Male Discrimination?
January 25, 2002 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Male Discrimination? This issue has been building up for the last few years, ever since Title IX has been enforced in high schools and colleges. Now a coalition of male athletes, primarily wrestlers, has sued the Department of Education for depriving men the opportunity to participate in collegiate sports (due to the lack of funds). Here are two contrasting perspectives of the Title IX issue: The Myth of Title IX and Mythbusting.
posted by jacknose (31 comments total)
Title IX is the perfect example of a well-intentioned law that ends up benefitting few and harming many. The law requires that there be equivalent numbers of male and female athletes. Imagine a school with 10 male sports and 7 female sports. Rather than adding three female sports, the budget-strapped school eliminates 3 male sports. Now we have "equality," and conformance with Title IX, but does anybody really believe that there's been an improvement? (See "Law Hurts Men, Women").
posted by pardonyou? at 8:20 AM on January 25, 2002

How about this: Title IX states that women can try out for any sport. If the wresting teams and football teams of the universities actively recruited women, but failed to find any that were as qualified to play as the men on the teams, then they would not be engaging in gender discrimination, and would not be running afoul of Title IX.
posted by yesster at 8:25 AM on January 25, 2002

As a former college athlete, I wholeheartedly agree with yesster's argument. If women truly want equality give it to them. They are more than welcome to try out for the football team (or any other sport), and can become schiolarship players, but solely based on merit. If they are good enough let them play with the men, if not cut them like you would the men. That seems pretty much like the definition of equitable to me. Anything else smacks entirely too much of separate but equal, and we all know how well that worked. The idea of having separate leagues for men and women is such hypocrisy.
posted by d_brown3 at 8:36 AM on January 25, 2002

The issue is not about the law but the choices made by college administrators in budgeting. To blame a good law for the poor choices some colleges make is wrong. Why wasn't male football eliminated instead of wrestling would be a good example.
posted by nofundy at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2002

This is a case of good intention makes bad law- not for the proposed outcome (men and women have the same, equal opportunity to participate in school-sponsored programs) but the way it's been implemented. However, the fatal flaw in the wrestlers' argument is the assumption that they are entitled to play, that women's teams are eating money that is rightfully theirs, and that their right to play supercedes women's rights to play. Male and female students pay the exact same tuition and participation fees, they make up roughly half-and-half of the collegiate student body.

Rather than assigning funds for various teams on a sport-by-sport basis, colleges need to divide their funds into two equitable pools; one for men's sports, and one for women's. Whatever teams that pool can support are the teams they have. Then athletes can see where the money is actually going: I'd be willing to wager that the industry of college football is eating much more than its fair share of student generated fees, and the wrestlers could just as well blame the football program for their lack of wrestling, as they could the women's golf program.
posted by headspace at 8:52 AM on January 25, 2002

This is the same arguement that's been fought out so many times.

Things don't equal out immediately because you pass a law. Things are MUCH better for female atheletes since Title IX has been passed. The US Women's Soccer Team - one of the best women's teams in the world and the WNBA are two obvious examples of women's sports that have come of age since Title IX.

Now for the part you're probably not going to like. Men have been the recipients of privilege for, well, a really long time. Men have been getting far more than their fair share of money, facilities, etc in the sports arena (forgive the pun). Now with Title IX, there's more reasonable, equitable sharing. Are men getting less than before? Yes, because they were getting it all before. Does that "feel unfair"? I can see that it probably does. But it's not unfair, it's just equitable.

The number of young women interested in sports has been and continues to grow, particularly as opportunities and funding is made available to them for college scholarships, competitive teams and leagues, and a public interested in paying to watch. It won't happen overnight.
posted by Red58 at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2002

i like the 50/50 idea of headspace.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:15 AM on January 25, 2002

-begin troll-

Can I use Title IX to force my college to insert a uterus in my body? I want to have babies. I just don't think it's fair that, as a man, I can't.

-end troll-
posted by Ty Webb at 9:15 AM on January 25, 2002

Right on, Red. (Why, Ty?)
posted by sudama at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2002

College football at a lot of schools is the only sport that actually makes money.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:28 AM on January 25, 2002

The US Women's Soccer Team - one of the best women's teams in the world and the WNBA are two obvious examples of women's sports that have come of age since Title IX

A one time event and an anemic sports league don't exactly light the cause of women's sports afire...
posted by owillis at 9:34 AM on January 25, 2002

So what, jbelshaw? I thought the point to going to college was to learn. Sports are extracurricular activities- you can go to college -and- play sports, you can even go to college -because- you played sports, but you can't sign up to be Notre Dame's running back without ever attending the school. If men's football makes money, great. If women's golf doesn't, great! These athletes not pros, they shouldn't be expected to generate income. The focus should be on their education, and if playing sports enhances their education, then so be it. Universities existed, and taught, and survived long before the Big Ten headed off for their first bowl games.
posted by headspace at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2002

A one time event and an anemic sports league don't exactly light the cause of women's sports afire...

