“Women aren’t born less interested in sports. Society conditions them.”
— Valerie Bonnette, Title IX consultant
By Ken Reed
Despite the tremendous gains brought about by Title IX, we unfortunately still live in a country in which female athletes continue to be treated unfairly and unjustly in the sports arena. In fact, the gap in opportunities and funding between males and females is widening today, not closing.
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 the aforementioned budget areas for the sports of basketball, baseball/softball, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis.
The USA Today analysis used revenue and expense reports from schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) — the highest level in Division I — submitted to the NCAA for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years. It’s important to note that because the study only looked at sports with comparable men’s and women’s teams, the figures above don’t include football. The gap in spending in college athletics between men’s and women’s athletic programs is even greater when football is considered.
Regarding football, as the Women’s Sports Foundation says:
“Affording special consideration to football would permit an economic justification for discrimination. This would allow an institution to say, ‘We’re sorry we can’t afford to give your daughter the same opportunity to play sports as your son because football needs more money.”
A key point to consider is that decisions to drop certain sports (male or female) reflect institutional priorities, not a Title IX mandate. The responsibility of the federal government, through Title IX, is to ensure equal opportunity, not to ensure that particular sports teams are added, dropped, or maintained. It’s university athletic directors — and their presidents — that decide to drop $450,000-a-year sports like wrestling or gymnastics in order to add an artificial turf practice field for the football team. It’s these same administrators who give 85 scholarships to college football programs when NFL teams can get by with 53 players.
As former University of Arizona President Peter Likins said:
“We have, as a national society, decided that we prefer to allocate the fair distribution of opportunities for male athletes in a peculiar way, assigning very large numbers of these opportunities to one sport (football) and correspondingly contracting the number of men’s sports we can sponsor …”
If football wants/needs special treatment, then perhaps it’s time football is separated from both the university’s non-profit umbrella and the school’s athletic department and restructured as a for-profit subsidiary of the school, like cafeterias and several other aspects of the typical university are.
“The saddest part of all of this is that Title IX has been the law for 50 years, and while enormous progress has been made, the vast majority of schools in this country – colleges and universities in this country – are violating Title IX by treating their male athletes, as a whole, way better than their female athletes, as a whole,” said Arthur Bryant, an attorney who has been litigating Title IX cases for decades. “That’s a straight-out violation of Title IX, and it needs to stop.”
Bryant is right. Gender discrimination in sports at the middle school, high school and college levels must stop.
It’s past time for the country to rededicate itself to equal opportunity for both genders in sports.
— 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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