Some Things Nancy Hogshead-Makar Doesn’t Want You to Know About Title IX Enforcement

At the end of July, many proponents of reform of Title IX enforcement got an early Christmas present from ESPN.com when Gregg Easterbrook, better known as the author of the Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, penned an extensive take on why Title IX needed to be reformed.

For me, it felt like a landmark moment. For the most part, we don’t see many personalities in the mainstream media get up on a soapbox and point out the law’s unintended effects. As I’ve said before, Title IX isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and it was refreshing to read that somebody else agreed.
To ESPN.com‘s credit, they decided that the other side needed to get a word in, so earlier this week, the Web site published a rejoinder from Nancy Hogshead-Makar. You can pop over there right now and read it yourself. Unlike the folks at Title IX blog, we don’t hesitate to link to arguments that we disagree with (Reading that Erin Buzuvis didn’t like the way the Quinnipiac trial was covered made me chuckle. After all, I guess she’s just feeling the way the folks here at the College Sports Council feel about 99% of the time.)
Here are a few points I’d like to make in response to Hogshead-Makar:
  • Competitive cheer has counted as a sport under Title IX in Michigan high schools since 2001. It was then that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance allowing individual high schools to make that determination on their own. One year later, a Federal judge in Kalamazoo ordered that competitive cheer participants be counted under Title IX. If the arrangement works for Michigan high schools, it should work for a university in Connecticut.
  • For years, opponents of Title IX reform have claimed that the law does not require the use of quotas. In light of that history, it was almost comical to read Hogshead-Makar complain about Quinnipiac’s manipulation of its roster numbers. After all, if Title IX does not rely exclusively on quotas to prove compliance, then there should be no reason to misrepresent participation data.
  • Hogshead-Makar’s reference to equalizing competitive opportunities in high school was chilling. There are no scholarships in American high schools. Participation is based on interest alone. While boys participate in high school sports more often than their female counterparts, Hogshead-Makar omitted the fact that the only way to close that gap would be through a ruthless application of proportionality. Reaching a 50/50 ratio of boys to girls would require taking more than 1.37 million boys off the field. We’re already seeing that in action in Colorado, where the state high school athletic association is seeking to introduce roster caps on boys lacrosse because the sport isn’t proving to be as popular with girls. Meanwhile, legislation is moving through Congress that would give OCR the raw data it needs to replicate that action nationally. Activists have plans in the works for similar legislation in Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon.
More later.
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