Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Default was not "consequence" of Title IX

There were a lot of issues/controversies raised by last week's story about a male high school wrestler who defaulted his match rather than wrestle a girl. Religion, violence, gender roles. Title IX was not one of them. Why? Because of the contact sport exception.
So I was surprised to read a blog post on the Chicago Tribune website Chicago Now entitled "The Unforeseen Consequences of Title IX" by Kirk Mango. Note that the title is pretty ubiquitous. Opponents of Title IX use it all the time to talk about a myriad of issues. But the post colon blog title "Top Iowa High School Wrestler Defaults, Won't Face Girl" was a little surprising. Because, again, Title IX does not require integration of teams when the sport is a contact sport. And as Joel Northrup pointed out when he issued a statement about his default to Cassy Hekelman, wrestling is a contact sport.
Girls have gained access to wrestling either because they have just been allowed to participate or because they have sought legal remediation under either an individual state's equal rights amendment or the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
But no one seems to be writing pieces titled The Unforeseen Consequences of Equal Protection.
For more on this I highly recommend Dr. Sarah Fields's book Female Gladiators: Gender, Law, and Contact Sport in America. She specifically addresses the legal and cultural controversies girls' wrestling has engendered.
So I hope Mr. Mango picks up Fields's book. As someone who in involved in promotion of youth sports (he has a website called Becoming a True Champion about empowering individual athletes) he--and all who work in youth through intercollegiate sports--should know what Title IX does and does not do.

2/24 UPDATE: Mr. Mango has changed his post to reflect the fact that Title IX was not a factor in the integration of wrestling. This is the new post.