By Ken Reed
Title IX, the landmark civil rights legislation that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance, recently celebrated its 40th birthday. A celebration was indeed in order given that millions more girls and women have been given the opportunity to participate in athletics than was the case before the law’s enactment.
Even if you don’t like sports there are reasons to be a Title IX advocate. Non sports-lover Bryce Covert pointed out in a recent article in The Nation that research by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that “the post-Title IX generation of women enjoyed more education, employment and higher wages than their pre-Title IX forebears.
Arthur Bryant, executive director of the public interest law firm Public Justice, laid out the positives of athletics participation for females beautifully in an op-ed column for the Christian Science Monitor.
“Research shows that girls who play high school sports are 20 percent more likely to graduate and 20 percent more likely to attend college,” writes Bryant.
“Girls and women who participate in athletics have increased cardiovascular conditioning; are less likely to smoke; have a reduced risk of a wide variety of health problems, including estrogen-related cancers, obesity, dementia, depression, and suicide. On the flip side, they have increased emotional and psychological well-being, self-esteem, and self-reported quality of life,” he continued.
“When they gain that, the boys and men in their lives – and all of us – benefit, too.”
However, we can’t fully celebrate until all high schools and colleges in the country fully comply with Title IX.
As Bryant points out, “Title IX does not require schools to sponsor any particular sport (or sports at all). It just requires that, if schools are going to offer sports, they have to do two things. First, they have to offer males and females equal opportunities to participate. Second, they have to provide equal treatment to the males and females who are participating, including financial aid (where offered), facilities, equipment, scheduling, travel, recruiting, coaching, tutors, medical and training services, housing, dining, support services, and publicity. The problem is that, even now, after 40 years, very few schools are doing this.”
At the college level, females make up 57% of the student body, yet only 43% of the college athletes. And it’s not due to lack of interest. If the last 40 years have proven anything, it’s that if given the opportunities, girls and women will flock to sports.
Some Title IX antagonists say that women deserve fewer college sports opportunities (and dollars) because football makes a ton of money and women’s sports don’t. There are two things to consider with this argument. First, most FBS (formerly Division IA) football programs lose money. Second, even if football programs were huge profit centers, the law doesn’t allow universities to discriminate against women for the purpose of making money.
What we need are more school administrators, government officials, parents and coaches that are committed to ending gender discrimination in sports. In a lot of cases, it takes courage to do the right thing. Working for Title IX compliance is one of those cases.
However, if more of us follow the courageous Title IX trailblazers, the 50th anniversary of Title IX will truly be an occasion to party.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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