Dear Next President,
You probably know what Title IX is already, but just in case you don't, here it is. Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 that basically states that men and women must get equal opportunities in public schools. To quote it, it says:
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.
Now, this is great. It is supposed to protect women from discrimination in college sports, and it does. There is no doubt that women should receive equal opportunities, and now, due to Title IX, they do.
But there have been some less fortunate effects of Title IX as well. We already know that Title IX has positively affected female student-athletes, but how has it affected male student-athletes? According to Donald E. Shelton, and associate professor and director of the law reform program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, states that, today, Title IX actually "permits the elimination of male athletic opportunities," which "undermines the purpose of Title IX" by not actually created equality.
I am a male gymnast, and partly due to Title IX, there are only twenty-one NCAA men's gymnastics programs in the United States that I have the opportunity to join. And five of them are club teams, meaning that I cannot be a student-athlete at those universities and that they are not publicly funded. Therefore, there are actually only sixteen (16) colleges that give me the opportunity to do gymnastics in college. Furthermore, the number of wrestling teams has drastically decreased due to Title IX. The USA Wrestling program stated that in 1982 there were 363 NCAA wrestling teams, and in 2001 there were only 229 NCAA teams. Similarly, Alison Williams, from the University of Denver, indicated that, in addition to wrestling, the number of men's tennis, gymnastics, track, and swimming teams have substantially decreased. However, during that time, the total number of NCAA sports teams had risen by about 300. When the total number of programs rose, the number of men's programs dropped.
However, some Title IX advocates claim that less popular men's programs are being cut not because Title IX, but because expensive Division I men's football and basketball teams take all of the school's budget, so there is no money left to support the less popular programs. But this is just not true. Just one example is Marquette University. They had to drop a 100 percent funded men's wrestling program in order to meet Title IX's criteria, and they don't even have a football team. Additionally, those Division I football and basketball teams make enough money to even support the less popular programs, so they are obviously not what is forcing many less popular men's programs to be terminated.
So now that we have established that Title IX is what is negatively affecting men's programs, we can ask why. So then, why is Title IX causing a reduction of men's programs?
Shelton and John Irving--a writer for the New York Times, and a women's rights supporter--both say that this is happening because the Title IX that was enacted in 1972 is not the same one that is being enforced today. Today, there are three tests for public colleges to choose to pass: the number of male and female student-athletes must be proportional; colleges must continually add female sports or add support to under-supported female sports; or to prove that the female student-athletes who attend the school are satisfied with the athletics program. These tests were not originally part of the law, and were added by Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 1979, just 7 years after the law was initially passed. The unintended problem of Title IX is housed in the first test. The first rule essentially states that if 55 percent of a college is female, then 55 percent of the student-athletes must be female. This rule doesn't make any sense because, as perfectly described by Irving, "Can you imagine this rule being applied to all educational programs -- classes in science, engineering, accounting, medicine or law? What about dance, drama or music -- not to mention women's studies?"
Now, let's think about this proportionality rule in reality: The National Federation of High School Associations reported that there were about 4.5 million boys and about 3.2 million girls playing high school sports in the 2010 to 2011 school year. The Digest of Education Statistics, along with the US Census Bureau, reported that in 2010, colleges consisted, on average, of 56.4 percent females and 43.6 percent males. This means that the majority of student-athletes must be female, even though the majority of high school athletes are male. Therefore, because universities must accept more female student-athletes than male student-athletes and they must commit more resources to those female student-athletes in order to pass the Title IX tests, many male sports programs are being cut. Moreover, this leads to fewer opportunities for men who want to become student-athletes. This directly goes against the main goal of Title IX, which is to get rid of gender discrimination and create equal opportunities for both males and females in sports.
So how can we fix this problem with Title IX? The best way would be to keep Title IX, simply get rid of the first proportionality rule and create a new method to enforce the law. The new method should take into account the extra 1.3 million males who play high school sports, and that the average college has more females than males. Title IX needs to be revised so that it benefits women, does not hurt men, and promotes gender equality correctly.