On its anniversary, a Title IX debate

It started this morning when Wendy Parker of Blue Star Basketball stated that we should all be beyond Title IX:

But there’s another side to its legacy that threatens to tarnish the positive effects and cloud the challenges facing a more globalized women’s athletics landscape. Ever since the mid-1990s, when Title IX activists began pushing for proportionality — something they deny, of course — the women’s sports movement has veered away from the noble intent of the law, and away from embracing any reasonable definition of fairness for young athletes of both genders.

I’m not alone in this assertion, and those of us who are critical of what has happened do not oppose Title IX, but rather the claims, tactics and objectives of its most dogmatic defenders. In my mind, these activists have badly damaged the embrace of women’s sports as much as any rank misogynist.

The Title IX blog struck back with “mythbusters”:

Myth: Title IX’s proportionality requirement causes schools to cut men’s sports.

Fact: Title IX gives schools three ways to demonstrate requirement with the law’s requirement for equity in the distribution of athletic opportunities, one of which is proportionality. Basically, the three prongs work to protect women’s sports from being cut when women are the underrepresented sex. Under Title IX, it’s not necessarily unlawful for one sex (almost always men) to have more opportunities than another sex. All Title IX says with regard to cutting opportunities is that schools can’t cut from the sex that had fewer opportunities to begin with. If there was a proportional distribution of opportunities, then Title IX would have no effect on a school’s decision on which teams to cut. It could cut women’s swimming and spare men’s wrestling. What puts schools in the position of only being able to cut men’s teams is the act of favored men with athletic opportunities all along.

Helen of the womenshoopsblog also disagreed with Parker, as did Q McCall of swishappeal.

I agree with Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, who says it’s the same conversation 38 years later:

Yet, despite the many doors that this remarkable law has opened, we are still having many of the same conversations that we did almost 40 years ago, especially in the realm of athletics.

Anyone who has tried to teach physical education in schools or coach athletics knows that the boys still rule. There’s no way in hell we’re ready to get rid of Title IX – we may never be able to do that. “Glory Road” was based on an extremely racist situation in 1966, and racism still exists today. The same is true of sexism.

Wendy Parker makes some great points in her piece. There will always be people who try to manipulate circumstances to their benefit. But Title IX is still very necessary.

Happy anniversary.