different format that emphasizes team stunts and team coordination. Many folks prefer the other formats, and many prefer what has become known as the MHSAA format.

What the MHSAA did not do in 1994 was strictly enforce all of its varsity sport rules to cheerleading. In particular, it allowed schools to continue to compete against other Michigan schools in the MCCA format until just recently, and a good many schools did do just that and there was both a MCCA championship and a MHSAA championship. The decision to actually enforce the varisity sports rules to cheerleading, in my opinion, was really geared to requiring schools to switch from the MCCA format to the MHSAA format. A few schools in Michigan also competed with coed sideline teams. No specific number is known, but it looks to be less than 10 although it is certainly likely that more schools than that have boy cheerleaders -- they just did not compete.
The school that has primarily spearheaded the current dispute has a desire to continue to compete in coed sideline cheer competitions, and traditionally that has taken its team to out of state and "national" competitions. As best I can tell, the MHSAA's positions are: (a)that competing as a high school team in a national championship is prohibited in any sport, and (b) that competing in an unapproved format (sideline) is not permitted just as high school teams would not be premitted to compete in 8v8 football, or indoor soccer. Kids can participate in sideline cheer, but not compete, or compete, but not as a high school team. And, apparently the determination was made that sideline cheer is sufficient close to the MHSAA format that kids would be subject to the rule that prohibits kids from participating both on a school team and a non-school team, at the same time, in the same sport. In other words, you cannot play travel baseball and high school baseball at the same time -- you have to chose one or the other.
What Michigan has found out, is that the downside to making cheerleading a varsity sport, is that the enforcement of the varsity sports rules to the sport creates problems for which there are no easy answers that will make everyone happy. Everyone obviously wants traditional sideline cheerleading to be able to continue, and they want to have a seperate, competitive cheer division as well. The key seems to be to make the competitive cheer different enough from sideline cheer so that the skills and practices do not overlap to a great extreme. That way sideline cheer can be a non-regulated club (although subject to safety restrictions), and competitive cheer can be a regulated sport.

As for boys participating -- that is a seperate issue. Personally, I think that the arguments against boys participating in the MHSAA format are pretty weak. The format is not one that emphasizes size or physical strength. And, once you allow boys to participate in league competitions there does not seem to be any reason to keep them out of state competitions. From my reading of Title IX cases though, it would appear to me that (a) the MHSAA could prohibit boys from participating at all as they are not protected by Title IX (boys being over represented in varsity sports in Michigan); and (b) equal protection laws do not apply as equal protection arguments are not permitted to undermine the specific provisions of Title IX.

At 9/14/07, 11:43 AM, Blogger Aaron Matthews said...

I know it's late, but I've been thinking about this, and there are a few things that should be pointed out.

First, most men's sports aren't cut for funding, they're cut for quota. Wrestling and track especially are particularly cheap when compared to other sports. (Did you know the most expensive sport per athlete is actually women's basketball according to USA Today? If we're looking to cut costs, that would be the first to go.) Secondly as for funding most schools reap both direct and indirect financial dividends from men's basketball and football. So if the schools spend more money on recruiting, advertising, etc. it's for the benefit of the school, but it counts as a Title IX violation. This would be fine if those sports were able to keep the money they earned for themselves or it was counted as a profit for the men. Instead, Title IX counts the expenses as incurred by the men, but then the profits (tickets, merchandising, increase alum donations to the school) as a shared profit.

Secondly, boys are over represented in pure numbers, but in terms of opportunities, they are vastly underrepresented. As Title IX is implemented now, if there are 1,000 boys trying out for sports and only 600 girls, 400 boys are cut for quota off the bat. Not only that, the girls can play on their own teams OR the boys team. So that means the girls have nearly three times the opportunity to play as the boys do. Feminists are afraid to allow schools an opportunity to allow sports to be based on who wants to play because of this.

As for education, there is more money, more attention, and more effort put into girls' education than boys, but it is deamed acceptable because of prior injustices. At a local school, Lafayette in Ballwin, recently got an opportunity to send 10 students to the Challenger space program. They sent all girls. It was a set of initiatives to get affluent white girls involved in technology. When asked if there were ANY special programs for the boys, especially the inner city boys, in any subject, including English, the principal said there was no need. In case you're wondering, there is more of a gender gap in English than in science, but political Feminists throw a hissy if money is spent on boys even though it is needed more than the money spent on girls in science.

For the first 10 years Title IX was mostly ignored. For the 10 years after that it was balanced, and for the last 15 it has swung the pendulum of special rights to the girls. It needs to be fixed now or the boys being discriminated against will push it back and possible take rights from the girls just as the Feminists took the boys rights away.

At 9/14/07, 11:45 AM, Blogger Aaron Matthews said...

"I wonder, actually, why the very simple ERA amendment was never passed. It's simple, comprehensive and I can't see how anyone could object to it."

It should have back then. The irony now is that many of the political feminists don't like because the boys are using it where it was passed to be treated fairly (See PA sports)

That's why they introduced the WOMEN's Rights Amendment this year. So much for Equal rights


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