Monday, June 25, 2012

Paying tribute by releasing football?

Generally, the 40th anniversary coverage was laudatory. There were good pieces about the gaps that remain, the oversights that have been perpetuated. Generally the haters laid off or wrote pieces about how the Title IX was getting ready to invade academics by mandating quotas in STEM. (Of course Title IX only applies to educational institutions so it has kind of already "invaded" the academy.)
Unfortunately our local paper decided to find a female coach to talk about how difficult compliance is for schools in this era of big-business athletics and how certain adjustments would make things better for everyone.
The Hampshire Gazette ran this story on the anniversary about the tennis coach at University of Massachusetts, [who once played doubles with Billie Jean King (does this give her Title IX cred?)], and who thinks football should be left out of the Title IX equation--because it's just too hard to make it all work given all the men on the roster and all the money it takes to coach, recruit, and equip football teams these days. Judy Dixon has said she's tired of fighting football.
A lot of us are tired of fighting football or heck patriarchy in general--but it doesn't mean we just capitulate.
The money that gets put into football is a choice. The teams that schools choose to field is a choice. Yes, the NCAA has rules about scholarships per team; and yes, these rules need revisiting and revising. But no school is required to field a football team, fly football coaches all over the country to recruit players. (It costs a lot more per recruit to get a football player to a school than any other potential student-athlete.)
I still don't understand why people believe that football should get special treatment. The unique features of the sport already provide it certain allowances, like a large coaching staff and medical personnel who are always on site.
Taking football out of the equation gives it extra special status that is not in keeping with the mission of athletics in education. There is nothing fair about providing men 100 more athletic opportunities and oodles of money and then making every other team--men's and women's--split whatever meager piece of the pie that remains.
Interestingly, Dixon's school, UMass, is in the process of making the move from a DI-AA school to the the BCS. This will involve a multimillion dollar investment, including a new stadium. I can see why she might be frustrated even as she expresses allegiance to her institution and support of its e decision.
But if you want to take football out of the Title IX equation, you will need to take it out of the schools.