There is the big Catch-22 behind anti-title IX arguments. Investment in women's sports is not justified because women don't play sports but women don't play sports because there's not millions of dollars invested in women's sports programs.

I suspect that it is only a matter of time before the pros and the colleges catch up to the trends in youth sports. Pretty soon the argument that there is simply not as many women wanting to play will be invalid.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:49 AM on January 25, 2002

headspace, my point is that collegiate athletics don't have to be self sufficient, but some of them are, and college football gets ragged on the most, but its the one that offsets its own costs the most. I don't believe in a system of equality that says because one group has and another has not, we take from the one that has so they will be equal. I was a witness to this when I was in college, and it doesn't really help anyone. I'm all for womens sports, as a matter of fact my sister was a womens volleyball scholarship athlete in college.
posted by jbelshaw at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2002

When women's sports are visible, they're really pretty popular. Two good examples in the US are ladies' figure skating and gymnastics. Do we have men's teams in both of those sports? We certainly do, but it tends to be the women's portion getting the attention. Michelle Kwan can sell Chapstick, Tara Lipinski can sell IRAs- who'd recognize Todd Eldredge if they walked past him on the street? The same for gymnastics- everybody and God knows who Mary Lou Retton is; anybody know off the top of their heads who won gold in the men's gymnastic competition in '84?

Conversely, most everybody knows who Michael Jordan is, but probably couldn't name any of the athletes from the WNBA. And right there in the middle of all of it is the lovely gender-neutral sport of track and field where you have superstars of both genders, from Carl Lewis to Flo Jo. Get over the idea that sports have any gender at all, and allow everyone the opportunity to play, and you'll get athletes of both sexes who excel.
posted by headspace at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2002

From the Mythbusting article, it seems that Football, while being counted as a male sport in terms of funding and scholarships, could be open to female players if they were able to make the team. That seems a bit unfair for male atheletes in terms of funding.
posted by gyc at 10:36 AM on January 25, 2002

--"Get over the idea that sports have any gender at all"

This seems like wishful thinking. Do you recognize that men and women might be inclined toward different sports? This is apart from the Title IX discussion, which I think is a commendable idea with questionable effects. I'm glad young female basketballers have female heroes to look up to, but this doesn't change the fact that women's basketball looks like it's being played under water. I'm sure there are sports in which women excel over men, I just can't think of any right now.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:49 AM on January 25, 2002

I'm with headspace, I think the issue here should be how much money is provided to male/female sports, not how many participants there are. That way each gender as a whole gets the same amount of resources, regardless of interest.
posted by rorycberger at 11:06 AM on January 25, 2002

The real problem as far as Title IX is that football requires a very large roster of players and a good sized amount of money as a program. As noted above, football is one of only two sports that actually brings money into schools (be they college or high school). The other of course is basketball, men's not women's(not that there's anything wrong with women's hoops just that it doesn't fill arenas). But basketball doesn't require a set of pads, cleats, and a helmet for each player. Until this is compensated for, there will always be stories about wrestling and other men's athletic programs being cut because of Title IX.

The lesson here is to teach your daughters to play golf, tennis, hell even fencing because, as long as thing remain the way they are, it is very easy for girls to get partial of even full athletic scholarships for these types of sports.

furthermore, I agree with George Carlin who said that real sports don't have judges.
posted by srw12 at 11:31 AM on January 25, 2002

Because womens' sports don't require large teams or expensive equipment???

The other of course is basketball, men's not women's(not that there's anything wrong with women's hoops just that it doesn't fill arenas)

You aren't from Connecticut or Tennessee, are you?
posted by perorate at 11:47 AM on January 25, 2002

Perhaps this is off topic, but I have a simple solution: kill funding for all intercollegiate athletics. Use the money instead to encourage intramural sports participation across the student body, for which there should be little problem in having roughly equal funding and participation across sexes. Education is not a spectator sport!
posted by mlinksva at 12:00 PM on January 25, 2002

Thank god I went to a nice, small, Div. III college that had no athletic scholarships and had a football team that really, really, sucked. Nobody would dare to try to say that the football team should get more, because there were probably just as many ticket buying fans in stands for our swim meets as there were at the football games (Football games were free for students). Sporting events were much more about going to go see your friends compete, rather than the whole money thing.

