By Ken Reed
I’m an old guy. I remember when Title IX became law in 1972, opening the door — even if it was just cracked a little at the time — to more sports opportunities for girls and women.
Valerie Bonnette, a Title IX consultant, once pointed out, “Women aren’t born less interested in sports. Society conditions them.” And for decades, American society conditioned girls and women to believe that sports were a special domain for males only.
It’s been 51 years since Title IX became law and the pursuit of equal play continues. Yes, great progress has been made, but there have been setbacks in some areas, and more progress is still needed in others.
For example, according to a USA Today study, for every dollar colleges and universities spent on travel, equipment and recruiting for men’s teams in recent years, they spent just 71 cents on women’s teams. Over a two-year period, colleges and universities spent nearly $125 million more for men than women in these budget areas for the sports of basketball, baseball/softball, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis. And that analysis doesn’t even include football.
That said, things have never been better for female sports than they are today.
As Santul Nerkar wrote in the New York Times:
“At a moment when the dominant issue in college sports is conference realignment in football, Nebraska’s Volleyball Day served as an example of a growing realization among universities that investing in women’s sports can be great for business. More and more athletic programs are seeing gains from women’s sports that challenge the outdated notion that there isn’t enough demand to make women’s programs financially sustainable.”
I’ve coached girls sports for more than 15 years and as a result have met a lot of women’s sports enthusiasts and advocates. And those I’ve talked to during the last couple weeks have all mentioned the University of Nebraska’s volleyball team breaking the record for the most-attended women’s sporting event — by drawing 92,003 fans to a game held in Nebraska’s football stadium — as a landmark event.
Nebraska volleyball is a great female sports success story. The team has led the sport in average attendance — more than 8,000 per match — for a decade. Passionate fans, including Nebraska governor Jim Pillen, worked for several years on a plan to break the attendance record. On August 30th, it all came to fruition.
On a national scale, boosters and corporations are making bigger investments in women’s sports today. According to Patrick Rishe, the director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, name, image and likeness (NIL) rules, along with shifting societal views on gender equity, are factors in the greater investment in women’s sports.
League of Fans applauds this shift in societal views on gender equity and hopes it continues at an even faster pace so great stories like Nebraska volleyball become more commonplace.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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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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