Sunday, May 03, 2009

Adding lacrosse because they can?

Pleased as we are to see schools that have the ability to add sports at this particular moment in our economic climate, the addition of men's lacrosse at Aurora University in Illinois is a little curious. Seems that they have an underused and quite expensive turf field and they need a team to run all over it. At least facilities won't be an issue.

But it seems that everything else will. For example there are not a whole lot of schools in the area playing lacrosse. Travel is not cheap these days. But the athletic director, who undertook a study of feasible additions, said lacrosse is a growing sport in the midwest and that by 2011, when the program is slated to start, there will likely be more schools fielding men's lacrosse.

Also, of course, at issue is gender equity. The writer of the above linked article does a very poor job explaining gender equity. His math isn't so hot either. He reports that there are 18 total teams, 8 for men and 8 for women and that adding men's lacrosse will, of course, throw off the balance. Once again I issue the reminder that number of teams does not equal equity. It's number of opportunities that are counted or whether the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex are being met or if the school has shown a history of expanding its women's program.

So adding men's lacrosse would not necessarily hurt Aurora University. But they're definitely going to have some explaining to do! Women comprise 67 percent of the undergraduate populating and currently receive 41 percent of the athletic opportunities. Adding men's lacrosse will skew these figures even more. There are plans to add women's lacrosse after the men's team is established. But this will not likely--unless they make the women's team really, really big--bring them closer to equity. It is possible, however, that upon adding women's lacrosse, Aurora will be able to claim compliance with prong 2: history of expansion. Still such a disparity should be raising a red flag somewhere.

If I were them, I would reconsider which program to implement first!