Twice in the last few weeks I've heard women complaining about men's baseball getting cut from colleges--both times women (one, very old, the others, college aged) asked, "Why not cut girl's sports--why do they keep girl's volleyball but cut men's sports?" Then they scoffed dismissively: "It's because of that stupid law I bet."
Both times I spoke up--uninvited and with my hackles raised. I couldn't help it--I'm a feminist and I despise ignorance. Both times long silences followed my gentle but direct explanation of Title IX and what it does. Both times I watched these women gawp at what I thought were commonly known facts about equal rights--but the older woman was born well before these laws took effect and the younger women take these laws for granted because they've known no other way.
Disclaimer: these 2 colleges had their reasons, financial or otherwise, to cut men's baseball. Their decision to cut men's baseball instead of men's golf or women's soccer might have been based on travel expenses, attendance, participation or coaching. I don't know. What I do know is this:
Ladies, we owe a LOT to Title IX and a lot of women don't seem to understand what it is.
In 1972 Title IX was added to the Education Act. It bans any institution receiving federal money (public universities, public schools) from discriminating in any of its programs on the basis of sex. Title IX covers a lot more than sports. It lets girls participate in shop class and pre-med programs.
But the NCAA opposed Title IX in 1972 claiming it would doom college sports. Back in 1972 at University of Washington in Seattle men's sports received $2,582,000. Women's sports received $18,000. That's a typical example of what college athletic programs looked like before Title IX.
Once passed, universities spent more money on better equipment, facilities, uniforms, travel and scholarships for women's athletics. And yet in 1994, male head coaches for basketball teams earned an average $76,566 to female counterparts who earned $44,961. Progress, but not total equality yet.
Lawsuits took place and colleges started correcting the inequities. Sometimes the hallowed ground of men's college football came under fire, adding to Title IX's bad press. Yet the law states that spending on men's and women's athletics must be proportional to enrollment. And if a college opts to run a football program with fifty players, that might mean fewer men's sports overall and more women's sports overall since no women's sport offers as many positions as football does. But that's a college's choice to run an expensive football program. They have an obligation to run equitable women's programs if they're publicly funded.
Title IX is NOT repsonsible for "eliminating men's programs." It's responsible for leveling the playing field so women get to play. It's responsible for opening doors in higher education, science and technology. Title IX helps make sexual harassment illegal and scholarship money available. Title IX means girls can play softball instead of sitting on the sidelines cheering for the boys playing ball. Title IX is Feminism and Feminism means equal opportunity for EVERYONE regardless of gender.
To the women who feel Title IX is responsible for eliminating men's opportunities, I have to speak up. Their freedom to learn and play is partly because of Title IX and that's only fair.
Learn more about Title IX here. Tell your friends, teach this to your daughters. Don't take Title IX for granted! Leave your comment: what did Title IX let YOU do?