As the name of this blog may have given away, I’m a woman. And as I’ve detailed on the “About Coach Dawn” page at the top right there, I’ve played and coached sports for the majority of my life…it’s a huge part of how I identify myself. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has heard of a men’s sport being cut (usually it’s volleyball or wrestling or gymnastics) and felt my heart breaking for those student-athletes who’d devoted their time and energy toward getting better at their sport. That feeling is usually quickly followed by frustration as the reason given for cutting the male sport is Title IX. As Charlie Brown often said, “aaargh”!! Cutting a men’s sport is a decision made by the administration and not something that is forced upon them by the government so that women can play. Title IX is an easy scapegoat, so let’s discuss three commons myths about Title IX and uncover the truth that lies beneath.
The 3 myths people hold about supporters of Title IX
- You must be man-hating and un-American. Back in the day, a perfect day for an all-American guy would involve baseball, football, and apple pie…the only place a woman would fit into that old school story would be making the pie! I’d say things have changed a bit since then and hopefully most folks understand that women are not only interested in sports, but very capable of competing at a high level. Those of us who recognize the benefits of this amendment don’t hate men and we don’t want to take opportunities to compete away from men…we just want those same opportunities to be extended to women.
- Women’s teams are taking money from the men. Actually, since the institutions fund athletics, both men’s and women’s, the athletic director and president decide how those funds should be allocated. In a 2005-2006 study by Dr. Christine Grant, she found that FBS schools (those schools that opt in for football bowl games) spend about 78% of the money allocated for men’s sports on football and basketball…it was 43% in that same study for Division III. Given the disparity in those numbers, it seems pretty clear that it’s a decision problem and not a lack-of-enough-for-men’s-and-women’s-sports problem.
- Things are equitable now. The short answer is they’re not. The long answer is that athletics has come a long way since 1972 when Title IX was passed. In terms of equipment, training facilities, medical treatment, academic support services (and lots more!)…today’s female athletes are enjoying the fruit of a whole lot of labor. Where we can stand to even out a bit? Female sport participation rates, scholarship allotments, and operational budgets in Division I are still well behind our male counterparts.
Hopefully I’ve shed a little light on Title IX and hopefully you’ll make sure that the female athletes that you coach understand this. I can’t imagine there’s a much more powerless position than to feel like your existence is based upon taking things away from someone else. Title IX is about giving opportunities…not taking. Make sure your ladies know that.