Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Reporter's Series Examines Title IX Compliance, Boosters

The Philadelphia Intelligencer's Ed Kracz has been running a series of articles about Title IX and its application to the school districts in his paper's readership area. One of his articles addressed Title IX's early history, including college football coach's efforts to repeal the law's application to athletics. But most of his articles have had a local bent, including this examination of disparities in opportunities and facilities in the paper's 12 school districts, andthis profile of a district superintendent's efforts to balance out the athletic opportunities in his district while addressing a proposal to add varsity football.

Yesterday's installment in this series examined fundraising by booster clubs. Kracz pointed out that misperception -- shared by school officials and boosters alike -- that booster-raised funds are private money, not subject to the law. Some school officials cited this belief as an explanation for why they had no idea how much their athletic team boosters were raising and spending. In fact, as Kracz reports, OCR considers a booster club's spending in support of athletic teams to be donation to the school district, which must factor in those funds when determining that girls' and boys' sports are equitably supported. Some school districts have booster clubs that raise money for the benefit of all sports, rather than a particular sport, a fundraising model that is less likely to result in gross inequities between boys and girls' sports. However, only one of the Intelligencer's 12 districts utilized this type of "all for one" booster club, which many schools resist for fear of losing parents' involvement.

I think that Kracz's article helps illustrate that schools and boosters need to work together to address fairness and equality in high school sports. Schools cannot ignore what its booster clubs are doing, just as parents cannot ignore the fact that individual-sport fundraising creates gender inequities in the aggregate.