Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Three Minute Drill" Spotlights Title IX

Today's edition of the NCAA website's feature "Three Minute Drill" focuses on Title IX and the upcoming 35th anniversary of the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in all educational programs. The "Drill" features comments from Donna Lopiano of the Women's Sports Foundation, who praises Title IX for expanding opportunities for women, but notes that women still have fewer opportunities than men to compete in college athletics and that their programs still receive a mere fraction of the operating, recruiting, and scholarship funds. NCAA President Myles Brand then harshly criticizes schools who blame Title IX for program cuts that are, he said, motivated by internal priorities.

A former Stanford men's tennis coach, however, questioned Title IX's fairness in light of what he sees as a higher interest and participation among boys than girls in tennis. This argument seems to me to fall short on fact and law. The law does not require gender proportionality in tennis per se. If girls have higher rates of participation in college tennis than boys, this is likely because they have fewer (or zero) opportunities to play other sports, like football. Also, tennis is a sport that recruits heavily from overseas. So to the extent that the coach's comments invoke an image of American boys disappointed because can't play in college because of Title IX, this image is far from reality.

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