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
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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