Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The US men will not win the World Cup...

...and it's all Title IX's fault. Well it is if you believe this guy who blames Title IX for the demise of men's soccer programs at the intercollegiate level thus depleting the pool of national team members.
He does cite other issues such as the lack of popularity in the United States where more than a handful of other sports have considerable national attention. And just because people--American people--get excited about soccer during the World Cup--does not mean we need to blame gender equity for the lack of attention in the intervening years. After all we get mildly excited about esoteric winter sports like luge and curling every four years, too.
And it should be noted that the lack of national popularity is part of the reason that colleges do, when they feel they must make cuts, scratch soccer from its list of men's varsity sports. Or it's the reason why it never exists in the first place. I do agree that the popularity of youth soccer would seem to suggest that it should be more prevalent in college. But again, if it's not there already and student-athletes are set on playing sports in college, they will switch sports or specialize in something other than soccer. I believe it's been said before here, but if football teams would just give up 20-25 roster spots (which would bring their roster down to just under 100 players), schools could field a men's soccer team.
The columnist argues that the women's national team "swaggers" into international events and frequently finds itself on the podium. But let's note that even though Title IX likely contributed to this success on the international stage, it is not as if the women's team has the national popularity of the men's game. Female soccer players struggle to make a living playing their sport after college. They can go overseas, but there are far more opportunities for men in Europe. In the US, one professional league, the WUSA, folded even though it was created on the heels of US World Cup excitement. And the current league, the WPL, is staying small and already has seen one team fold as it begins its second year.
So the US men may not perform as well internationally, but they still get more national attention and opportunities as professional players.
That's a gender equity issue that does not get discussed.