Title IX was a controversial amendment passed in 1972 that provided women with equal opportunities in the education system.
It reads, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.” The actual wording of the amendment does not specifically mention college athletics but its “intent” has been applied to sports by ensuring equal participation including equal number of sports and scholarships for men and women.
The effects of the amendment have been debated over and over again even though it was implemented 40 years ago.
There are some telling statistics behind the debate.
In 1972 approximately 294,000 girls participated in high school sports and 31,853 in college-level sports. Today, more than 2.7 million participate in high school athletics and just under 100,000 play in college.
Without Title IX, we probably wouldn’t have watched the Texas volleyball team’s consistent runs in the NCAA Championships, the No. 4 softball team’s 40-8 season or the women’s rowing team’s fourth-consecutive Big 12 title last weekend. At the national level, the United States women’s soccer team attributes their success both on the field and off the field to Title IX.
College athletics could be just the tail of the impact of the amendment. Without the potential of getting a scholarship to a college or making a team, young girls might not be nearly as committed to athletics at a young age. This desire to be involved in sports promotes a healthy lifestyle.
But is there a cost to Title IX?
Some believe that the increase in athletic opportunity for girls in high school has come at the expense of boys’ athletics. For example, the College Sports Council has stated that nationwide there are currently 1.3 million more boys participating in high school sports than girls. Using a gender quota to enforce Title IX in high school sports puts those young athletes at risk of losing their opportunity to play.
An obvious manifestation of this is the lack of a men’s Division I soccer program at UT. Texas is one of the premier athletic programs in the country, yet the school does not have a men’s team participating in the world’s most beloved sport.
But the telling fact is that according to UT’s Office of Information Management and Analysis, 50.4 percent of students were female in the fall of 2011. Logic dictates that the number of female athletes on campus should be proportional to this number. On a larger scale, as the number of women enrolled in college continues to grow, so should the number of female student athletes.
Ultimately, the main purpose of a college is to provide an education. Many students rely on athletic scholarships in order to fund their education. It is fair that women and men should have the same opportunity to go to college with athletic scholarships being a means to their education. Men and women deserve an equal chance.
And yes, Title IX has provided us the pleasure of watching great female athletes since its inception 40 years ago. Athletes like Blaire Luna, Rachael Adams, Ashleigh Fontenette and women all around the country deserve the opportunity to play.
Title IX provides them with that chance.
Printed on Thursday, May 3, 2012 as: After 40 years, Title IX's impact felt