Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Badminton Proves Popular Addition in Deer Valley, Arizona

Girls' badminton, the newest sport offered by the Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, Arizona, easily filled up at the district's five high schools, providing new athletes with a sport and demonstrating once again the "if you build it, they will come" relationship between Title IX, opportunity, and interest.

Deer Valley added badminton this August in response to pressure generated by the Title IX complaint filed by the National Women's Law Center last year. The complaint submitted to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, challenged the relative lack of athletic opportunities for girls, citing an average of more than ten percentage points disparity between the percentage of female students at district high schools and the percentage of athletic opportunities available to them. It also noted the likelihood of "unmet interest" (as required for a school wishing instead to comply with prong three) due to the popularity of badminton in the region and its status as an Arizona Interscholastic Association championship sport.

With 20 girls coming out for badminton at four Deer Valley high schools (and 12 at the fifth) it is now evident that unmet interest existed. Hopefully Deer Valley and other districts will be on the lookout going forward to keep pace with girls' athletic interests rather than wait for a disparity in opportunity so egregious that it attracts a federal complaint. The fact that Arizona recently became the first state to sanction a high school championship in sand volleyball suggests another way to prove that opportunity begets interest.