How Title IX Can Hurt Small Roster Women’s Sports

From the outside looking in, news that a high school in South Dakota was eliminating their girls gymnastics team in order to add competitive cheer wouldn’t seem like a significant story. But then, when you look a little closer, you can see how the tyranny of strict proportionality can wind up hurting a small roster sport:

Adding competitive cheer and dance would also help keep MHS in compliance with Title IX, the federal law on sports equity for boys and girls. Mitchell is in full compliance with Title IX requirements; however, keeping boy and girl participation levels equal can be tough because of the large number of participants in football.

By eliminating one girls’ sport and adding two others, MHS would be closer to equity. The average number of athletes on the 13 Class AA competitive cheer rosters in the state is around 20 and the number on competitive dance is around 16. There are an average 15 gymnasts on the 15 “AA” rosters in South Dakota.

That’s right: competitive cheer and dance get to proliferate because they help schools maintain gender balance (much like women’s crew at the collegiate level) because the relatively large squad. Meanwhile, a sport that is one of the centerpieces of the Summer Olympics gets thrown under the bus because it isn’t convenient anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no problems with competitive cheer and think high schools and colleges ought to have the option of adding those sports of there is any interest from the student body. But what we are seeing now are whole categories of sports that are being driven to extinction because they don’t help schools maintain gender balance.

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