Posted on August 11, 2013
Nine For ESPN
Questions about Title IX they won’t answer
ESPN spent last year celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX, mostly by using the term as if it were synonymous with women’s sports, in a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the issue. Now, the network is running a short film series called Nine for IX, which it says is inspired by the legislation, although the stories have really got nothing to do with it.
The real Title IX guarantees in part that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in … any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Who could have a problem with that?
The Education Department, that’s who. The enforcement mechanism it devised consists of three requirements, one of which must be met for a school to be deemed Title IX compliant: (1) providing “participation opportunities,” or athletic roster spots, in numbers proportional to enrollment rates; (2) demonstrating a continuous process of expanding opportunities for the underrepresented sex; or (3) fully accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
Option (3) is unquantifiable, and is therefore dependent on bureaucratic benevolence, which is not in ample supply. Most schools rely on Option (2), on the basis of having added at least one women’s team in the recent past. Once a school has had to make athletic budget cuts, however, it’s hard to make the case that opportunities for anyone are being expanded. In that event, the school must fall back on Option (1), also known as “the proportionality test,” which by design is extremely unreasonable, vindictive and loony.
This is the regulation that has forced the elimination of hundreds of men’s college sports teams nationwide, and prevented countless others from being created. It is this that ESPN and the rest of the sports media are celebrating. Is it any wonder they won’t stand up and say so?
Well, since they’re so knowledgeable on the subject, yet have not shared the truth about it with the rest of us, here are nine questions for ESPN about Title IX:
(I) The proportionality test undeniably excludes people from participation in college athletics on the basis of sex. If you don’t want to repeal the proportionality test, how can you claim to support Title IX?
(II) Why have those who call the elimination of men’s teams an “unintended consequence” of Title IX so strenuously resisted every effort to prevent that consequence from recurring?
(III) Title IX applies to all scholastic activities, but these enforcement regulations apply only to college athletics. Why should activities in which women are the overrepresented sex, such as the performing arts, not be subject to the exact same rules?
(IV) The Bush administration had produced an online survey to measure female students’ interest in sports, in order to establish a “presumption of compliance” with Option (3). “Title IX supporters” like yourselves persuaded President Obama to rescind this policy. Why shouldn’t a school be granted a presumption of compliance, i.e., innocence, in the absence of a known violation?
(V) When told that there’s far less interest in sports among women than men, “Title IX supporters” often respond that greater interest among women should be encouraged, and that participation in sports is beneficial to female students. That may very well be true, but what in the world has that got to do with enforcing an anti-discrimination law?
(VI) Two sports that are booming among high school boys, but being suffocated at the men’s collegiate level, are hockey and lacrosse. Title IX does not apply to private schools whose students don’t receive federal aid. As a result, six of the eight Ivy League schools participate in men’s hockey, and seven in men’s lacrosse. In what way have any women been adversely affected by this?
(VII) If a school is abiding by the proportionality test, and the percentage of men in its student body suddenly increases, that would make men the underrepresented sex in athletics. Would eliminating one of the women’s teams then be an anti-discriminatory thing to do?
(VIII) In 1988, Congress expanded the phrase “educational program or activity” in such a way that if any student at a university has received a federal grant or loan, that university's athletic programs are said to be the recipients of “federal financial assistance.” How can you defend such an egregious and absolute lie?
… and finally;
(IX) If one of your anchors blurted out the truth about Title IX on the air, how long would that person be given to clean out his or her desk?
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press