Friday, April 04, 2008

Student Letter Defends Title IX

As Title IX fans, we admire people who challenge the ignorant and sexist rhetoric that is often used to demonize the law and women's equality in athletics. As professors, we love it even more when the people mounting that challenge are students. So we give a Title IX Blog tip o' the hat to Notre Dame sophomore John Witty (who, a google search reveals, hails from Iowa, one of our favorite states) for penning the following letter to his student paper.
When I started reading Greg Yatarola's column, "The tyranny of Title IX," it was April 2nd, 2008, but when I looked up from my paper it was 1950. The world had gone black and white, Notre Dame hadn't admitted women, and apparently, people cared about wrestling.

The fact that Yatarola feels that wrestling should be priority No. 1 for the University, which frankly has more important things to worry about, isn't the worst part. Even worse is the fact that he discounted every athlete, coach, staffer, or fan of women's athletics at Notre Dame and beyond. From his sweeping claims that men are physically superior, to his inappropriate and unnecessary drop-in comment about women athletes being "comfort women," Yatarola is the exact kind of person that Title IX responds to.

There are some who agree and some who disagree with Title IX, so let me try to put it into phrasing that Yatarola might understand - Title IX is a disgrace. It's an absolute injustice, for no other reason than it is a relatively small attempt to apologize and make up for the massively one-sided, unfair, and unequal past treatment of women in the collegiate atmosphere. Its embarrassing existence is a painful reminder that our society actually had to write into law something that should have been a given in the first place - women deserve equal and just treatment. Yes there are flaws present in the implementation of Title IX, but since then, our female athletes have been able to pursue professional careers in sports, Muffet McGraw and Randy Waldrum (among others) have built nationally-ranked and recognized programs, and women's athletics has grown exponentially, and this is just at Notre Dame.

It may be just my opinion, but if all we lost for this growth was a dead-weight wrestling program 16 years ago, I'd say we're doing just fine. And Greg, if you're hard up for some tough, hard-nosed, and "hopelessly working-class" competition, tune in Sunday to ESPN to see the coach with the most wins, male or female, in college basketball. Her name is Pat Summit and she's coaching the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. And to think, she wouldn't have 7 national championships and all those wins - if only Notre Dame kept a wrestling program.
While I wholeheartedly applaud Mr. Witty's takedown of the sexism imbued in the prior letter, I do want to make clear my belief that wrestling and Title IX are not and need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, Title IX supporters and wrestlers should be allies. We have a common enemy in the historic and continuing practice on the part of university athletic departments to grow and increase spending for certain, privileged men's sports at the expense of both women's sports and other men's sports.