By Ken Reed

Title IX has been hugely beneficial for society, yet several myths remain prevalent.

Here’s an important fact: Since the law’s inception, both male and female participation in college sports has increased. And another one: In three major polls, about 80 percent of Americans surveyed say they want Title IX left alone or strengthened. So, in short, Title IX is working. It’s increased equal opportunity in education in general, and school sports in particular, for both genders (although a gender gap still exists in favor of males, and unfortunately that gap has increased the past decade) and the vast majority of Americans like the law.

Perhaps the biggest myth surrounding Title IX is that the law forces schools to cut men’s sports. That simply isn’t true. For example, according to 2011 NCAA data, the number of male student-athletes grew from 214,464 in 2002 to 252,946 in 2011. That’s an increase of 38,482. During the same timeframe, female student-athletes increased from 158,469 to 191,131, a jump of 32,662.

It’s true that non-revenue men’s sports such as wrestling, swimming and tennis have been cut since Title IX’s enactment but that’s due primarily to the over-emphasis on football and men’s basketball at NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. At these universities, football and basketball account for 78 percent of men’s sports budgets (contrast that to NCAA Division III where those two sports account for only 41 percent of men’s sports budgets). Despite all the rhetoric, it’s the desire to keep feeding the big-time sports pig (football and men’s basketball) that’s crowding out non-revenue men’s sports, not the need to fund women’s sports due to Title IX. The battle on big-time Division I college campuses isn’t between men’s and women’s sports. It’s between football and men’s basketball and all other sports — both men’s and women’s.

“In the past decade, Division I schools have cut 121 men’s non-revenue sports programs,” wrote Liz Clarke recently in a Washington Post piece.

“But in Divisions II and III, which don’t compete in big-time football, men’s non-revenue sports are thriving, with more than 400 teams added in the past decade. If wrestling vanishes, blame football, not Title IX.”

It’s important to remember that Title IX wasn’t designed to consider commercial interests or profit margins. It was designed to provide equal opportunity in the educational setting.

That’s the way it should be. And why Title IX is a good law.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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