How Title IX is Strangling Men’s College Soccer

Over at Ocala.com, Dwight Collins is concerned that the U.S. Men’s National Team may never win the World Cup, and he’s listing what he believes are the reasons why. And I couldn’t miss #1 on the list:

* Title IX. The gender equity legislation that has done so many wonderful things for women’s sports at the collegiate level has basically killed men’s soccer at most NCAA football-playing universities. With so few opportunities to earn major college soccer scholarships, our best prospects gravitate toward other sports that can afford them those chances.

Over at the Title IX Blog, Kristine Newhall is blasting Collins for daring to suggest that Title IX is responsible for promoting anything other than sunshine and rainbows, but the truth is another matter entirely. A quick look at the numbers shows that he’s onto something huge.

For the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at the data for 2006-07 academic year, the year we used when the CSC published itsgroundbreaking study into gender symmetric sports. As we mentioned then, all of the numbers we reference here (PDF) are from publicly available sources. Our college and university participation numbers came from the NCAA (click here and here). The high school data came from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

According to those sources, there were 377,999 boys playing high school Soccer in the U.S. in the 2006-07 academic year, while girls high school programs boasted 337,632 participants. Yet, when it came to college Soccer on the Division I level, women’s programs outnumbered men’s programs, 300-195.

That’s right, on the national level, even though girls and boys participate in Soccer in roughly the same numbers in high school, women have more opportunities to compete in college by a factor of 3-2. That’s set up a number of crazy situations:

  • BYU’s men’s team needs to play in semi-professional league in order to compete so the school won’t run afoul of Title IX enforcement;
  • Massive athletic conferences like the SEC offering Soccer for women but not for men;
  • Tens of thousands of boys play high school Soccer in Texas, yet the state only boasts a single Division I program at SMU.

So, thanks to Mr. Collins for being brave enough to simply tell the truth. There’s not enough of that around these days.

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