Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Major news from Title IX Land

So Joe Biden got up in front of some Girl Scouts and US Women's National Hockey team members yesterday--in addition to the usual crowd of reporters and assorted others--and announced that the Obama administration would be rescinding the 2005 "clarification" of prong three compliance. The clarification which came from George W. Bush's administration, stated that schools could exhibit compliance with prong three of the three-prong test that ensures the provision of equitable opportunities for athletic participation, by sending out email surveys to gauge female students' interest in sports not currently offered at the institution. Non responses would be interpreted as lack of interest. The clarification came to be known as the Title IX loophole because administering a survey over email to undergraduates--come on. Not to mention that it is unlikely that a student who was truly interested in playing a sport would attend a school where said sport did not exist. (There were other issues as well.)
So to clarify, the Bush era clarification is no more.
And this has made some news. Seriously. NPR and the NYT (and others) were reporting on the announcement before Biden even made it yesterday. Good, I guess. I mean sure I wish when the "clarification" was actually out into effect in 2005 that there had been more mainstream press about it rather than the "the feminists are pissed" kind of rhetoric I saw. But hey, we take what we can get.
And of course yesterday's announcement drew heartfelt blog posts about how great Title IX is. It's a pretty good piece of legislation--don't get me wrong. But it would be nice for some ongoing advocacy and not just fair weather reflection (I am not talking about posts from advocacy groups). I am not holding it against people, of course. Praise away.
But in reading one such praise be to Title IX post, I was disturbed not by the post, but by the first comment on it. It wasn't an outright, straight from the College Sports Council, anti-IX post. Which made it all the more disturbing.
It was from a former Senior Women's Administrator (the highest-ranking female administrator in an athletic department) who recognizes that Title IX has indeed afforded women opportunities. But she doesn't like schools who cite budgetary reasons when they cut men's sports. She is "resentful that so many schools drop men's sports as a solution to Title IX. Title IX has killed Football (sic)."
Crap! I missed the funeral. Though I seem to always be at Title IX's trial. This charge of murder is new one (regarding football anyway). Football is not dead. It is very much alive and well all over the country. Just because Hofstra and Northeastern dropped their programs this year does not mean the sport is dying. Look around. This is the United States. This is college football. There is no way American culture will let intercollegiate football die.
Look a little closer and you will see that the money allegedly needed to keep football alive and well is the culprit behind a lot of these budgetary issues athletic departments face.
Schools drop sports for economic reasons. When making decisions about which sports to cut they must consider gender equity. It's really not a lot to ask of federally-funded institutions. If they had the money they would add women's sports or roster spots to achieve Title IX compliance. But they don't for so many reasons I won't go into here.

I agree with the argument of many women's sports advocates that more women should be in athletic administration. But as this woman proves so well, the add (any) woman and stir method is not likely to engender great changes in the somewhat stifling environment of many athletic departments. I think we need a lot more clarification.

No comments: