Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Why can't we just stop counting football?

Because I said so.
I know that is the mom response. But it is actually true.

Last week's NYT piece about the ways in which schools not-so-subtly manipulate their roster numbers to make it appear that they are closer to providing equitable opportunities than they really are has generated a lot of response. One such response is the suggestion that we not count football in order to make things more equal. This is not in any way a novel "solution." It was proposed when Title IX was passed and football supporters feared for their sport when they realized supporters of women's athletics were going to use the new gender equity law to claim their fair share. Title IX will be the death of football, people claimed.
But the fear was never realized. Football, however, has been the death of other sports and silently hides (a shocking ability given its massiveness: stadia, rosters, coaching staffs, etc.) while other male student-athletes lose their opportunities and everyone turns a glaring eye to Title IX.
I have never understood the logic of not counting football just because it is big. Crew teams are big. We count them. Or the rationale that it has no female equivalent. Field hockey--in this country--has no male equivalent. We still count it.

I am, thankfully, not the only mom voice in the debate. George Vecsey of the NYT wrote a very good column about the corruption within intercollegiate football and, among other things, how it causes schools to play with the numbers while keeping intact all of football's privilege.
I can't imagine that the shenanigans that go on within football teams and athletic departments are going to improve if football becomes even less accountable.

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