I have mentioned previously that I go hot and cold on Frank Deford who provides a piece every Wednesday on NPR's Morning Edition. Yesterday's (and the written version which is at SI.com) is about Title IX. And I am now decidedly cold.
I am not going to go into all the problems with Deford's assessment of the situation, most egregiously his belief that Title IX requires proportionality. (Will sports writers ever learn what Title IX really is?) He does trot out again his potential solution that college sports be deemed entertainment--which would basically give athletic departments carte blanche.
What was really disturbing was the collection of comments from readers posted on a blog, sponsored by FanNation, linked from the SI.com site.
There were some smart comments from Title IX supporters that attempted to show how these cuts anti-IXers are bemoaning are really all about economics and institutional priorities: basketball and football. But people still cry out about how this "equality" (they often think equality and equity are the same thing) is anything but fair and that football should be exempt from Title IX because it's just different. That's it--different. Why is football different? Why isn't tennis "just different"? Oh, because football is better, that's what you really want to say without insulting say male lacrosse players or baseball players.
And of course there is the "but football generates revenue while other sports lose money" rationale. How people feel entitled to make claims without even looking at any evidence just baffles me. The majority of intercollegiate football programs in this country LOSE MONEY. It does not matter how much money they generate through ticket sales, apparel, concessions, etc.; their costs exceed their revenue. (I am bookmarking this post because I have a feeling I may have to say this again.)
Kurt Austin (the name given in his profile), a student at JMU (whose cutting of 10 sports Defrod cites), wrote a lengthy comment about the situation at his institution, which, although he himself is not an athlete has "many friends who are being effected(sic) by Title IX." Austin has some good points about the injustice of the nationally recognized "archery teams (mens [sic] and womens [sic])" being cut. I think it's tragic that a school would cut any teams let alone ones that have national reputations.
But Title IX is not the reason JMU cuts those two teams. They are spending their money on facilities and football. (These facts will come out if this Equity in Athletics--note the irony of an anti-Title IX group using the term equity--case gets anywhere.) They had priorities that apparently did not include fostering the skills of potential Olympic-caliber archers. And that is JMU's fault--not Title IX's or any of us wacky feminists who support it.
I haven't taken a poll but I don't think feminists are anti-archery. In fact, Geena Davis, who is a Title IX and women's sports advocate, is an archer. We are not anti-men's sports either. Our utopia does not include a world where only women play sports and men are cheerleaders who bake cream-filled cupcakes to sell at our games. Our utopia is a place where a male football player looks at the conditions under which a female field hockey player trains, competes, is recruited, and travels and says "I can--and will--work in these conditions too."