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Guest Contributor
Xiaochin Yan

Xiaochin Claire Yan is a Policy Fellow in Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco.[Yan index]

The Whole Title IX Yards

Reform the remedy...

[Xiaochin Yan] 12/21/04

A new California law, AB 2404, has made the Golden State the first in the nation to expand federal Title IX requirements to include local parks and recreation districts. In theory, this law seeks to equal the playing field for boys and girls who play sports. In practice, however, it extends many of the harmful effects of the federal Title IX requirements to community sports programs, including those run by counties and cities.

Title IX was passed by the federal government to prevent gender discrimination at educations institutions, particularly college campuses. But its effect has been to spell the demise of many male sports teams and events. The effects of this new bill are similarly predictable.

Like Title IX, AB 2404 will require that the percentage of boys’ and girls’ programs be the same as that of boy and girl residents in the community. If one gender is underrepresented in youth sports, public agencies must resolve that gap in numbers or risk facing costly lawsuits. Counties and cities that do not have money or are unable to recruit more girls will have one way to achieve statistical equality: by cutting back on programs for boys.

If lawmakers take a closer look, they will see that rather than increasing women’s opportunities, men’s opportunities are cut to achieve a numerical quota. Since 2000, a total of 435 men’s teams across America’s college campuses have been eliminated — including 130 track and cross-country programs, 21 wrestling teams, and 23 swimming teams. In the last four years, the total number of men’s teams dropped amounts to five percent of the total number of men’s teams in the NCAA.

Under pressure from Title IX’s proportionality requirements, UCLA has closed its men’s swimming and diving program, which has produced 16 Olympians. According to a five-year study by the NCAA, for every woman added to college sports, 3.6 men were cut. Now that AB 2404 will be extending the same statistical equality requirements to our local communities, boys’ sports programs across California can expect the same cuts.

As for remedying the quality of equipment and field access for girls’ sports, plenty of communities already have systems in place to resolve such complaints. Extending Title IX requirements will simply be another government mandate regulating to death the very thing it is trying to protect.

The reality is that men and women are different and so are their levels of interest in sports. In community-sponsored programs, boys often gravitate towards team sports such as basketball, while many girls take a liking to dance and arts and crafts. No amount of heavy-handed tactics or quota regulation is likely to even out these preferences. It would be wrongheaded to expect that community sports programs receive the same proportion of participation from boys and girls. Achieving statistical equality is a hollow and deceptive victory that only serves to reduce sports for all kids.

That girls may choose not to participate at the same rate as boys is a reflection of different strengths, interests, pursuits, and talents between men and women. Title IX is in need of serious reform to remedy the negative effects it has caused. It is a shame the governor and the legislature did not firmly nix such a damaging idea from spreading to our communities. CRO




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