Monday, January 28, 2008

Football Skews Numbers at Benicia High School

As OCR continues to investigate an anonymous complaint about gender inequities in the athletic offerings at Benicia Unified School District, the school has publically defended its high school athletic programs by relying on the old "football is special" argument. Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar, interviewed by the local paper, points out that that argument is as old as Title IX and has never been accepted as a justification for programmatic inequalities.

Benicia High School has three football teams providing a total of 150 participation opportunties for boys. This skews the overall athletic participation rate in boys' favor: 390* to girls' 238. Moreover, the girls' figure counts sideline cheerleaders, which are unlikely to satisfy OCR's strict criteria for qualification as a sport, especially because cheerleading is not recognized as a competitive sport by California's interscholastic athletic association.

*This is a correction posted at 6:18 pm. I originally said the ratio was 328 to 238, but those are 06-07 numbers before the addition of the freshman football team created 62 more opportunities for boys. Thanks to the reader who pointed this out.