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San Francisco
Title IX: You've Come A Long Way, Baby
by Sally C. Pipes 8/8/07

New actions against the University of California, Davis confirm that Title IX has come a long way from a program intended to provide equality of opportunity in college sports. It now does practically the opposite.

On the UC Davis campus women constitute 56 or 57 percent of the student population, according to the firm from – where else? – San Francisco, that is filing the lawsuit. Women may form a clear majority but, say the lawyers, they only have 50 percent of the athletic opportunities. Surely this represents the nadir of injustice, but there is more.

Sally C. Pipes
[Courtesy of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

Campus officials note that UC Davis offers no fewer than 14 varsity sports for women, far beyond the national average of 8.4 sports. But that's not enough for activist lawyers of a feminist bent. They charge that the overall playing field remains uneven, that the school neglects field hockey, and that UC Davis booted some athletes off the wrestling team solely because they were women.

A second action against UC Davis comes on behalf of four other wrestlers, three eliminated from the team in 2001 and another who showed up at Davis expecting to be on the team but who apparently failed to gain a spot. That happens to quite a few athletes, male and female, who get cut from teams all the time. Even highly touted athletes on scholarship sometimes fail to make the grade, while obscure "walk-ons" sometimes become big stars. Unfortunately, performance and choice play little role in the Title IX mindset.

As the UC Davis case shows, Title IX is now being used as a pretext for lawsuits when female athletes fail to earn a spot on a team or get cut from a team. Contrast the treatment dished out to men under a regime that forces schools to prove their innocence through "compliance."

The easiest way for schools to comply is through proportionality, the notion that men and women are undifferentiated and should be equally represented, in all endeavors, especially sports. Proportionality amounts to a quota system and the easiest way to achieve it is to cut men's sports, and college administrators, generally a spineless bunch, have taken the easy road. Since 2000 they have eliminated hundreds of men's college teams, in sports from wrestling to swimming. Even programs that produced Olympians were not spared the axe.

Clearly, these cuts discriminate against male athletes, all of whom, like the aggrieved wrestling lassie at UC Davis, were expecting to play. She at least had a team to try out for, while many men do not. College bosses apparently expect them to be happy, keep quiet about things, and perhaps play checkers. Notice that feminist lawyers ignore the clear injustices against men in favor of vague charges by female athletes, whose teams not only remain but are being expanded.

Title IX has become a way to pick winners and losers rather than the path to a level playing field for all. It has hardened into a blatant quota system that punishes men and turns female athletes, as Jessica Gavora put it, into the welfare queens of sports. This cries out for reform but Congress has failed to act on that front. Worse, California has extended Title IX to local playgrounds.

The courts may offer hope. Some clear-thinking and fair-minded lawyers need to make Title IX work for the men whose college teams were eliminated entirely. They are the true victims in what has become a zero-sum game. CRO


copyright 2007 Pacific Research Institute




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