I decided to look at two colleges that I was familiar with, to try to get an idea of what was being offered these days. Looking at my collge, they currently have

Men: baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, football, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field.

Women: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball and track and field.

Meanwhile, at the local Univ., we have:

Men: Basketball, Baseball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, swimming, tennis, track and field.

Women: basketball, softball, cross country, golf, swimming, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

I was kind of supprised to see that there were so few sports for men to play at the Div. I university. Is this because there are so dang many people on a football team at large schools? I noticed that, in comparing the two schools again, there are more than twice as many people on the local Div I football team. Maybe the solution is to have the larger schools try to be more like the smaller schools and less like semi-professional teams. (oops, I see in preview that srw12 just talked about this)
posted by eckeric at 12:01 PM on January 25, 2002

division I football has a limit of 85 scholarship players. the highest limit for women's sports is 18, for track and field.

source. [pdf. chapter 15, charts near the bottom]
posted by lescour at 12:28 PM on January 25, 2002

Because womens' sports don't require large teams or expensive equipment???

no, because the total scholarship money used up by football players at a lot of colleges has to be evened out on the women's side under Title IX. So, because of the sheer number of scholarships given to male athletes for football alone coupled with the lack of a female equivilant in terms of number of people in one program, allows for more athletic scholarships available for women playing various other sports. BTW I didn't mean to imply that tennis, golf, and fencing were only for women (I enjoy the occasional round of golf and don't play tennis because I suck at it) just that girls are more likely to get scholarships for them.

You aren't from Connecticut or Tennessee, are you?

Nope, Cincinnati. However, I'm a Xavier University Alumnist and, even though our women's team went pretty far last year, they still don't draw the same croud the men do. furthermore, when was the last time a women's NCAA championship was played in a dome?
posted by srw12 at 12:31 PM on January 25, 2002

oops, this year the women's NCAA championship is in the AlamoDOME. I Knew I should have checked before saying that...oh well
posted by srw12 at 12:37 PM on January 25, 2002

Ty, I don't think it's wishful thinking. Sure, there are plenty of little girls- maybe even a majority, who don't want to play football. There are girls, however, who DO want to play football (and lots of girls who had to sue so they could do just that.) If more girls with the desire to try out for football knew they weren't already forbidden, more would make the attempt. I recognize that men and women are individuals, who are going to be drawn to any number of things and not necessarily in equitable numbers. Does that mean the minority shouldn't be allowed to at least try?
posted by headspace at 12:39 PM on January 25, 2002

You guys are full of crap saying that "let women play if they're good enough." Jesus, women aren't even allowed to be UMPIRES or REFEREES, and you guys would really be willing to let women play the holy grail of sports, football? Don't be ridiculous. The people who brought this lawsuit are just bitter that women are getting their fair share. Suck it up and deal.
posted by aacheson at 5:19 PM on January 25, 2002

I'm sure there are sports in which women excel over men

Shooting, dog sledding, equestrian events and drag racing have women ranking above men in the same events. Notable especially is distance swimming where women are consistently better than their male counterparts. Generally, physically, women are smaller than men, and have a higher body fat index which can make the average woman less competitive than the average man from a purely biological standpoint. They might try out for football, they would usually not make the team. There's an interesting book about this, reviewed in Salon in 2000, The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality

unless you count web surfing as a sport, that is.
posted by jessamyn at 5:35 PM on January 25, 2002

The correct gender distribution of any sport is 50/50.
The people who brought this lawsuit are just bitter that women are getting their fair share.
Damn straight. It's OK if we punch this white guy because overall black guys feel more pain.... real pain
posted by holloway at 5:45 PM on January 25, 2002

Jesus, women aren't even allowed to be UMPIRES or REFEREES...

Not quite:

Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer, 2 NBA referees
Sonia Denoncourt, FIFA referee (from 1997)
Ria Cortesio, currently a minor league baseball umpire.
posted by modofo at 6:35 PM on January 25, 2002

NFL Football? MAJOR league baseball? NCAA Basketball? No women officials there in those bastions of equality.
posted by aacheson at 8:25 PM on January 25, 2002

« Older Why Genetic Engineering Is So Dangerous   |   So When Can The Boy Start Drinking Then? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments