Friday, November 11, 2011

Women's Sports Foundation Reports on Participation Trends in High School Athletics

The Women's Sports Foundation has published a new report called “Progress Without Equity: The Provision of High School Athletic Opportunity in the United States, by Gender 1993-94 through 2005-06.” Using data from the Civil Rights Data Collection and the National Center for Education Statistics, the report authors, Professor Don Sabo from D'Youville College and Phil Veliz from SUNY Buffalo, examine gender differences in athletic opportunity in a sample of 24,370 public high schools across three school years, 1993-94, 1999-2000, and 2005-06. The authors measured the number of athletic participation opportunities, the number of teams, and the number of sports in the sample school districts during these years, and then controlled for a variety of factors about those schools including geographic region, level of resources, and whether urban, suburban or rural. As described in the report's abstract, its key findings include:

  • While high schools gradually increased their allocations of athletic participation opportunities between 1993-94 and 2005-06, progress toward closing the gender gap slowed after 2000.
  • Boys received a larger proportion of athletic participation opportunities than girls did for each school year in all communities (i.e., urban, suburban, town, and rural). The lowest percentages of athletic participation opportunities occurred in urban schools, whereas the highest percentages were issued in rural schools.
  • Schools with greater economic resources provided more athletic participation opportunities for their students—both girls and boys—than their less fiscally sound counterparts.
  • Girls were provided proportionately fewer athletic participation opportunities than boys during each school year and in all geographic regions (i.e., Northeast, Midwest, South and West.
To me, this report provides an answer to those who would curtail Title IX's enforcement at the high school level. By proving that girls' opportunities are still lagging and progress towards equality waning, this report should encourage regulators and lawmakers to strengthen Title IX's application to high school athletics such as by taking seriously those seeking OCR enforcement against continued disparities, and by passing legislation that would standardize participation data and make it available and easier to find for those seeking to file a complaint or a lawsuit.